The Can You Hear This Countdown: Album of the Year

Picture Perfect: 2011’s best (according to Henry, Michael, Jonah and Bal) albums

Ho, ho, ho. Welcome to the second installment of the Can You Hear This Countdown (we’re going to work on a better name for next year but as I am editing this at 2:00 am that’s what you’re getting- Merry Christmas.) We’re moving on from single of the year to album of the year now. Since I started writing for Can You Hear This, I’ve noticed how much more I listen to albums as a whole. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just listening to singles (hell, most of my favourite artists are probably classified as singles artists) but when you hear 10 or so tracks back to back, it can lend individual songs more coherency. Of course, it can also make something seem even more incongruous but I crave context. And in 2011, albums like 4 and Take Care only really come into their own when heard as a whole. So there you go, my new years resolution: Listen to more albums. I’m a man of ambition, you can see. Final installment’s on Friday (Friday, Friday.)
Album of the year:
Henry: Hurry Up,We’re Dreaming – M83
I can safely say that m83’s latest album was the best purchase I made in 2011. That’s as much to do with quality as it is with quantity. There were 22 freakin’ tracks on this album, 2 CDS and a wonderful pull-out album artwork. In a world where half the ‘deluxe’ editions of albums I buy are filled with remixes from underground french DJs, HUWD was beautifully refreshing. Also refreshing: the actual sound of the album. From the much praised Midnight City (which could have easily been my single of the year) to the novel, giddy Raconte-Moi Une Histoire and the beautiful Splendour, I couldn’t have higher for this album. It’s astounding how intricately it’s been created, how much thought has clearly gone into every sweeping, spectacular song but that it remains so youthfully organic. Part of its organic nature lies in its inexplicability. It’s youthful, quietly epic and very, very french. And yet, where does HU,WD fit in the music’s current landscape? In the same way that Chase & Status picked up Dubstep from thirty years ago, sprinkled it into the top 40 and launched a thousand Dubstep imitations, I hope M83 pulls off the same trick. In a year’s time, my single of the year could be a synth-laiden, M83-Arcade Fire circa Neon Bible hybrid, Katy Perry track. HU,WD is an album to buy, tell everyone about and cherish. Forever.
 
Michael- Young The Giant – Young The Giant

Young the Giant’s debut, self-titled album was the epitome of a perfect start. There will be no need for practice to make perfect for the California quintet on their second record because the first was just utterly mesmerising. I’ve mentioned My Body and Cough Syrup before but the quality of the album is just so consistently brilliant that no record has been across every track as consistently good as Young the Giant.

Jonah: Take Care – Drake
Okay this is an obvious choice. But you know what, he deserves it. This album is so many things. It’s a thoughtful reflection and post-mortem of relationships, it’s a get-up-and-get-going album. It’s Drake’s past, present, and future all bundled into one delicious package that I cannot take off of repeat. I go through a phase of obsession with each song. It might have an array of big names featured, but Take Care is a different, more honest kind of rap that gives listeners a greater insight into Drake’s life and origins. Not one to be missed.
Bal: Burst Apart – The Antlers

I can’t think of another album this year that so wholeheartedly floored me when I first listened to it. The wrenching, tormenting vocals of Silberman present in all the tracks adds up to a package of perfect melancholia. Having garnered a cult following with their last album Hospice, it seems they can continue their rise with a more flexible sound: staying soft but still being able to reach those grand heights.

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