The Top Five Extended Plays of 2014
For those who like: MSMR, The Colourist, Panama Wedding, Echosmith, and Betty Who
The cover art of this EP says it all: in the scope of six songs you will experience a variety of colorful auditory adventures. You have the edgy dinosaur in Twisted Tongue, a retro-pop vibe with 60s sounding beats and beautiful echoing vocals. There’s the majestically stunning elephant in the titular Reflections which showcases Mandy’s vocal and songwriting talents. Her overarching pleasant voice over the subtle underlying guitar grooves make for an addictingly amazing contrast. There’s also the graceful hummingbird in Vagabond, the vibrant grooving tentacles in Imagination Infatuation, and an aquatic dive in Kings and Queens. You even get a solemn dove in the alluringly haunting yet comforting Coffins. In two words this album is Passionately Frenetic. Mandy Lee’s vocals are infatuating adding a subtle edge to the overall polished album. A refreshing take on a retro sound aesthetic.
Baths: Ocean Death
For those who like: Young Magic, Son Lux, Gold Panda, and Flying Lotus,
Ocean Death feels like a existential collapse into the depths of the constricting sea. The rhythmic water is dominating yet soothing. It captures the invigorating feeling of accepting fate and gaining freedom over your problems. An ocean death is only a panic until you accept the wave. Becoming one with the ocean is the same as becoming one of your emotions. Its no longer a fear but an escape. The songs following the titular song are sort of a depiction of afterlife: Fade White as an relieving sedation, Voyeur as a conscious limbo, Orator as a mechanical sensation of wisdom and reflection, and finally Yawn as a rebirth. These song titles are an accurate depiction of the literally sensational and seductive tracks off this album. They’re an internal mechanism of your mind: deep and introspective. This is an EP that needs to be sensed to get the full experience. It’s an experimental rollercoaster with unexpected sonic combinations and turns. On the second list, notice the personal lyrics and the metaphors between sound and lyric. Genius. It’s a cohesive variety for those sensitive bad-asses.
For those who like: Sir Sly, Lo-Fang, MSMR, Banks, Panama, and Mr Little Jeans
Broods debut EP is what I describe the 2014 evolution of sound to be: an experimental, electronic-alternative soul and R&B. It sounds complicated, but think about it. This year has given rise to more complex songs making use of technology but deriving structure and vibes from soul and R&B music of the 90s. If 2012-2013 was the synthpop retro-revolution of the 80s, 2014 was the fascination with the variety of sound aesthetics of the last decade of the 1900s. It almost captures the essence of the 90s as well: the frontier of the century of vast progress and the changing landscape of technology. This was the decade that legitimized alternative rock, just as 2014 was the year where alternative influences seemed to continually penetrate the mainstream Top-40—just think of Disclosure and the alt artists that crossed over into pop between 2013 and now. I digress. This EP has addicting vocal melodies against edgy and invigorating backgrounds. It’s ambient-atmospheric distinctive of the alt-soul aesthetic I was describing above. It even adds some folk into the mix with the captivating Taking You There. Euphoric Addiction is what I describe Broods to be.
For those who like: Parquet Courts, His Clancyness, Bleached, and Thee Oh Sees
As you know from many of our features, Scandinavian bands know how to make music. Case In Point: Denmark rockers Communions. Their debut EP is guttural collection of punk/guitar rock epicness. It’s gritty with emphasis on drum rhythms and reverberating vocals, but also showcases yearning subdued guitar riffs. In a time of complexity, a throwback genuine simplicity goes a long way. I would almost describe their sound as an optimistic anxiety, which is interesting since listening to this album will have you feeling refreshed. This will be your go to album when in need of a rock reminiscence. It’s classic yet forward, retro yet in the moment. It’s simple yet encapsulating. Really, there’s no words to describe how great this EP is, just listen and lose yourself in it.
For those who like: Lo-Fang, Wildcat! Wildcat!, Sir Sly, Marina & the Diamonds
We have already featured the amazing Cathedrals in one of our Obsession Mixtapes, but this EP is too good not to cover again. Anything associated with Neon Gold Records is a critical success, they have the bright Midas touch in choosing great electronic indie artists. This EP starts off with the haunting, exhilarating, intoxicating vocals that define their iconic sound. They are the Ornate Indie Gospel in Neon Gold’s Church of Epic Alternativism. Guitar/synth atmospheric layouts are the tune to my inner soul, and thus Unbound gives me strength. If you’re into subtle psychedelic sounds, OOO AAA has got you covered. There’s nothing better than a dark album that leaves you empowered after each listen. Perfect vocals. Perfect guitar riffs. Funky beats. Sultry vibes. It doesn’t get better Ladies & Gents.
