The Quietus’ Reductive & Subjective Albums Of The (Half) Year: 2009

The months slide away like greased ferrets down a drainpipe. It's halfway through '09 already and here are The Quietus' favourite albums so far

Casting our net far and wide, our Reductive and Subjective top 10 albums of the year so far was compiled by Quietus Editors John Doran and Luke Turner with some help from trusty young News Scribe Ben Hewitt. This is because we reject all stupidly democratic notions of web 2.0 like we would a festering 6,000 litre silage pit. We do see ourselves as something of a benign and munificent disco doom dubstep dictatorship and will do anything in our power to stay out of the influence of organised online posses of Marillion block voters and pollers.

We would actually like to know what you’ve thought of the year so far so either email us at info @ thequietus dot com or undergo the labyrinthine and tortuous sign-up procedure to leave a message.

We have used the scientific means of just chosing the albums that we’ve spent most time listening to at home and in the office, while enjoying a robust slice of yarg on a water cracker and a cup of coffee so strong it could permanently disturb the electrolytes in your brain.

Anyway, here are our top ten albums arranged not in any kind of quality order but from least to most hirsute:

  1. La Roux – La Roux

Hirsuteness: Pretty low. Like the star of a film called The Woman Who Fell To Earth not even her ace quiff looks particularly real.

"That track has now shifted nearly half a million copies, and La Roux sold out her autumn date at London’s Scala in five minutes. Her next single ‘Bulletproof’ has the potential to do even better than the last and, more importantly, her eponymous debut album is packed with killer tracks, opening with a slew of superlative pop bangers before introducing slower material that, for once, doesn’t drag out the stools of R&B that have formed the filler on every disappointing British pop album over the past two decades. Yes, so her music is built around Langmaid’s judicious deployment of lush synthesiser arrangements and sprightly beats, but La Roux is never an album that’s merely an 80s retread. " Luke Turner

Read our interview with La Roux here.

  1. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

"With all hands on deck, Veckatimest finds Grizzly Bear stepping out of Yellow House’s confined spaces to explore a wider landscape. This may lack the immediacy of its predecessor, but offers ample reward for those willing to give it the necessary time." Charles Ubaghs

Hirsuteness: Grizzly Bear aren’t very hairy. In fact they resemble scalped voles.

Read our review of Veckatimest here.

  1. Fever Ray – Fever Ray

"Fever Ray is an album that burrows itself into the brain before nestling down for the long haul. By taking electronics forward but without sacrificing accessibility, Andersson has fashioned an album that demands and receives full immersion. Its brooding personality is, on occasion, challenging and awkward, but this is something that’s worth getting to grips with." Julian Marszalek

Hirsuteness: Karen Dreijer Andersson obviously isn’t particularly hairy but her amazing debut involves her indulging in zoomorphic fantasies that see her transformed into furry woodland animals.

Read our review of Fever Ray here.

  1. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns

Hirsuteness: Natasha Kahn, gets an honourary boosting up from the bottom of the table because of her love of hirsute gentlemen, as she explained to us in an interview earlier this year, much to the distress of Quietus Editor John Doran who had just removed his lustrous and ursine beard.

"Two Suns, despite the title, is manifestly a nocturnal affair, constantly referencing the fading and return of daylight. Heartache and absence are dominant themes; be it husbands lost at sea (as lest we forget exquisitely explored on Bush’s ‘The Ninth Wave’) or lovers lost to the arms of others. The songs embrace the totality of love rather than hint at emotional nuance. As has been noted, against the backdrop of ‘ordinary girl making sense of the world’ narratives explored by her contemporaries, Khan is a far more ambitious conceptualist. There’s a thirst for magic, for the suspension of disbelief and immersion in dreamscape." Alex Ogg

Read our reveiw of Two Suns here.

  1. Teeth Of The Sea – Orphaned By The Ocean

Hirsuteness: Teeth Of The Sea actually sound hairier than they are but get extra points for making the most of their short dos. And Matt Colgate’s prestigious chest wig.

