2009 has been a mixed year, but thank God for the decent music! I found so much solace in these awesome albums and magnificent tracks that I have to share them with you; these are my favourite albums and tracks of 2009 so far in no particular order or rhyme, and if you are lucky, they can heal your soul like they healed mine =)
I absolutely adore A Camp, the indie pop trio from Sweden, whose second album ‘Colonia’ ranks among my most played records of the year. Nina Persson of The Cardigans fame is a master storyteller; while this album’s theme is bleak and dark which focuses on religion colonialism (hence the title) amongst others, the satirical and sarcastic elements of the songs are well-hidden by the warm and distinctly Scandinavian pop-infused sounds and arrangements.
‘The Crowning’, the first single off the album, is one of my favourites of the year; taking a look and a dig at the past and present leaders of the world as well as an ignorant public who raise their ‘glasses for murderous asses’. In retrospect, ‘The Crowning’ also encompasses every pompous git and every arrogant douche-bag you have met in your life as Persson back-handedly sings ‘bells are going to ring, birds are gonna sing…the crowning of your big/ruthless head’, and you know what? Anybody can be ‘the guest of honour’ in ‘The Crowning’, the full-of-him or herself-friend or the immature brat you call your siblings.
‘Stronger than Jesus’ can be looked at from two different perspectives; one would be a blasphemous view as ‘love is stronger than Jesus’ (even though my friend Kenneth maintains that love is indeed Jesus and vice versa) and ‘anyone can look like a saviour’. The less subtle and more obvious approach would be that love is indeed the strongest entity in the world which far outstrips religion and God, and that even with ‘war and diseases’, love can pierce through your heart like a short-gun can never do. As Persson’s melodic voice rings in your ears along with the ironically happy and addictive pop rhythm, maybe you will realise that breaking somebody’s heart is condemning someone to a fate worse than God’s wrath, and you wonder ‘how people can stay alive’ when love is lost, and just maybe, people would take love as seriously as they take religion.
‘Golden Teeth and Silver Medals’ is my favourite duet of the year so far (alongside all the marvelous collaborations in ‘Dark was the Night’), and it can only be classified as a somber and solemn wedding song filled with regret and forgotten memories. As Persson and Nicolai Dunger belt out the chorus ‘golden teeth and silver medals, beauty marks and scars, that is what we got; raindrops in a reservoir and minutes in a jar, that is what we got’, you are transported to a time in the future when you are old (golden teeth), when all you can look forward to is death following years of under-achievements (silver medals). Love is like finding someone in the middle of the song of life, and merging two lives together regardless of past heartaches and scars, and when the final note of the song of life curtails, you know ‘you have won’.
If you know me personally and read my musical musings, you would have known that I am a huge Belle and Sebastian fan, and as the Scottish indie pop band are far from another studio album since the majestically-executed 2006 effort ‘The Life Pursuit’, God Help The Girl would just have to do. God Help The Girl is Belle and Sebastian singer-song writter Stuart Murdoch’s brainchild, a musical-film project which I have been eagerly anticipating since it was announced all those months ago.
God Help The Girl is a major music extravaganza featuring the original members of Belle and Sebastian as well as nine other indie singers from just about everywhere which culminate in one of my favourite retro pop-noir albums of the year so far (followed closely by Camera Obscura’s blazing ‘My Maudlin Career’). Lazy tunes like ‘Come Monday Night’, ‘I’ll Have to Dance with Cassie’ and ‘God Help The Girl’ (yes, the album, the artiste, and the single share the same name!) are reminiscent of the pure jangly pop of 50’s and 60’s classics like Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’.
Murdoch then offers ‘The Life Pursuit’ favourites like a totally revamped ‘The Act of Apostle’ and ‘Funny Little Frog’ a face-lift before introducing a character called Eve, the girl he hopes God will help, which reminds me of Sukie from ‘Sukie in the Graveyard’ in ‘The Life Pursuit’. Eve takes center-stage on most songs, taking you from a guy she crushes on to a likely bipolar disease, from being a genius and prodigy to joining an all-girl band. Eve embodies the basic human nature of hypocrisy, saying one thing in a verse and doing something completely opposite in the very next verse, and these true blue human element to the album is extremely appealing. Dashes of jazz and blues are dabbed on this old-fashioned and very retro-sounding record, and you are left with what made Murdoch and his Belle and Sebastian band so well-loved in many regions of the world – the familiarity and comfort of vintage pop music served with human flesh and blood.
Murdoch’s stories have always been less than obvious, and I just cannot wait for the film, which will start shooting in 2010, to find out the true story behind this superb soundtrack of soul and life. Come and join Murdoch and the rest of the gang in this musical journey which is by all means not a concept album, not a narrative, but a celebration, a symphonic celebration of human emotion and pop perfection.
Another self-indulgent post; gosh, I love blogging.
PS: In non-music related news, can Carlos Tevez just shut up already?