2007 my music year

Let's not beat around the bush, there is no such thing as critical distance or objectivity. This list is pure subject - the favourite music that I've listened to this year. We write to no one but ourselves, our ears are always idiosyncratic.

Maybe I listened to more 2007 albums than you (around 70, I think), maybe less - I'm sure my listening history is different to your’s, as is everyone's. Subjectivity doesn't invalidate this, though – well, maybe it does. But then, isn't all music criticism just about finding the right combination of casual, accessible language and technical hook-words and descriptions to convey and simultaneously cover up your fanatic passion (or distaste) for the music you're reviewing? Honestly. But, of course, every journey through music listening gives us a certain perspective on the things we listen to, and with enough effort we can mix this palette together to come up with something insightful, or, hopefully at the very least, something partially expressive of what it is we are hearing, and what those sounds are telling us - about aesthetics, about culture, about music's industry, about music itself.

And so I've mixed myself together this little list, the only reason for its existence being these are the musical events that I've folded towards. For me, the criteria for inclusion is as much about initial impact as it is longevity - why is that? Well, (and here I am about to launch into another terrible tangent) it has to do with how throughout this year I finally found a way of reconciling my relationship towards music listening. I spent much of the first half of the year bemoaning my diminishing affinity with music as I started writing about it for the first time - I felt that special buzz in the gut less when listening to something which I knew anyway was definitly good, I was disengaged from music in many ways, I was even suspecting that writing on music and thinking about it far more substantially (not just in terms of itself but trying to connect it to wider things) had destroyed that ultra special aura that had accompanied its experience throughout my life until now. Although I may have lost this sense of arcane mystique, it is far outweighed by what I’ve gained – which I could sum up as a new form of honesty in my relationship with music. I've eventually found a way, that is, to love music and be critical (musically, culturally) of it at the same time.

And for me, much of negotiating this new relationship comes down to embracing (but never becoming entirely complicit in) the lightning speed of musical connection and consumption - that is, embracing the new, and recognising the value and significance of the initial striking feeling that certain music might give you. To be sure, that doesn't mean I still don't give albums and bands time to grow on me, or that I've stopped listening to music that wasn't made in the past few months (although I've started listening to a lot more of the latter), it just means I've learnt how to harvest the constant turnover of music that the contemporary listener has available to them.

This is not necessarily the same as consumption - consumption is not thinking – although it is a kind of ‘pop’ relationship, not a rock, or indie, one (overrated). Instead, for me, it is about following the cadences of new music, but whilst riding them always considering them for more than just 'does this sound good?' although that question itself is still paramount. In that way, the total sum of more fleeting experiences can potentially be more positive than the occasional gold strike of a classic, and I can also attempt to keep my critical perspective on the zeitgeist always sharp. (So, then, I suppose this list also has a second reason for existence, one just as selfish as the first – it’s to keep me thinking, now more broadly, now less, about the music I have recently experienced.)

This is a manifesto of the new! Fuck that classicist bullshit - in fact, reverence for and wallowing in music's past is the direct cause of much of what is entirely shit about music at the moment. This tired grave robbing of old genres (post-punk, 70s stadium rock (the next big thing, believe me)), old decades (the 80s), old figures (Ian Curtis) and just simply the old is a vitality-sucking force on music. It's when we continually stop relying on, fucking leaning upon, touchstones and start considering that which is happening around us or what possibly could happen that the best of music writing (both musical and critical) occurs. Well, that's my opinion at least. And I'm sticking to it, because I damn well know that it has helped me find a way through the ever-escalating mountain of music. This, before you, is the best path I climbed through 2007.

What happened to (indie) music in 2007?

Not only did pop continue to eat itself (Britney, Kanye, Amy Winehouse, etc.), so too did indie – it is a ravenous genre, just as hungry as pop for any Other sound that it might find to bolster and reenergise its foundations – frankly, I can’t be bothered pointing out all the musical instances of this, but look back over the year and you’ll see them everywhere. And too, I’m not sure at all if this is a trend confined to this year, I think a porous relationship with its so-called opposite is inherent to indie.