Troye Sivan: TRXYE
For those who like: Broods, Echosmith,The 1975, The NBHD
The YouTube star/Actor impressed the music community this year with his debut EP. Let us not forget that YouTube and Social Media has been a great source for music discovery since it first came to existence. Troye has been crafting his music for the past year + in the best studios with the help of some of the best producers and songwriters. For example, just this week he has worked with genius Jack Antonoff (of Bleachers and Fun. fame, who has also written and produced songs with Tegan & Sara among others). Troye is a universally respected personality, and that same level of respectability and talent carries over into his music. TRXYE is a very personal project and you can feel the emotion in the whole EP. Happy Little Pill has that 2014 sound of ambient alt-soul with precision crafted/yearning lyrics.Touch has the electro-experimental vibes contrasted against passionate stripped-down vocal-heavy verses. Gasoline is the most emotional and personal off the album, and really showcases the songwriting talent and vocal capability of Troye. Not surprisingly, Troye has been named one of Spotify’s spotlight artist of 2015. I think we can expect a lot more of this well crafted music in the year to come.
Neon Trees has always been a band in between alternative and pop. Their “dance-punk” sound is different than the other songs on Top-40 and Alt-Rock radio but they continue to be a generally favored band in both worlds. That’s because Tyler Glenn knows how to write catchy lyrics and hooks that keeps the listener entertained and thinking. Neon Trees don’t play by the rules of genres, and that rebel attitude makes for amazing music. Bar none, Neon Trees will always be my favorite bands that blend the popular with the alternative. As for their latest album, you can really understand the personal and musical growth in this soundtrack of 21st century Romance Anthems deriving from 80s-90s pop vibes. Sleeping With A Friend is probably one of my favorite tracks of the year with the dreamy synths, powerful drums, grooving guitar and bass riffs in the underlayer and of course those streamlined lyrics. You can sense the anxiety and the longing simultaneously. Its a song you can revel or ball your eyes out to. Its Tears For Fears for today’s passionate youth. The rest of the album is the same way in conveying emotion in a catchy and edgy way.This is a pick-me-up album as much as it is a drain-your-feelings one: listen to Teenager in Love, Foolish Behavior and I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends). This is a great album and it deserves your attention and obsession.
The Black Keys: Turn Blue
I’m not a Black Keys hater, nor disciple, nor apologist. They’re just a band I thoroughly enjoy and that’s that. Do I agree that they are one of the most talented rock bands of our generation? Yes. Do I think their creative process and production quality is impeccable? Yes. Do I agree with their outrageous opinions? Sometimes. Do I agree with Rolling Stone that Turn Blue deserves a 4.5 (almost classic) album review? No, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great. The band continues to evolve their music to new levels of interest, but remain true to their central sound. I agree with most of the other critical reviews that it is an album you can get lost in and enjoy as a turntable listen, cover to cover. It’s great and it leaves you wanting more from the duo. The album is definitely memorable, but among the other new rock music out this year, I think it gets lost. This review seems like a downer, but what I’m getting at is that this album is worth the listen, but there’s better 2014 albums out there.Turn Blue is an album you can always come back to and gain something from, just as all the other Black Keys albums. It’s like a good book that you enjoy re-reading, but it’s not the only book you should read because it will become stale. Taking time away from it and letting it sit on the shelf to ripen will make it more enjoyable when you return to it. Don’t be a disciple or a hater, but love Turn Blue for what it is, a great album among others.
Wolf Gang: Alveron
We have featured Wolf Gang in one of Obsession Mixtapes before and we cannot get enough of them. Alveron is one of those albums that needs more attention. It’s quite fitting that the first track is titled Now I Can Feel It, because that’s exactly what the listener will experience: a journey of intense and radiant feeling. The critically-acclaimed alternative band brings genuine raw power in this album. The atmospheric synths, weaving and driving rhythm section, and the desire-filled vocal melodies are what hit the soul with a forceful spirit. This album is simply rejuvenating. This album just demands multiple listens and devotion to it. The unexpected instrumentals, especially in Ghost In My Life, will inspire you. My words won’t do it justice, Alveron needs to be experienced. I can feel great things happening for this this talented group in 2015.
