Albums of 2008
- Santogold – Santogold
Santogold captures a vibe I haven’t heard since No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, a nearly perfect mix of excellent production value and catchy tunes with a dab of island feel, not to mention a Gwen Stefani-esque vocalist in Santi White. While the self-titled release sometimes is a little too reggae for my tastes, songs like “Say Aha” and “L.E.S. Artistes” find a perfect balance, and even those moments (“Unstoppable” and “Shove It” where it might seem too dub, it’s fantastically good. The range of styles, from the indie “Lights Out” to the trippy “Anne” create a distinct and varied album worth several listens.
- She & Him – Volume One
I have a crush on Zooey Deschanel. Sadly, after listening to her team-up with M. Ward, I simply haven’t been sold on her as a singer. Her voice isn’t terrible, but on the opening “Sentimental Heart” it hurts. Keeping to the lower ranges helps, except when she gets behind a kazoo. Some of the songs seem almost Beatles-esque (“Sweet Darlin'” and “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”), while others are much more indebted to country or the Carpenters (“Got Me”). No matter what style though, the songs are almost invariably forgettable and cutely bland.
- Spiritualized – Songs in A & E
Spiritualized hit a lot of radars with “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space,” and given their previous entries, I wouldn’t have expected much life out of Songs in A & E. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by “I Gotta Fire” and “Yeah Yeah” as more upbeat entries. Their slower stuff shone with “Sweet Talk” and “Baby I’m Just a Fool.” While it certainly won’t be considered their best, Songs in A & E outshines their last album Amazing Grace and makes them relevant once again.
- Stereolab – Chemical Chords
If the novelty of Stereolab and their loungetastic French songs hasn’t worn off yet, then you’ll likely love this album. If it has, then this is a great outing for the group, but it’s far from perfect. I adore “Three Women” and “The Estatic State.” There really isn’t a bad song on the album, though some moments of odd chord choices like in “The Nth Degree” can be alarming and surprising. Definitely a great album.