But it wasn’t only the music that got pop. Indie as a genre, an industry, a scene, experienced the greatest moments of its popification. Indie now follows the same distribution forms, listening habits, hype structures and obsolescence triggers as its sugary counterpart, pop. Much of this I suppose is due to new media – not only digital music but also what the blogging ‘community’ has wrought – Black Kids being case in point. The speed of consumption of indie – of all music, is so fast now. That sounds quite banal, it is – but it is something profound, and I’m not sure how to describe what it’s doing to us.

And my last bloated summation of music in 2007 – that fucking horrible indie disco (dance punk, new rave, whatever you want to call it) microtrend finally exhausted itself – although some good moments and bands were salvaged from it, in all this sound is now tired (derivative even of itself, which is just piling on the appropriation), so widespread as to be useless (Matchbox 20’s new song rides fast on the hi-hat for goodness sake) and just producing lazy, shitful music (Midnight Juggernauts, New Young Pony Club, Sneaky Sound System, etc.)

Moments - 2007

Before I launch into my favourite albums of this year, I’d like to sporadically pick out a few musical ‘moments’ – be they songs, gigs, events, whatever – that caught me this year.

Battles: Race:(In/Out) – The only tracks that manage to fully articulate the somewhat obvious, if still at times fascinating, formal schematics of Mirrored. A play of ascending/descending symmetry, a frozen yet lightning fast, lithe dynamic. Play In first, play Out first – the duplications and transitions are brilliant – this is a musical moebius strip, a lucid conceptual and musical victory in an album that is altogether too simply complex.

Annuals: Brother – a softly picked guitar and wafting strings emerge languidly from cicada chirps, and you have spring all there in one minute. Then things escalate into swelling, urgent strings, a spaceship powers up and bang! At 1:50min, amazing martial drums and guitar fuzz, lyrics shouted – this is cathartic, anthemic indie at it’s best. What a transition, so emotive – a song that manages to be both soft and touching and so powerfully overwhelming too. The dynamics of this track are astounding, in how it somehow makes three and a half minutes feel as long as a symphony. If only something after this amazing intro came close to matching its power, then Be He Me may have scaled great heights.

Sian Alice Group – I have no idea where they came from or what they’re doing, but this band (multi-instrumentalists Rupert Clervaux, Ben Crook and vocalist Sian Ahern) made some of the most beautiful songs of 2007. Contours especially is an amazing track – its slow, circular ascent which breaks into a luminous middle section of snapping drums and gaping, ethereal vocals, submerging once again into electronic fuzz. Transcendent.

Britney Spears – it wasn’t only the fascinatingly poor ‘comeback’ performance staged for her at the VMAs (things revealing themselves there if ever), or the again depressingly candid video for Gimme More (in which pre bikey stripper vixen Britney sits at a bar and literally laughs at what she has become up on stage), or the fact that Gimme More registers some of the most unbridled and disturbing neediness for (insatiable) sex and celebrity as one and the same (fucking a microphone?), but that all of this sort of stuff and much, much more was discussed throughout the blogging community with such aplomb. Britney Spears ’07, of course, is one such moment in which the zeitgeist just seems to bare its very constitution to us all, and the reaction to and critique of this moment was brilliant to read.

Against Me!, The Corner, 16 June – the conduit between crowd and performer is an interstice in which new possibilities for musical relations can reveal themselves. If ever a better kind of collaboration ethic between the two groups existed than tonight, I certainly haven’t seen it. After suffering through so many gigs in which the Melbourne crowd were infuriatingly and quintessentially aloof and just ‘not into it’ (the YACHT / Architecture in Helsinki over18’s show at Cloud City being the prime example), it was wonderful to know and experience such honesty and solidarity between crowd and band.

Sodastream splitting up – it took me a long time to actually come up with an answer to the question ‘who is your favourite band?’, and then, almost as soon as I realised that it was indeed Sodastream, they decide to disband. Such is musical life. Never mind, their final show at the East Brunswick Club on March 2 was a sweet farewell, a wave of melancholy and hope carried across a transfixed audience.

‘It’s up to you’ – the distribution model pioneered by Radiohead for the release of their seventh album, In Rainbows, is interesting mostly for what it says about the state of media. This remassification of supposedly individualistic channels is possibly a new hope for a splintered and hostile music community.

Friend’s bands – when I really got depressed about the whole ‘state of music’, so fast-paced and unrewarding at times, I just thought about the music that I love most – my friend’s bands. When I go to some ratty house gig or 2AM slot at a local venue and watch my friends play in their bands, singing to their songs with the rest of my mates and marveling at their undiscovered talent, I re-realise my connection with music.

