Music. It’s a subjective bugger, isn’t it? More than almost anything else we’d talk about here. Our tastes forever overlapping in millions of tiny Venn diagrams. But because such is our passion for it, dance about architecture we must.
Here are five albums which are unlikely to appear on anyone’s list of All-Time Favourite Records, including mine, and probably don’t even get talked about down the pub. Yet I could happily put on any one of them and be entertained from the first track to the last. That’s a serious achievement. I’m certain we all have them in our collections, so I’m shedding light on the accidentally overlooked.
Watch the Fireworks – Emma Pollock
The ex-Delgados member showcases her deft songwriting skills on this debut. Frequent changes to unexpected minor chords create an uneasy sense throughout, keeping a very Delgados feel, but this is more personal. She also possesses one of my most admired voices, not in an obvious showy-off way, but with a beauty and understatedness which can cut you down with emotion before you’ve even realised what’s happened.
Coxon had put out a few low-key solo albums before which had the odd stand-out track, but this feels like the album he was meant to write. Nothing too intellectual here, I tend to put it on in a boyish rock-out mood to do the washing up and it satisfies, despite his faux-cockney 12yr old’s voice. Probably mostly because Stephen Street really is The Man. Too many times I’ve turned over sleeves on stuff I love to reveal he’s been involved, meaning it’s one of those albums that I find I listen to 50% for the production. Damn these two men, they have made me like guitars.
Please don’t talk about Mark Linkous to me in real life, I will cry. The pain which was so much a part of his life is channelled best here into something terrifyingly beautiful. Heavy distortion and otherworldly sounds created by his unusual recording techniques (particularly apparent on his shy vocals) create a juxtaposed landscape, paired perfectly with his almost magical realist lyrical imagery. Guest featuring among others, PJ Harvey and The Cardigans’ Nina Persson, this was first played to me with a hangover and I fell in love.
This Is Not A Pulp Record. And nor should it pretend to be. Though traits of Pulp remain – it’s menacing, melodic and threaded together by sharply observed narratives on modern life (albeit with slightly less sex) – this is all Jarvis, and he’s lost none of his wit. We feel instead as though we’ve grown with him, shifting our priorities and concerns with age, watching him emerge from the shadow of massive mainstream pop success with a track declaring that ‘cunts are still running the world’. His audience is still listening.
“IIII’M DOIN’ FIIIIINE IN ALAAAAASKA”. You’re not really though, are you, mate? Evoking the cold air and harsh conditions of small-town, isolated coastal living, this is an album mainly about the youthful confusion surrounding the weight of expectation of a deep-sea fishing heritage. Niche. Instead of staying, they took inspiration, formed a band, released this in 2008 and split in 2011. Despite initially thinking it too folky for me, it has its breakout moments. It opened my eyes, illustrating a different way of life and obligations to my own. May their sons live up to it.