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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best of 2009: Top 5 Pop Albums

There was a time in my life where I was consumed by the darker side of life. Now, when I did make an effort to stay away from razor blades and hair dye, I was really into music that spoke about the human condition and did so in a somewhat depressing manner. Bright Eyes…the older stuff….was like a gift from god to me. Recently though, I've been really into the brighter, more upbeat side of life. If it's fun and I can sing along to it with a smile, I love it! 2009 was an okay pop music year. Not the best, but solid. With that in mind, I give you the list of the Top 5 Pop Albums of 2009.

#5. Tegan and Sara: Sainthood - The Quin sisters have been at it for years now, and despite approaching each of their new albums with a slight sense of trepidation, I always walk away pleased. It's crazy really, because the last thing I would think I'd be into is really poppy girl rock, despite the fact that I always did have a soft spot for The Bangles. Sainthood is the Canadian duo's latest record and it continues where their last left off - with infectious indie jams delicately paired with lighter, introspective gems. Sainthood may not be as instantly captivating as 2007's The Con, but it surely pays off over time.

#4. Passion Pit: Manners - Why thank you iPhone. Back when I purchased my shiny new toy in July, I had never heard of Passion Pit. And then one day while coming home from work, listening to my app, Passion Pit came on. The song was "Cuddle Fuddle" from last year's Chunk of Change EP. I loved it. The rest is history. Manners is a surprisingly solid and unique album from such a young group of musicians; kind of like this year's Vampire Weekend, though I don't encourage you to make any further connections. The album has a few rough spots that are to be expected, but the good songs are wonderful. "Little Secrets" is the best song of 2009, "Sleepyhead" is bizarrely catchy, while "Let Your Love Grow Tall" is truly inspiring. This is one hell of a pop CD, and you're stupid if you don't at least give it a chance.

#3. The Bird and the Bee: Ray Guns are Not Just the Future - I feel bad. I had compiled this list several days ago and left this album out entirely. Then I had my iPod on random and on comes "Love Letter to Japan" and I came to the realization that I had not given this album the props it deserves. The Bird and the Bee is a very talented duo, and the music on this album is some of the finest they've done yet. It ranges from stadium pop anthems ("My Love") to jazz pop ("Ray Guns"), humorous dance tracks ("Polite Dance Song") to love confessions to 80s rock gods ("Diamond Dave"). It's a very well-rounded, and well executed record. I wasn't really a fan of much of their earlier stuff, but this one is very solid.

#2. Discovery: LP - What the hell is this album? A bedroom R&B, reggae, new wave pop album with members of Vampire Weekend, Ra Ra Riot and Dirty Projectors? So it's a joke album, right? Wrong. Well, I guess that depends on who you ask. LP wasn't exactly the strongest-received album of the year, and I can see why it would turn some off. There are times all across the album where it sounds like synth lines are improvised and vocal effects are thrown in to hide an apparent lack of direction. But for what it's worth, I find LP to be a truly captivating pop record with strong hooks and rather inventive compositions. I can't get enough out of it.

#1. Wallpaper.: Doodoo Face - On any other year, it would be hard for me to imagine an album called "Doodoo Face" to make it on my, let alone anyone's, top ten list. But Wallpaper's debut album is more than just the best pop album of the year, it's one of the decade's finest as well! Pop music too often gets bogged down in the songwriting process - oh, let's put a ballad here, or make this song instantly relatable to the heartbroken. Wallpaper ignored all that mess and made Doodoo Face an incredibly fun album in the process. You won't hear music this light-hearted, this funny, any other place in 2009! No, not even with The Boy Least Likely To (surprising, I know). The fact that it can be those things and still be one of the best records of the year is a testament to how awesome Doodoo Face really is. It's a difficult acquisition, sure. You won't find it at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and hell, even Amazon is low on copies. But it's worth it! Trust me.

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