Honourable Mentions – Great Albums of 2007

Before the top records, a word on the albums that I found truly great this year, but which for whatever reason missed out on making my outright ‘best of 2007’, personal classics list.

Klaxons – Myths Of The Near Future
This album belongs here not only for how it sounds (surprisingly good) but also for what the Klaxons did with it. They are the ultimate pop pranksters, descendants of Malcolm McLaren and the KLF, a band who managed to feed back to the media their own bullshit (creating a near-perfect loop between hype and band), invent their own genre as a joke (new rave), and having everyone expecting them to actually drop a rave record when instead they clearly released a glimmering pop(ular) masterpiece.

Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Golden, coastal echo-pop. Most of it cast in a hazy cloud, like it’s playing from the water of your swimming pool that just went Technicolor. Its nostalgic, domestic feel gives it an irrepressible charm, although the overwhelming critical praise it has garnered is probably a little over the top.

Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
I know comparing an album to another (even if by the same band) is not really a way of describing properly how the record in consideration is somehow lacking, but for me Strawberry Jam leaves me longing for the ‘feels’ of Feels, the more organic, oakey, communal vibe of their previous release. The sense of glorious ritual and songwriting that met on Feels is only a pale remainder here, instead Animal Collective opt for fullon experimental scribbles so that much of this music really just sounds like a lot of buzzing noises. But, and it’s a big but – this is still great stuff, capable of eliciting powerful, if somewhat jilted, feelings.

Panther – Secret Lawns / Dan Deacon – Spiderman Of The Rings / YACHT – I Believe In You, Your Magic is Real
It’s not that each doesn’t deserve its own heading, but I have grouped these three together because of what the reveal in each other when considered as a trio. All three are one-man ‘lap-pop’, electrified indie groups, they also seem to share a sensibility towards music (that making it, playing it and listening to it should be a fun thing) and a sugary, hungry sound attitude of regurgitated pop tropes and mish-mashed punk and bubblegum. And yet they manifest their talents in different ways – Secret Lawns is a properly brief excursion into shattering pop, all crooning and messed-with synth lines over confused drum patterns, whereas Spiderman performs its deconstructions by stretching things out, twiddling the frequency knob up and down so that noises snake in and out of eachother, adding in laughing bag samples and chipmunk voices (its patronizing, but I really don’t care). YACHT takes a path somewhere down the middle in that his songs usually clock in around 4 or 5 minutes, and musically his vibes are on well-constructed hooks – be they beats, claps or synths – which are then ridden through to their exhaustion within each song. I have no idea what Panther is singing about, I think Dan is singing about being in an indie fairytale, and YACHT is definitly singing about good luck and optimism. All of them are making me dance and smile.

Kings of Leon – Because Of The Times
There is a maturity and pathos to the Kings of Leon’s music that their lyrics are still yet to match. Or is it that this sense of expression in their guitars and drums is actually a form of nostalgia or yearning on the band’s part to return to where they never actually left but really will never be again – youth and young manhood. What are the times exactly? Well for one, they are times in which the countrified steez of their earlier work even further gives out to well-written epicness that doesn’t lose its sense of direction or purpose. Mainly because they seem to have such an intuitive understanding of song dynamics, when to push/pull, fill/suck, draw out/cease and so on, so that listening to them is always satisfying. Listen to how Knocked Up sort of runs out of itself, left only with a kind of desperate ‘woah oh oh’ after each once-victorious line (“people call us renegades”, “we like taking on this town”). Running forwards and backwards into the shadows, Kings of Leon’s (d)evolution is a fascinating thing to hear.

Liars – Liars
Only a band like Liars could actually surprise their listeners on their fourth album by making something that sounds like normal, stomping rock – but then, of course, it’s done by Liars, so in its own secret way it’s also quite fucked up and searing. Plaster Casts of Everything fucking explodes, driven along incessant by drum and guitar, with an amazing coda, it’s a wonder it manages to stop itself. Along with this intro, every other song on here works on a template of holding a certain sound across its entirety, all of them being percussive – but then, what isn’t percussion with Liars? Although it lacks the thematic cohesion and singular aesthetic of Drums Not Dead and it’s probably their first album that is just ‘good’ (not great), that’s still amazing by Liars’ standards.