"These seven instrumentals contain a fascinating array of sounds: aching trumpet, ominously incessant bass, benevolent guitar, fumbling drums, forlorn monk moans, half-heard kids voices that smack of both innocence and some kind of odd evil. These are sounds that reflect the sad sads and the blue blues, that have a talent for biting a small chunk out of your heart, that make a mockery of the human condition; that dig deep, that delve under our skin like the bogeyman of youth biding phantom time beneath the bed. They are sounds that transport our memories back to the Miles Davis of Sketches of Spain and Jack Johnson; back to Meddle-era Pink Floyd, back to the hypnotic wonder of Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock and Spirit of Eden…" Austin Collings

Read our review of Orphaned By The Ocean here.

  1. Manic Street Preachers – Journal For Plague Lovers

Hirsuteness: To be hirsute can sometimes be a state of mind and the less actual folicular growth a Manic has, the more ‘hairy souled’ he is. James Dean Bradfield on this stunning return to form album is spiritually close to Kurt Cobain, Keith Richards and Geddy Lee.

"Talk about hitting the ground running… If you’d read nothing of the background to the Manic Street Preachers’ ninth album and instead expected a linear progression from 2007’s comparatively camp and bombastic Send Away The Tigers; then this opening burst of acerbic, pumping rock-muscle will totally blind-side you. Recorded in Wales’ Rockfield Studios during the latter part of 2008, Journal for Plague Lovers merges the last available musings of Richey Edwards and a mature band with the perspective and desire to process them." Mark Eglinton

Read our album review of Journal For Plague Lovers here.

  1. The Horrors – Primary Colours

Hirsuteness: Sometimes hairiness is simply a matter of volume, and at least three of these boys have massive barnets, including Farris who is rocking a stack the size of a filing cabinet.

"What’s the auditory version of rubbing your eyes in disbelief? How do you react when confronted with a sound so impossibly unlikely you need to check your own ears aren’t deceiving you? What’s the appropriate course of action when you hear something so surprising, so remarkable, and just so damn good you can’t believe it’s true?" Ben Hewitt

Read our review of Primary Colours here.

  1. Sonic Youth – The Eternal

Hirsuteness: Apart from the well groomed Kim Gordon and strangely childlike Steve Shelley, Sonic Youth are quite a shaggy bunch.

"Exactly the sort of thing you want . . . expansive and atmospheric, guitars both and uncomfortable noisy scratching. Shelley’s drum rolls judder imperiously, Gordon’s vocals take on a dark echo. Again, Sonic Youth explore gothic territories, though the picked acoustic and big sky Americana electric when they pull things back around the six minute mark are about as trad as Sonic Youth have ever been. Once again, like so much of The Eternal, ‘Massage The History’ is imbued with a sense of vitality and rejuvenation, and it seems that more than at any point in years Sonic Youth seem to have a sense of purpose and direction." Luke Turner

Read our first reaction track-by-track of The Eternal here.

  1. Arbouretum – Song Of The Pearl

Hirsuteness: Pretty full on. If Bon Iver actually did live in a shed he would probably look more like David Heumann of Arbouretum, but he would struggle to come up with a sound like this no matter where he bedded down.

"Song Of The Pearl may appear to lack some of the conviction of its predecessor: it certainly veers away from Rites Of Uncovering’s darker aspects. Its modest demeanour might place it on many a back burner in favour of the more direct, iconic hit of the new Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy album, say. But Arbouretum are songwriters for those who shy away from the centrality and ego of singer-songwriter figures, who choose, instead, to marvel at the secret life of the song itself and to seek out the spark at its core; and this is a record you’ll save for an easy listen on a dark day, and – moved and illuminated – suddenly discover that it is nothing of the sort." Frances Morgan

Read our review of Song Of The Pearl here.

  1. SunnO))) Monoliths & Dimensions

Hirsuteness: Immense hairiness. Greg has the proper long, shaggy hair/beard combo of a doom lord but one presumes even Stephen’s flowing locks are the same density as brass.

"Few would ever have expected Sunn O)))’s modus operandi to elevate their brand of avant-atavism to quite this lofty plateau, but credit is due to their accidental blurring of spurious notions of high and low culture in the process: Monoliths And Dimensions has all the sturm-und-drang one could wish from a metal record, yet genuinely takes the blissful noise of heavy amplification into thrilling uncharted territory. Indeed, with dark forces like this to contend with, those black clouds on the horizon [of trouble in the music industry] suddenly seem more irrelevant than ever." Jimmy Martin

Read our review of Monoliths & Dimensions here.

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