There’s no better words to describe Hozier’s sound than Jon Dolan’s “Blessed with a sensual singing voice and a seemingly bottomless well of lapsed-Catholic-style conflict, Hozier channels Van Morrison’s Celtic R&B.” Celtic R&B is probably my new favorite phrase, beating out this year’s ”conscious uncoupling.” Hozier has a comforting, haunting and enchanting voice that can make a phone book a Billboard hit. Just when you thought you had enough saturation of alternative-folk, Hozier comes along and refreshes the entire scene. If the alternative world was a bohemian coffee shop (not a far-stretched metaphor), Hozier is definitely the beloved open-mic act belting out genius interpretations of comforting favorites. Any artist that makes me crave another cup of coffee is amazing in my book.The album has an interesting variety of folk inspired rock and blues: the dark, stomping, on-edge and echoing Angel of Small Death of the Codeine Scene, the bouncy and uplifting Alabama Shakes’s reminiscent Someone New, the twangy dominating To Be Alone, the alternative-soul grooving Sedated, the gospel Work Scene, the psychadelic-rock It Will Come Back, and the Forrest soliloquy of Cherry Wine. If Hozier is the preacher and the chorus, take me to church.
Swans: To Be Kind
Note: This is an incredible album, but it is not for everyone: it demands a lot from the listener at 2+ hours long. Swans give us experimental innovation in To Be Kind. If you’ve seen Frank and you wanted that kind of eclectic yet addicting music, this is the album for you. If you like the musical idea of St. Vincent’s dystopian “near future cult” Swans will give you the revolutionary counter-vibe to it. The best way to describe this album is an amalgamation of great sound aesthetics recreated into a unique entrancing sound. They are long tracks, but they leave you wanting more. They get into your head with intricately layered and isolated instrumentals. A great album opener, Screenshot, is a darker, twisted Franz Ferdinand meets demented revolutionary Nico Vega type. Some Things We Do will explore the depths of your mind. She Loves Us is a 16 minute guitar development that encapsulates an ancient tribal ceremonial vibe.Oxygen is a disturbed Incubus cry for help. Really, what all these songs have in common is the sense that this music is a domineering conscience building in you: A Little God In My Hands. This trope gets culminated in the end with a vulnerable contrasting relief at the end of Natalie Neal, which leads into the titular closer: To Be Kind is the fallen lullaby from our Grim-Reaper Jiminy Cricket. This is the perfect album for though, paralyzed thought of the “Universal Mind” to use their lyrics. Simply incredible. Who doesn’t love an album with a 34-minute overture interlude?
Walk The Moon: Talking Is Hard
What A Sophomore Album Should Be: Authentic Yet Consciously Evolved
Songs of Interest: Spend Your $$$, Portugal, Down In The Dumps
Jack White: Lazaretto
White’s Cool Classic Sound: Addicting Funky Melodies, Exceptional Instrumental Work
Songs of Interest: That Black Bat Licorice, Three Women, High Ball Stepper
Sylvan Esso: Sylvan Esso
Rhythmically Interesting and Mesmerizing Vocals Juxtaposed Against Reductive Syncopated Electropop
Songs of Interest: Dreamy Bruises, Coffee, Wolf
Bad Suns: Language and Perspective
Prospective, Receptive and Introspective California Rock. Metaphoric Lyrics. Grooving Riffs.
Songs of Interest: Rearview, Dancing On Quicksand, Salt
Top 15 List
Why It’s One of 2014’s Best Albums:
What separates the top albums from the others is a cohesive and clear artistic vision, when most modern albums are concerned with pumping out singles and not the overall arc. This is a prime example of artistic vision at work: these are today’s traditional folk-songs with imaginative, soulful, and cultural insight. It’s a modern Pomp and Circumstance with celebratory vibe. These songs are eclectically diverse, yet somehow interconnected. They’re mechanical when they need to be, and free-form when you need relief. They’re intricately layered, yet euphoric and lyrical. More adjectives to describe this collection: festive, ornamental, inviting, expressive. This album innovates and reconfigures standard synthpop. It makes the listener feel at home with experimental-ism. The album makes the new and foreign nonthreatening. It is the microcosm of contemporary world-music, which even includes that 2014 alternative electro-soul/R&B sound (example: Home By Now). So Long, See You Tomorrow is not just a album vision, it’s a friendly environment you can escape to. Cover to cover it is a day in the life in the multicultural future, where you awake and fall asleep to a joyous celebration.