Six Organs of Admittance – Shelter From The Ash
Floats along like cinders on a dark and stormy wind, moving in and out of the flames across its eight tremulous, guitar-driven tracks. Mining a force elemental, the guitar work on here (in which acoustic and electric don’t so much antagonise as they enmesh) is kept in the fire by a furious yet strangely sublimated energy. Piercing lyrics and craggy atmospherics, leaving one in a somber yet fulfilled mood. This is virtuoso guitar-playing at its most involving and organic.

Parts & Labor - Mapmaker
Spazmodica, epic noise, artcore, cheesy (post)rock – how the fuck do you classify this? Spectacular. That’s how. It’s cathartic, fluttering – everything aims for the sky and hits it, from the horns on Fractured Skies to the munching guitar-synth that builds up Ghosts Will Burn. This is contagious, ebullient junkyard rock. Hyperactive, kinetic drumming, epic carnie vocals, punk rock keys, melodic guitars, ADD tempos – a sense of victory snatched from the jaws of noise. Gearshifting song dynamics and endearing fuzz; chord progressions to rival even The Boss. The sheer virtuosity of this band: they’re fucking playing these instruments! “We’ve got to take down to build it up again” Dan Friel barks on Vision of Repair, and that’s what Parts & Labor do, throwing fuel on the fire of their industrial sounds until they corrode and rebuild into a glorious, flaming wreck.

Amiina – Kurr
Very delicate and unassuming, and yet somehow deeply affecting – Kurr is a captivating work from the band who once made up Sigur Rós’ string quartet. Put this on in the background and you’ll barely realise what it’s doing, but listen closer and you begin to appreciate the graceful attention to musical tone and expression pervading these compositions. So whilst it may initially sound quite uniform – plinky, glassy instruments played atop soft, hazy tones – the album’s intricacy gradually reveals itself, and you come to realise why the band can be seen knitting out a long garmet on the cover. This is Amiina: subtly weaving tiny layers of texture and instrumentation into a nuanced yet surprisingly warm sound.

Deerhunter – Cryptograms
I spent a lot of time trying to explain to a friend this album’s awesomeness – how, like, it’s like two albums in one or something! Well yeah, in reality, this concept isn’t that amazing, really Deerhunter have just gotten all dichotomous – the first half a deep, long sigh through shoegazing guitar textures and hypnotic drumming, and the second a more ‘structured’ reconciliation of these elements into sparkly, shorter ‘songs’. But then of course the transfer between these two halves is itself interesting, as each informs and dialogues with the other, creating a more unified and whole event of an album that is a joy to play through in its entirety. And that itself is a rare thing in the digital music landscape.

Explosions in the Sky – All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
Another brilliant record that marries a sense of concept and composition with a spellbinding and triumphant execution, this is a smoldering, smokey album of great prettinesss – “the skyline was beautiful on fire, all twisted metal stretching upwards” – both earthy and ethereal. Explosions in the Sky delight in taking the carefully studied frameworks of their songs and then catapulting them skyward until they explode like dark fireworks. Along with this, the album carries a wonderful sense of narrative, slowly building on a kind of journey that suggestions exodus, loss and then finally acceptance.

Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
Slyly uplifting, deceptively upbeat – lush pastures of music hide a dark lyrical soil, but in the end this really doesn’t matter. Music vs. lyrics – it’s a perennial question, but when the sounds are as effusively circuitous and catchy as they are on here, I certainly know which one I’m paying attention to. Nevertheless, The Shepherd’s Dog always threatens to musically articulate its dystopic lyrics, flailing and tripping through moments such as when Sam Beam’s voice is unexpectedly pushed through a grill on Carousel.

Handsome Furs – Plague Park
Music that sounds like bones – gritty songs with the flesh ripped off them. Like a stripped back, programmed Wolf Parade at certain points, but still possessive of its very own aesthetic (and that’s the great thing about the extended Wolf Parade family – Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes, and so on – they share a kind of grammar of songwriting but all are still unique). The lyrical conceit here is brilliantly matched to the music’s texture, terminating synthesisers and sad ‘lalala’s, scrappy drum machines and “hearts of iron”. This is a thematically and consistently brilliant set of songs – one of the year’s underrated best.

