Mojo Readers Poll — Best Albums of 2008

11 02 2009

1. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

We said: “The most beguiling album of the year came fully formed, seemingly out of nowhere but actually from Seattle, as ancient as the seasons and as fresh as morning dew. Fleet Foxes have created a musical tonic for our times, a reminder of what humanity is capable of.”

2. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

We said: “The story of this album’s birth has entered folklore: dug out from singer and writer Justin Vernon on a sojourn to his father’s cabin in northern Wisconsin, following the end of an affair. The candid, lonesome sound of someone licking their wounds in the woods.”

3. Portishead – Third

We said: “While Beth Gibbons’ voice and lyrics remained familiar conduits of exquisite melancholy, around her Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley fashioned a slithering soundscape from shards of folk, Kraut, electro and drone. Simultaneously arcane and futuristic.”

4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

We said: “Some of [Nick Cave’s] most disturbedly imaginative songwriting to date, plumbing unexplored depths of psychosexual trauma and theistic angst. This is modern rock’n’roll at its most switched-on and alive. Bring on the sixty-something ‘Seeds!”

5. Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid

We said: “Though backdropped by tragedy – namely the death of musician pal Bryan Glancy – Seldom Seen Kid brought a romantic optimism to Elbow’s default poignancy, a weathered positivity that sought out hope in the poetry of the everyday.”

6. The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement

We said: “Bold side project liberates Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner from the weighty expectations of ‘this decade’s suburban poet’ tag and allows him to wander appreciatively through his record collection. [Plants] 21st Century tales onto sweeping symphonic canvases.”

7. AC/DC – Black Ice

We said: “An exemplary splurge of monolithic riffage. Big on hard lovin’ women and completely devoid of pretence, it converted engine-room energy into duck-walk-inducing joy.”

8. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

We said: “Bar band thunder augmented by twin-neck axe heroism, banjo-flavoured psych and even a touch of harpsichord, hymning such unlikely co-stars as Led Zeppelin, Gena Rowlands and “Saint Joe Strummer”, and concluding, with gale force poignancy, that ‘we make our own movies’.”

9. Paul Weller – 22 Dreams

We said: “Weller tracks the seasons over four sides of vinyl. With references to Syd Barrett, The White Album and William Blake plus help from guests Robert Wyatt, Noel Gallager and Graham Coxon, he delivers his most probing LP since The Style Council’s Confessions Of A Pop Group.”

10. TV On The Radio – Dear Science

We said: “Williamsburg’s finest purveyors of genre-traversing modernity put the focus on songs rather than settings, conjuring a wryly optimistic set of future-soul and indie-funk statements that deftly entwined the personal and political.”

11. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

We said: “Influences and time-zones collide into unfeasibly hooky mutant soundtracks – Gotho-disco! Krautrockabilly! Cinemadelica! – with wild reverbs, huge keyboards and slippery lyrics adding mystery and humour.”

12. Randy Newman – Harps And Angels

We said: “Now 65, the Sail Away satirist and Oscar-winning soundtracker is digging deeper than ever, into the state of the nation and his very soul.”

13. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

We said: We didn’t!

14. Brian Wilson – That Lucky Old Sun

We said: “An album of sunshine unclouded even by its absolute disconnection to the world. Brian Wilson’s most consistently enjoyable, indeed moving solo album.”

15. Glasvegas – Glasvegas

We said: “The ‘aving-it generation grew up and here’s what they left: broken families, social workers and young-offenders’ institutions. Yet it’s the razor-sharp details in James Allan’s writing that cast the longest shadow, coupled with tunes that have you guiltily punching the air.”

16. Beck – Modern Guilt

We said: “After the disappointments of Guero and The Information, Beck Hansen’s eighth album showed the post-modern poster boy getting his psychedelic groove back with a beautifully befuddled record that made impending apocalypse sound like quite the trip.”

17. Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul

We said: “A nasty, brutish rock’n’roll album that saved Oasis’s soul and proved – not before time, perhaps – that Gallagher Jr can write a song. Base thrills, menace and madness: the Oasis manifesto incarnate.”

18. Kings Of Leon – Only By The Night

We said: “Packed with songs about being rootless, alienated, misunderstood. It’s election year for Kings Of Leon and they are broadcasting their accomplishment, their ambition, their vision at every turn.”

19. Sigur Rós – me∂ su∂ í eyrum vi∂ spilum endalaust

We said: “Translated as ‘with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly’, the Icelanders fifth studio album resonates with a celestial majesty, with Jónsi Birgisson’s falsetto drifting on a glittering, glacial soundscape.”

20. Howlin’ Rain – Magnificent Fiend

We said: “Their sun-baked, lyrically feverish chooglin is more textured and melodic on these addictive new jams, ripe with Hammond-flavoured funkadelia and visionary gospel-prog.”
Not too many surprises there. For me, it’s nice to see Oasis and Brian Wilson getting some well-deserved recognition. The fans were kinder to them than Mojo’s editors/reviewers.



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