The aurally stunning Whenever, Wherever with it’s dreamy piano licks, atmospheric background, and encapsulating yearning lyrics sung by passionate vocals. I mean, how comforting yet aching are the lyrics:
“I’ll be the night fly looking for your sin
You be the bright light drawing me in
No room for doubt, so just stubbornly keep on
But for how long?”
14) Magic Man: Before The Waves
Why It’s One of 2014’s Best Albums:
The opening sampled recording says it all “You are about to embark on the most wonderful experience of your life.” This album is the epitome of EXPERIENCE, and I’m not just saying that because of their epic live performances. Upon listening to the upbeat edgy synthpop, you are caught within a trance you do not want to escape. It’s genuine, captivating and full of spirit. The album’s a journey: it starts with a galloping, riding-theme reminiscent of the Wild West in Texas, takes you into the majestic expanse in Apollo, flies you over the dreamlike atmosphere in Paris, and shows you the unexpected in Chicagoland. The journey is within yourself and around the universe in the euphoric depths of humanity. It’s almost like the charismatic Alex Caplow and crew are a company of optimistic Peter Pans helping us indie-darlings escape the angst and anxiety of everyday life with their magical, fantastical melodies. The lyrics describe the infectious album themselves “a fantasy taking over like a disease” “it’s so hard to get away” “shout together. stay forever” “tonight we’re all believers” “everyday I want you in my life…everyday I want to feel alive.” Every song is a hit and keeps you wanting more. Before The Waves is my choice for debut album of the year. Fall into the spell that is Magic Man and dream like you’ve never had before.
A perfect example of the addicting passion, impeccably catchy guitar riffs, and creative breakdowns of the album, Out Of Mind is on constant repeat. You got to love the thought-provoking final lyrics as well:
"But if this is the end, then when was the start?
They say it’s getting better
I know you
But do you know me?
Do you know me?”
13) Alvvays: Alvvays
Why It’s One of 2014’s Best Albums:
10 Word Album Review: Millennial Romance Yearning Crisis in a Best Coast-type vibe.
If that’s too vague for you, sometimes quoting is the best way to express feeling. Pitchfork has depicted my thoughts exactly in their review:
"Alvvays actually proves to be a perfect visual manifestation of this band’s thematic framework: with nearly every crestfallen song on their debut pitched at the crossroads of commitment and abandonment, nostalgia and uncertainty, the band’s name effectively becomes the textual representation of the broken promises catalogued within…. Alvvays sticks out from the infinite number of contemporary indie acts forging a similar union between early-’60s AM-radio pop and late-’80s freak-scene discord…. This sense of irreverence bleeds into the album’s production, whose scabrous guitar lines, synth-blurred vistas, and drum-machine experiments reveal the band are hardly the purists their pedigree might indicate. Presenting a brighter contrast to the claustrophobic insularity heard on VanGaalen’s own recordings and in his work with the much-missed Women, Alvvays eagerly scuffs up the band’s gold sounds with dissonant edges—not to deliberately obscure the gleaming melodies or make the band seem tougher than they are, but to enhance the very feeling of raw-nerved unrest seeping through Rankin’s lyric sheet. This is the sound of pristine pop music blasted through cheap, blown-out headphones—and every time it seems like a song is about to decay before your ears, you sense both the sadness and liberation of knowing that nothing lasts forever."
Capturing the subtle essence of She & Him, Next Of Kin perfectly embodies that Millennial Romance Yearning Crisis. It’s a song of complex melancholic emotions between regret, numbness, and isolation. There’s a dual feeling with a deceptively optimistic melody against depressed lyrics. You can really hear the vulnerability, yet also the vacancy, the pain, yet the survival. It’s beauty in the flawed. You can sense the sweet-sour discord in a mind caught in recollection. The guitar line breakdown really captures the mind-wandering memory.