Burial – Untrue
Although it has only sat with me briefly (and thus I’m still unsure whether it should go into the below list, maybe) this album pulled me into it quite quickly anyway. I know that it’s the orthodox thing to say about Untrue, but it really is quite haunting, not in a tacky emotive way either, but in the sense of really feeling like a specter passed through your headphones or something. Skittering along, scratched and warped – this music actually bends me. It’s frightening, but I like it.

Radiohead – In Rainbows
What a relief, finally a Radiohead album where pronouncements like “a career-defining classic” or “a revolutionary change” really don’t need to be made. Instead, what a relief it is to pay what you will for what is quite simply just a fucking great album. It’s their first truly open album, and for Radiohead, that is an important move in their music – for all their affect, previous albums were impenetrable, a kind of paradoxical moving and deflection always defined them. In Rainbows, by contrast, is the warmest, most inviting record they’ve ever made – there’s even a sample of children saying ‘yay’ on it! It’s also joyfully schematic, despite the fact they laboured over this for years (some songs having a gestation from around OK Computer, even) – it sounds like they just popped it out, and that’s a good thing.

Tunng – Good Arrows
The thing that intrigues me most about Good Arrows is its ambivalence – it’s a music that takes you to a space inbetween its puzzling yet overwhelmingly logical arrangements, in the middle of its effusive, hyper-inclusive (yet still measured) musical palette and it’s lyrical cosmos of secrets and loss/love. I could go on for paragraphs describing these moments when this thing pops up, and I’d like to quote a lyric or two but I really can’t – it’s all too good. Just listen to it, you’ll find a way into its cryptic, domicile housing.

The Top 4 Albums of 2007 – Personal Classics

I really thought quite hard about this – which albums will I look back on as the true highlights of 2007? That will stay with me (either for the memory of what they gave me when first listening to them, or because I will continue to listen to them) more or less for good? Because, like I said at the beginning of this post, we write only to ourselves – for all the attempts at intellectual distance towards music, at the end of the year all I can think about is the music that has touched me. These are those four albums; my favourite is last.

Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals

Post-Animal Collective, indie anthropology, the music of the children of Aquarius - call it what you like, Yeasayer's debut album is simply amazing. Mining a deep mystical and ritual sensibility that now seems prevalent in indie, this album trips and bounces through a globe of sounds yet never looses its footing, making it an endearing and amazingly likeable fusion of indie and Other. And it’s not just this eclecticism that makes All Hours Cymbals so inviting, its just this sense of magic – it’s so sweetly made and choral. The early clicky clacky, drum-driven tracks are the most instantly gripping, but the more 60s hippy vibes and classic rock moments that swirl through the later tracks are just as great. No other album has taken me as immediately as this, and yet I’m still finding things in it now. This is music as communication, as ritual – both communal and patterned – listen to the ‘yea yeah’ moment on 2080 and try and not love this. And the final thing? The glorious simplicity that shines through, especially in the percussion – it’s music that I feel I could almost play … or at least clap along to.

Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Even though I spilled a lot of type over trashing K.Barnes a little while ago, I still think this album is definitly one of the best for 2007, for lots of reasons. Its genius is in its blend of giddy, sugary pop tropes (cheesy synths, handclaps, quivering falsetto, absolutely schizophrenic dynamics) and an amazing lyrical document and studied composition. I know that seems weird – an album full of this many seemingly throwaway disco and synth-pop cuts being a truly poetic and worthwhile work? But that’s the thing – underneaths and surfaces here are no longer binaries but one and the same – an epidermal detailing of the fucked up craziness of breaking up. Why write bleedingly ‘authentic’ acoustic guitar numbers when you can create one of the most truly cathartic (for the author as much as the listener) and danceable breakup concept records ever? Singing about heart-tearing experiences with a palpable sense of (wicked) joy – a fey irreverence to the respected conventions of breakup music. And this is a radical desublimation – there is something utterly respectful about being so fucking candid (rather than shading darkness and anger in stifled metaphor and muffled man voices). Just like pop, you know this is wrong (“want to pay some other girl to just walk up to her and hit her”), but for that very fact it is stripped of all ideology.

And this is a record! It might embrace a bubblegum aesthetic but never structure – it is the most cohesive ‘album as artistic statement’ this year. And the fact that it hangs so well together, and that almost every track on here is worthy of single status and yet inseparable from its whole (just hear those fucking amazing transitions (try Gronladic Edit into A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger) that both hold each song completely intact and yet seam them irreducible) is what makes it one of the year’s best.

Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover

I confess I have quite a lot of trouble really describing, or even understanding, how it is that Sunset Rubdown’s music makes me feel like I do when listening to it. So often I only end up throwing down a few sentences attempting to describe the music and then leave it at that. I’m not sure how far I’ll get here, but I’ll start by saying what it sounds like: it’s altogether more bluster, claustrophobic (every song pushes into the next), urgent, and simply fast-paced than it’s predecessor, Shut Up I Am Dreaming – which was happy to let things sit around in middle-light, syncopating along. Not so with Random Spirit Lover – though it contains the same inventive stitching, unexpected imagery and surrealistic moments that are Krug’s trademarks, its music is a violent and enveloping carnival. And how do I feel? I’m not sure how to say it, but it’s sort of like seeing yourself in a hall of mirrors and somehow all the reflections making one. Things come to light in the strangest of places – sense is made through snakes and ladders.

"Will you live in the physical world?
And though explosions make debris

And catching it kind of suits you

It doesn’t suit me

She said: My sails are flapping in the wind

I said: Can I use that in a song?

She said: I mean, “The end begins”

I said: I know, can I use that too?

Will you live in the physical world?

With the sun setting low and the shadows unfurled

Can you live with the way they make you look unreal?"

Menomena – Friend And Foe

Polyphonic – an explosion of music, bursting with ideas and moments – everything is in here somewhere. Look at this band’s recording technique and you start to understand their modus operandi – they use a specially programmed instrument called the Deeler (or Digital Looping Recorder), which, once a tempo is set, allows the band to sit around and literally take turns in adding as much as they possibly can to one song, piling sound and effect into puzzling and yet somehow machinic unity. As such, each song eats up as many sounds as you care to mention – drum patterns diverting and re-coalescing, horns and pops and keyboards, guitar riffs brought up and then pushed down again, every member’s vocals. And yet I’m guessing that with all this talk of schizophrenic inclusion I’ve made Menomena sound like a hyperactive noise band – here’s the crux, they aren’t. Instead, they completely crash the seemingly opposite poles of experiment and structure – this album is THE deconstruction of balance/imbalance, one/many, individual/group, abstraction/lucidity, friend and foe.

It’s to approach songwriting as an antagonistic process of coming together, and though the songs bear sinewy traces of the three members pushing them in completely different directions, they never once lose a sense of martial cohesion and simple fucking catchiness. Diversity marshaled into an encompassing virtuosity and sense of fun, never distracted or off-kilter at any moment. Because you can turn this on and after one listen instantly enjoy what Friend and Foe offers, and yet you can also continue to find new sounds buried deep in the tracks for months after listening – and it has been months. Friend and Foe was released quite early this year, and it’s easily stood up to the rest of it. And yet still considering the sheer amount of stuff that’s going on in here, nothing ever gets lost or peters out – it all hits with force, Menomena know how to reach for absolutely devastating choruses and refrains.

And yet this joyous experimentalism in sound is itself again opposed in the lyrics – because even though at times Friend and Foe sounds like one great big kaleidoscopic joke, there lies an exacting melancholy underneath these songs – lines like “oh to be a machine, to be wanted, to be useful” or the dichotomous stitching of the phrase/track Airaid (air aid or air raid?) register something a lot deeper than superfluous trickery. How to reconcile these extremes? It can’t be described here, but Friend and Foe itself manages to do just that – “You write ‘Born to Kill’ on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What's that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?” The lucid and sometimes crushing knowledge of the “duality of man” is all over this album, so that it is always never just your friend, but always too your foe.
To combine the contradictions of craft and substance is probably the ultimate victory of Friend and Foe, but the fact that is does so using its very own aesthetic, even recording technique, is what makes this album simply singular. There might be touchstones lying around to compare this band’s sound to, but in all Friend and Foe has a truly unique mood, timbre and sound, which I could at best sum up as: invigorating.

This is a record I know that I will continue to return years after writing this, always trying to work out just how it was made, just what it might mean – and not even for that sort of vaguely intellectual curiosity, as if it were a puzzle to be solved, because to a degree its contradictions are so proliferate that they may never settle. But mostly I will be here again just to experience these sounds, and the amazing feeling they give me.