Dalliance Albums of 2008 – Sober, life is a prison…

  1. Distortion - The Magnetic Fields
    Fizzing out of early January the entirely strange fuzzed up sweetheart songs of Stephin Merrit's band's second of the triology of no synth albums comes drenched in the titular Jesus and Mary Chain guitar chewing up heartbreakers such as Drive On, Driver and I'll Dream Alone, leery antics like Too Drunk To Dream and curios like Zombie Boy which is very much about voodoo reanimated gay lovers. The Nun's Litany straddles the divide between the absurd and the angish that has marked out The Megnetic Fields career.
  2. El Rey - The Wedding Present
    The senior statesmen of this parish follow up 2005's superb Take Fountain with a more matured - if not more mature - affair. Steve Albini twiddles knobs for the first time since Cinerama's Torino and Gedge throws up some choice couplets straight from the embitter lover's lexicon - Touching, laughing, flirting, dreaming/but inside a voice is screaming No soup for you! - and goes so far as to give up vocal duties for Swingers where Terry Castro takes the microphone recalling the best of TWP and the best of Cinerama without reaching the heights of either.
  3. The Stand Ins - Okkervil River
    The Okkervil River album for Okkervil River fans where the band dig deep into themes explored before to bring out new depths. Lost Coastlines stands out on first listen but Starry Stairs chills the bones and Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979 is interesting introspection. Not an album to convert anyone to the cause but a reward for those who are loyal.
  4. Accelerate - R.E.M.
    Roars through like no R.E.M. album has done before but pauses for the intelligent climb of Until the Day Is Done and Mr. Richards adding texture to excitement.
  5. Do You Like Rock Music? - British Sea Power
    Arriving like a behemoth in January touting the tag of "the British Arcade Fire" British Sea Power's third album is more mature, more powerful, more interesting than the two impressive predecessors. It has flaws - some songs could do with losing guitar sections and its second half can never like up to the blistering begininng - but Lights Out For Darker Skies, No Lucifer and Waving Flags pile on the majesty of the most interesting guitar band in England.
  6. Consolers Of The Lonely - The Raconteurs
    Less pop faced than The Raconteurs debut album Broken Boy Soliders and more in love with a fusion of Gram Parsons and Neil Young but Old Enough and Hold Up show Brendan Benson's pop sensibilities fused through Jack White's guitar heroics and White's genius in its waywardness is penned in for the show stopping Carolina Drama. Benson promises a new album in 2009 two band outings after his last solo release.
  7. Hold On Now Youngster - Los Campesinos!
    Most of the songs were heard to death by the time they arrived on an album which was quickly followed by a second slab of vinyl in 2008 but You, Me, Dancing! can be heard a million times and never get tired and Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks echoes the breathless intensity of the Campesinos live shows.
  8. Couples - The Long Blondes
    More thoughtful and more developed than their debut release The Long Blondes could have done much in 2008 without illness. As it was they produced the sort of album that one feels Jarvis Cocker would have listened to on a dingy night in Sheffield years ago. Guilt and Erin O'Connor stand out.
  9. Shepherd's Bush Welcomes The Wedding Present - The Wedding Present
    The Wedding Present live is always worth a listen and while there is nothing new about the recorded tour to support Take Fountain the 2006 Gedge blasting though Brassneck then Kennedy is worth the admission alone.
  10. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
    Starts off so much better than it finishes and it is almost impossible to see where they go next but Mansard Roof and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa had enough listenability to run deep into the year.