Top 50 Canadian Albums Of The Decade, 9-5
9. A.C. Newman – The Slow Wonder
A.C. Newman, the de-facto leader of The New Pornographers, did not make his best album with the band, but on his own. The Slow Wonder is a meticulously composed work that benefits from a singular vision from Newman. The songs feel only somewhat smaller than Newman’s band work, but their arrangements are still intricate and detailed. The songs seem in a way more heartfelt, though Newman does appear to still be writing based on word sounds, it’d be hard to argue that there’s no emotion whatsoever powering the knockout hook extravangaza that is “On The Table” or the lethargic “Come Crash”.
8. Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew – Spirit If…
I don’t know if anyone realizes it yet, but Spirit If… is kind of a messy masterpiece. It’s a large, long, varied work that bridges a number of styles and genres and yet seems held together by the romanticism manifest in the person of Kevin Drew. It’s got pop songs (“Safety Bricks”), rock songs (“Backed Out On The…”), anthems (“Lucky Ones”), electro experiments (“Frightening Lives”, “Big Love”), lo-fi folk (“When It Begins”) and all kinds of other styles are explored or touched on as well. Not to mention Kevin Drew has his whole crew of BSSers backing him up throughout. If the next decade becomes some kind of musical golden age, it will be populated with albums like this – diverse, unbound works of authentic emotion characterized by a big big love of human expression.
7. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
When Neon Bible came out, everyone seemed to be saying the same thing about it: “yeah, it’s good, but not as good as Funeral.” A couple months later, a lot of people were heard saying something like, “you know what, it’s kind of growing on me, now I’m not so sure.” Well, it seems most of us still prefer Funeral just a bit more, but I think we can all agree that Neon Bible is no slouch. Actually, I’m kind of more into the dark vibe they’ve got going on here. Songs like “Keep The Car Running” and its version of “No Cars Go” are stunning anthems, and “The Well And The Lighthouse” and “Intervention” are terrifying reflections of a world in a devastating turmoil that perhaps it will never escape. Still, even in the darkest times, Arcade Fire, like Barack Obama, have the audacity to hope for better things.
6. Final Fantasy – He Poos Clouds
Absolutely brilliant, and even more so because Owen Pallett could often reproduce it onstage with simply a loop pedal and a violin. The well deserving recipient of the first Polaris Prize, He Poos Clouds is a brilliantly arranged, gorgeously orchestrated and superbly written work of indie-pop. Truly it shouldn’t fit that designation but even with all its classical and experimental leanings, the songs were still catchy as hell and strangely accessible. A huge accomplishment by nearly any standard, it also includes songs about video games and “The Lamb Sells Condos” has that great line, “And his massive genitals refused to cooperate.”
5. Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
Somebody must have been slipping Spencer Krug acid while he was writing this album. Oh wait – change that to ‘more acid than usual’. No wait – change that to ‘more acid than is lethal to the human mind’. Random Spirit Lover was that insane. Unlike previous Sunset Rubdown albums, this time they were a legit band. And what a band! They tear it up like they’re desperately playing for every breath of air, and still they sound like they’re having the time of their lives. Songs like “The Mending Of The Gown” and “Winged/Wicked Things” mixed weirdness, madness and beauty into a single proggy entity. Listening to this album is a trip in itself. Are you experienced? If not, then you might want to get on that.