Pop Playground
Top 50 Albums of 2007



albums we loved, 2007.






50. PJ Harvey - White Chalk
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

49. Paramore - Riot!
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

48. Monkey Swallows the Universe - The Casket Letters
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

47. 65daysofstatic - The Destruction of Small Ideas
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

46. The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

45. Strategy - Future Rock
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

44. Colleen - Les Ondes Silencieuses
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

43. Basteroid - Upset Ducks
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

42. Calle 13 - Residente O Visitante
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

41. Andy Palacio & The Garfuna Collective - Wátina
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


40. Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

39. UGK - Underground Kings
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

38. Tinariwen - Aman Iman: Water is Life
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

37. Devin The Dude - Waitin' to Inhale
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

36. Marnie Stern - In Advance Of The Broken Arm
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

35. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

34. Dungen - Tio Bitar
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

33. Stars Of The Lid - And The Refinement Of Their Decline
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

32. Low - Drums and Guns
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

31. Menomena - Friend and Foe
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


30. El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

29. Electrelane - No Shouts No Calls
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

28. A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Scribble Mural Comic Journal
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

27. Of Montreal - Oh Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

26. Kathy Diamond - Miss Diamond to You
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

25. Battles - Mirrored
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

24. Studio - West Coast
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

23. !!! - Myth Takes
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

22. Deepchord Presents Echospace - The Coldest Season
[Stylus Review]

21. Caribou - Andorra
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


20. Dalek - Abandoned Language
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

19. Liars - Liars
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

18. Justice - Cross
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

17. Grinderman - Grinderman
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

16. The Besnard Lakes - Are the Dark Horse
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

15. The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

14. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

13. Gui Boratto - Chromophobia
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

12. Phosphorescent - Pride
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]

11. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


10. Radiohead - In Rainbows


Radiohead's seventh album gestated longest and when it emerged it did so with accessibility top of the list of priorities, in two senses; you didn't need to leave the house to get it and you didn't need to recalibrate your brain to get it, even after the red herring beat that opens "15 Step". Of course Radiohead have already recalibrated brains so much that there was little left that they could do other than become a band again, playing music together. Some of it even rocked, although the overriding tone is definitely somber quietude. Not a phenomenon; just a good record.
[Nick Southall]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


09. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime


This is my favorite album of the year but I may not be qualified to describe it. Here's what I know. It is a minimal techno record from Sweden; Sweden is a country in Europe; when this record burbles at me through its Elysian haze I want to dance but can't move; it's a little worried about loss but 4/4 reassures everyone and that's why they call it common time. I know less about minimal techno than I do about Sweden but when "Silent" bops its muffled way through me I know some of God's thoughts, and the rest are details.
[Theon Weber]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


08. M.I.A. - Kala


Kala’s biggest thrill is that it is built without borders; globe-trotting from Liberia and Jamaica to Brazil and Baltimore for a grab-bag of tribal, almost jarringly disjointed, array of sounds and beats. Regardless if her skills as an MC are up to snuff or her reliance on male producers (here Switch, DJ Blaqstarr, Timbaland, and Diplo lend a hand) is in question, songs like the Bollywood scorcher “Jimmy” and the frenetic voodoo of “Bird Flu” are examples of hip-hop and pop at their freshest and most dangerous precipice. Polarizing as she may be, by cutting and pasting Clash samples (”Paper Planes”) or Oxfam philosophies (”World Town”) into giddy collages of melody and third-world representation, Kala is a major step in crowning M.I.A. both earth’s reigning diva (move over Bjork) and its 21st century conscious.
[Kevin Elliott]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


07. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga


Spoon makes rock music the same way Robert De Niro acts: by building significance through the accumulation of small, effective gestures. Every sideways flick of the eyes hints at the world of hurt beneath a De Niro take, and every minutely registered air disturbance on a Spoon record heightens the drama. Like De Niro, lead singer Britt Daniel exudes a wounded, brooding masculinity, grappling mutely with a pain he struggles to name. He remains haunted by visions of classic malehood—dad’s perfectly pressed fitted shirt on Girls Can Tell’s “The Fitted Shirt,” or here: “Picture yourself in a living room/your pipe and slippers laid out for you,” from “The Underdog.”

The best moments on their enigmatically titled sixth studio album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga explore this cavern of unspoken hurt, the nebulous territory between the swagger and the limp. There’s a startling moment near the end of “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” that encapsulates this nervy ambiguity. The mix suddenly drops out, bringing to the foreground all the rustling little sounds the band makes in the studio; Jim Eno restlessly tests a few drums, a nervous little guitar lick spontaneously erupts, someone whispers and shuffles. It’s as if the confident façade has suddenly dropped away, revealing the vulnerable, anxious heart beating behind the bluster.
[Jayson Greene]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


06. Kanye West - Graduation


Amidst all the recent hullabaloo over indie-rock’s apparent estrangement from rhythm and soul (and the unsurprising counter-argument that mainstream pop and rap aren’t exactly conversant with freak-folk and twee either), an ideal seems to have been aggregated of an artist who can effortlessly surmount such distinctions of race, class and genre.

