Top Five Albums of 2014, part 2
5. Gerard Way: Hesitant Alien
Yup, I covered the album when it was released back in September, and it’s just crept it’s way onto the bottom end of my list. It’s initially difficult to separate the to iterations of Way- one a military be-jacketed, eyeshadow-smeared vaudeville entertainer and the other a blood-haired Jarvis Cocker in a Nirvana t-shirt- but it’s worth sticking around to see what’s left when you do. It’s a grungy take on britpop, led by an American scene kid icon fresh off a glam-rock OD. It shouldn’t work. But it does. Hesitant Alien was patchy at worst and, at best, a soaringly well-conceived and genre-bending creation that proved solo careers are sometimes worth pursuing,
Often, when I’m sent music to review, I will listen to that music it, review it one way or the other, and then it vanishes off my radar. Sister Speak’s Rise Up For Love wasn’t like that. The San Diego group kicked things into high gear with a moving, powerful, unironically meaningful album that didn’t try to levy it’s impact with fancy instrumentation or knowing nods to the audience. Bourne from real experience, here is an unapologetically strong-willed LP, hypnotically listeneable and vastly intelligent into the bargain.
3. The Hoosiers: The News from Nowhere
Yup, consider this my coming out: I’ve always thought The Hoosiers were never given enough credit for their dexterous, excitable, occasionally deeply perceptive style of indie pop (give first album title track, The Trick to Life a go if you don’t believe me). You’re going to go one way or the other on the switches between peppy Blur-style pop and more introspective indie, but for a band that’s way, way to often written off as a one-hit wonder, The Hoosiers have produced a pretty spectacular point to the contrary. The News from Nowhere is on the brink of being lost into a pile of cracking indie albums this year: please don’t let it be.
2. Manic Street Preachers: Futurology
The simple fact of the matter is that I was never raised on MSP. I’ve been played a lot of their music as I got a bit older, and appreciated the smart lyrics and cool guitar nonsense and all their lovely 90s haircuts. I know admitting that Futurology is my favourite MSP album won’t earn me many friends, but it is: it’s the one I came to when there was no hype attached to it, giving me a chance to form my own opinions on the krautrock-inspired, arena-filling, post-Richey indie that had filtered through the gaps in their judgement.
Look, The Correspondents, that electro-swing duo from the best parts of London, have always been my band. And Puppet Loosely Strung was always going to be my album of the year. It was everything they’d hinted at in their EPs and singles and then some. Finally, I got a full-length LP packed and paced carefully with razor-sharp lyrics, gymnastic vocal delivery, and often-sparse electronic background that sketched in just enough of the colours for you to make out what they were trying to draw, from the tantric title track to the raucous singles. Start next year off right with their incendiary single Fear & Delight.