Dalliance Albums of 2010 – Whos next, whos next? Always the one that you least expect.

  1. Love and Its Opposite - Tracey Thorn
    It is an age thing of course, I would have been baffled by this album fifteen, twenty years ago, but Tracey Thorn's contemplation of Love and Its Opposite is an album of fear. The fear of getting older, the fear of making choices, the fear of one's own reflection caught in the window of a passing car. In Late In The Afternoon she bares her soul "I'm not a mystery/You know every inch of me" as a person worried that they have explored too much, in the Jens Lekman featuring Why Does The Wind she offers painful frankness with "Don't look for reasons/Don't tear your heart out/Wondering why the light starts fading/When the day the is ending". It is music for people who have experience and unapologetically so.
  2. The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
    A concept album about escaping suburban life sounds tedious but the second layer in which the current official best band in the worldTM slide on top - a layer about recapture and a second suburbia enthrals. The album is encapsulated in last full track Sprawl II which struggles with the meaning of stardom "My life, it seems, has no purpose/but late at night feelings swim to the surface." intones RĂ©gine Chassagne capping a remarkable achievement.
  3. Write About Love - Belle & Sebastian
    Stuart Murdoch's continued commitment to all things twee in music shows no sign of abating and while Write About Love comes of as a continuation of his God Help The Girl project of 2008 the album has enough of the flourishes of lyricism which has been the band's trademark to inspire delight. Murdoch takes an overseeing role on the title track to Carey Mulligan's vocal cheekily insisting Write about Love/It can be in any form/Have it to me in the morning .
  4. Clinging To A Scheme - The Radio Dept.
    Moving away from the heritage of bands like Teenage Fan Club The Radio Dept.'s third album builds an at times menacing sound around the listener. The Video Dept. consumes whispering "I have kept your diary on tape/I have covered every angle of your face/From ear to ear and then you would smile/And disappear for a while".
  5. Contra - Vampire Weekend
    The worry for Vampire Weekend after their eponymous first album was where they would take their mix of African beats and smart lyrics and the evidence of Contra does nothing to answer that question except to say that they shall do the same, but better. Taxi Cab has Ezra Koenig recast from preppy achiever to the cusp of the bitter loser asking "I remember it well/And if I'd forgotten/Could you tell?" The question about the band's future remains, but the present is pretty enough.
  6. Margins - Paul Smith
    The Maximo Park front man put sin a good shift of quiet, lyrical songs about a life which is surely more mundane than he leads.
  7. Live in Leeds - The Wedding Present
    One should avoid including live albums as if they are anything other than a type of best of release but this (and Brakes' Rock Is Dodelijk) provided interesting fair. Live In Leeds captures The Wedding Present not long returned from their spell as as Cinerama in one of the most accomplished and spirited performances the veteran band have ever done. Was there then and all and since that day and before David Gedge et al have never sounded as good.
  8. Realism - The Magnetic Fields
    Not vintage Stephin Merritt and - to me - half of the album of 2008's Distortion but to others it is a return to 69 Love Songs form. Merritt achieves his aims with the album, and on it there are some fine tunes, but this reviewer missed the howling guitars.
  9. Loveless Unbeliever - The School
    Sweet edge girl group influenced pop from Cardiff which ticks the right boxes.
  10. Also mentioned...Flashbacks - The Lodger, Weathervanes - Freelance Whales, Territories - My First Tooth, Champ - Tokyo Police Club