Lucky for us then that such a savior already exists in the ever-so-humble visage of Kanye West, sampling Can without self-consciousness, putting Chris Martin on without sacrificing "streetness," exposing diplomas and hood cred as equally illusory. And this isn’t about some tokenist, "rap album it’s OK to like" bullshit either, but rather about an artist who has crafted a persona generous enough to communicate compellingly with hipsters, self-styled thugs and Middle America all at once. Certainly this needn’t be the aim of all artists (niches need love too), but this is what you handwringing motherfuckers were asking for, ain’t it?
[Josh Love]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


05. The National - The Boxer


Boxer seems an unlikely album to inspire devotion—intensely modest, even soporific, songs sung in an effete baritone that suggests the singer is either working out a Leonard Cohen fetish, or else badly overslept. But even more than Alligator these are songs of unplumbed depths, moved by crosscurrents of unease and disaffection, a sense of being less than master of one’s destiny.

Berninger’s slim, wryly apologetic lyrics are the journal entries of a disenchanted romantic—the lucid mumblings of a twitchy, punchdrunk ego wary of the following footsteps, neither quite conscious nor un-. Boxer is not exorcism or ecstasy, but mimesis rendered lovely: we see ourselves, “Showered and blue-blazered.” And the thrill of recognition is no less acute, nor less devotional, for being unwelcome, unflattering, disturbing.
[Andrew Iliff]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


04. Lil Wayne - Da Drought 3


From the digestive tract to Mars. Weezy doesn’t just have range—he’s damn near cellular. Or more precisely, he’s a Golgi apparatus: in comes the tepid pop, out goes the rejuvenated, juvenile bundle of phonetic hip-hop energy. The best Lil’ Wayne mix tape in a year stuffed with merely successful ones, the two-disc hydra of Da Drought 3 is, in a bizarre way, a supreme exercise in economy. He’s reusing and recycling, getting rippling, rich productions out of the hands of DJ UNK, Jibbs, Dipset, MIMS, rhyming “Emmett Till” and “Johnny Gill” and expanding into every conceivable cadence these songs can hold. He’s not human; he’s a chimera, a super-virus of bloodied emotions, taunts and pure sounds running as fast as voltage through the body.
[Evan McGarvey]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


03. Panda Bear - Person Pitch


I have ceased trying to reconcile Person Pitch’s conflating ingredients. Noah Lennox’s domesticity with “I’m not trying to forget you with / I like to be alone.” The Beach Boys with Lennox’s garbling of dance music. “Sure, the Wilson brothers seemed a little stiff, but I bet Mike Love could cut a rug…” …stop. Just stop it. Do not try to parse this album’s loves; they are many. Besides, you get the feeling that those samplers that Lennox stands over hold more than just the whirring, incandescent sonic arches of the album; that it’s possible he’s got a patch labeled “fatherhood,” or one for “sobriety.” That he’s fucking with the cutoff filter on Lisbon. An analog delay on spirituality. No, there’s not time to sort through this sort of mischief; just help it love, instead.
[Andrew Gaerig]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


02. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


Since young guys with indie tastes tend to vote for country albums only when Jenny Lewis and Gretchen Wilson are snarling them, the enthusiasm for Miranda Lambert's sophomore effort aroused suspicion. After two lead cuts that announce Lambert's allegiance both to the outlaw mythos to which too many country stars have been enamored and the Nashville novelty number, she digs deeper: a rueful midtempo song about small town life that would scare the shit out of John Mellencamp; something called "Desperation" in which she calls herself a bitch and asks for a bone; and a "Jolene" rewrite less sympathetic and more self-coruscating than the original and thus perfectly suitable for post-teenage angst.

But "Guilty In Here"'s gotten the most attention, and deservedly. Put aside its Jagger-baiting allusion to boys under her thumb and it's still amazing—it goes beyond novelty and outlawery to articulate the limitless appetite of young women whose horniness-with-brains butts heads against the men who are unworthiest to comprehend it.
[Alfred Soto]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]


01. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver


Never in my tenure at Stylus has an album felt so immediately like a year’s summation as LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver. Now almost a full year from its leak, LCD Soundsystem’s follow-up was immediate proof not only of James Murphy’s growth as a songwriter and sound-designer, but also the first indication we record lovers were in for a good year (and it has been). Sound of Silver has a favorite for every fraction of the day; the stirring spastic grooves of “North American Scum” and “Us V Them” to get you limber in the morning; the title track’s dead-eyed machine soul for post-lunch zoneouts; even the ludicrous piano-balladry of “New York, I Love You (But You’re Bringing Me Down),” which set its pitch to something novel and grand for departure-times, teasing our static notion of the album closer the same way “Losing My Edge” ridiculed our we-were-theres ‘cause nobody saw us enter.

But it was the album’s wide-sprung center which really caught us cold—the warbling, love-sour “Someone Great” and the shimmering glide of “All My Friends.” Murphy still sounded hip-slung and glammy, sure. But the dude had assumed the shape of reminiscence, fond years, in songs you’ll have to play decades from now to put a bit of green and red back in days gone photo-gray. In many ways, Sound of Silver houses all of those genres we at Stylus have tried to keep in front of us over the years, from pillowy pop bursts to thick-as-shag dance jams. Fitting then, that in the week that we close our doors, we come to this album as to one we know we’ll still need in thirty years. Even if we have to settle with tapping our feet to its steady, vivid pulse instead of dancin’ its fire out.
[Derek Miller]
[Stylus Review][MySpace][YouTube]



By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2007-10-31
Comments (34)
 

 
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