“His arms so hard, I saw his skin through his t-shirt
They grabbed so tight, he knew they wouldn’t defend
We climbed into the stream so no one will be heard
And in no time at all it wasn’t a sound
I left my love in the river
The only one I see
I lost his hand in the current
And now I have grown through the trees”
12) Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal
Why It’s One of 2014’s Best Albums:
Sunbathing Animals is an alternative-rock hit, simple as that. In a musical era when the scene is dominated by synth bands and low-emphasis on guitar-rock, Parquet Courts take us back to our roots. It’s refreshing simplicity in a sometimes cacophonous age. Their sound is reminiscent of the angsty post-grunge/punk alt-rock scene of the early-mid 2000s, where Phantom Planet, Bloc Party, The Strokes, and Franz Ferdinand saw their prime. It’s straightforward but interesting nonetheless, with the ear-worm guitar riffage, the wittingly incisive lyrics, and the raw and distorted breakdowns. The best way to describe this album is the cool big brother who shows you around the streets and introduces you to the scene.
It’s such a hard choice to pick just one song from this album, because this alt-rock sound is how i got interested in the indie/alternative. Ducking & Dodging reminds me of The Who and The Rolling Stones, Into the Garden dives into the experimental, She’s Rolling is meta with it’s psychedelic vibe, Bodies Made Of and Black and White makes me nostalgic for my back catalog of classics. If I had to pick one song, it would be Dear Ramona because of the Cake comparison Pitchfork made, the funky rhythmic vocals and for my favorite lines:
"She fixes breakfast for two in the morning and drinks dark coffee at night
Whoever she might be going to bed with, you can read about that in her moleskin”
11) BANKS: Goddess
Why It’s One of 2014’s Best Albums:
I’ve mentioned Pitchfork in my last two reviews, but this album is one that I disagree with them on. The only good point made in that review is calling her music ”trip-hop influenced R&B.” I agree, the music is 90’s influenced album that captures the evolution in alt sound this year: moving away from the bright 80s electro/synthpop of the early 2010’s and diving into a dark grungier soul vibe. Goddess is a haunting, ornate approach to dark electropop. The sultry beats and the subtle atmospheric backgrounds combined with stream-of-consciousness lyrics and fantastic echoing vocals by Jillian Banks make for a knockout performance-album. The album does take a couple of song to settle into due to the gloomy, misty, and adventurous vision of the album, but overall it’s an un-fearing and powerful showcase of infectious emotions and utter talent.
To put it simply, Brain is the wandering cerebral passion hit of the album. Listen to those belting vocals and not be taken aback, I dare you.
“Oh so cool you seem
Blending with that scene
Wearing what you think is hard
Always trying to calculate
Trying to look smart but not too smart
To threaten everything they say”
10) Temples: Sun Structures
Upon listening to this album you immediately think The Beatles. Sun Structures is a retro psychedelic rock album, but it is not just a reiteration of late-60s sound. It is The Beatles, but it is also a mix of The Black Keys meets classic Arctic Monkeys. Though retro, it is not dated by any means. The album is a nice variety of thought-pieces that have a shared sound aesthetic, but also an authentic enter. The innovation comes from the derivation from the norm, playing with the sound scapes with stimulating lyrics, crawling and unexpected guitar lines, and the occasional background atmospheric synths. The songs work great alone, but are best together. Golden Throne is full with creepy bass, Mesmerize is fitting to its title with interesting guitar and bass riff combinations and my favorite lyrics off the album, Sand Dance is what the product would be if the three bands listed above made their way to Burning Man and wrote together, and Fragment’s Light is the perfect pensive folk outro.
9) The War on Drugs: Lost In The Dream
To quote Rolling Stone “The War on Drugs make archetypal road-trip music: shimmering, steady, gritty as pavement and open as the sky.” The title of this album is very fitting, as the album is inviting with its guitar-synth-piano combination that are very cerebral. Lost In The Dreams is the epitome of chill, a perfect vibe for a drive down the coast. It’s an representation emotional invincibility and a confident grin. The 6-8 minutes tracks are a introspective comfort, just like a good cup of coffee on a slow morning with the fog rolling in.
8) Julian Casablancas + The Voidz: Tyranny
After the latest disappointing Strokes record, Casablancas redeems himself with perfect artistic vision and power in this new project. Tyranny is a lyrical dream turned epic dystopian mechanical nightmare. With shredding guitar breakdowns, interesting media sampling and a twisted edginess, it’s a new age punk rock album. It’s the Strokes album you desired but didn’t expect. You can sense the 80s influence in this album: Father Electricity for a real trip, Johan Von Bronx for a rock-symphony masterpiece, and Nintendo Blood for a slow-motion meltdown. My favorite off the album is reminscent of The Hives’ Hate To Say I Told You So”: Crunch Punch is the most grooving and self-aware track. Yet another reason to praise the Master Casablancas.
7) Alt-J: This Is All Yours
This is album that needs no explanation on to why it’s one of the best albums of the year: it just simply is. Any group that can write such a captivating instrumental intro and then follow it with track after track of seemingly free-form improvisational masterpieces are geniuses and worthy of the title “New Radiohead.” The alt-folk album flows from each atmospheric track to the next, making it seem like one innovative song that you never want to end. I’m the biggest fan and critic of creative breakdowns and alt-J just brings it and exceeds my expectations on this sophomore studio album. It’s hard to believe that these guys haven’t been around for decades with their well-crafted sound. I mean, how could you not love a band that can write an addicting alt-radio hit in 20 minutes by making fun of tropes and formatting of outdated alt-radio hits. They’re self-aware, ironic, and meta but authentic, innovative and flawless. My words cannot describe this album: just let yourself be taken away by it yourselves.
6) Bleachers: Strange Desire
There was no bigger breakout alternative band this year than the Jack Antonoff led Bleachers. This is the anthem album of the year with such epic singles as I Want to Get Better and Rollercoaster. Interestingly, this anthem album is often described as “therapy rock” because of the very vulnerable introspective lyrics that showcase Antonoff’s bewildered yet thoughtful mind. Innovative yet nostalgic indiepop, in sound and in tone.
5) Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways
This album made the list because it was the largest alternative event this year. Only the genius mind of legendary Dave Grohl can think and produce such a creative, yet authentic project. Not only did he record 8 songs in 8 different studios around the country, he makes a television show out of it and teaches the world a lesson about music scenes and the record industry. For those of you complaining that the record sounds like every other Foo album, my counterargument is that this standard rock album captures the essence of every city and it’s accompanying musical history it was produced in, with Grohl’s precise lyrics written off-the-cuff during production. If you can create that same level of an event and make it this awesome, exceeding expectations and continuing legacy, then by all means complain. If not, appreciate the work and dedication that went into this epic event
4) First Aid Kit: Stay Gold
As we all know, the Swedish really know to make great music. If you need example, scroll through the blog. In this case, we get the best alt-folk album of the year. They somehow make the standard mid-century folk innovative. I’m convinced that these women are Johnny Cash reincarnate, with invigorating and captivating vocals. The melodies on this record seem natural and almost folk-song improvisational. Stay Gold is the album with the most heart, a album you can truly escape into and wander. It has a passionate delicateness. Here 2015, this is the new standard for modern folk.
3) Future Islands: Singles
Let’s keep this simple: this album is the closet thing to an in-the-moment classic. It’s familiar, yet intriguing. It’s warm, yet at points haunting. It’s a futuristic nostalgia with a electro-atmospheric rock sound. Singles is appropriate title as each song will keep you entranced and yearning, trapped in thought.
2) Perfume Genius: Too Bright
This is a knockout album. A definite classic that will be a cornerstone of alternative music in 2015 and on. The vocals blow you away from the start. Welcome to the Gospel according to Perfume Genius: He is the alt fallen-guardian angel. This album does not hold anything back and hits you a familiar ambient-experimentalism that is almost customary and comforting. Even the most yearning and personal sounds and lyrics seem elevated, in control, and confident. A great album will leave you stunned with both acoustics and electronics: this is what Too Bright does.
1) St. Vincent: St. Vincent
Annie Clark is on the top of almost every albums list and for good reason. I’ve been a fan of hers since the Strange Mercy and Love This Giant days. Her breakout self-titled album is my top album because she has created and held a coronation for her new superstar persona with St. Vincent. This was the album that was constantly spinning on all my devices. With cerebral, witty, and allegorical lyrics filled with pop-culture and dense scholarly references, against catchy pop construction--and the best and most innovative, edgy and alluring guitar work in recent ages--this album deserves its number 1 status. It’s a statement performance piece for a flawed and tense generation. It’s both a mirror to our society and a handbook for emotional thought. It’s a “party album you can play at a funeral,” a dark dance record. It’s perfect. It captures the zeitgeist while making a new textured sound. Annie is herself in the record, but so much more amplified and saintlike in a “near-future cult leader” sort of way. I gladly bring her my loves.