The Neighbourhood - I Love You

#30 – The Neighbourhood – I Love You.

(Columbia)

While perusing through countless reviews of The Neighbourhood’s I Love You., more times than not they would feature negative words in a ‘wanting’ context.  Many were chock-full of words describing what the album should sound like mixed with assumptions of what the band was aiming to do with the album.  Why look at an album for what it is rather for what it isn’t?

It is often dark and gloomy pop rock that’s heavy with eerie guitars, reverb, and background distortion.  On top of that, lyrically, it doesn’t give you much to smile about.  The title of the album functions as juxtaposition to what’s really inside. Emotionally-charged lyrics like “it hurts but I won’t fight you / you suck anyway”, “we all grew up / shit got tough” and an overall angst-y tone throughout create a relatable theme to a large group of potential listeners.

I know what you’re thinking, why would you want to listen to a seemingly depressing album?  The magic of the release is that although it has a dark feel to it, after a complete pass through the album, you actually feel pretty good. The consistently strong instrumentation and lack of vocal ‘whining’ (often paired with lyrics like this) create a great stress relieving album.

Now, there’s a case to be made that the debut album is carried by the standout single “Sweater Weather”, and there’s no doubt that’s the best track on the disc, but throughout the album there are glimpses of greatness and at the end of the day, what more could you ask for from a debut album? -Quinn

Mikal Cronin - MCII

#29 – Mikal Cronin – MCII

(Merge)

Mikal Cronin may have released the most universally relatable album of the year. You’d be hard pressed to find a person that doesn’t relate as he jumpstarts the album with one of its most memorable lines, “I’ve been starting over for such a long time.” And, if not “Weight” than surely some other song on the album speaks to you.

Furthermore, Cronin achieves such a goal while delving into a considerably less hazy sound than his debut and by doing so he’s ended up penning perfectly guiltless power-pop. He avoids clichés and finds a style familiar to and welcomed by most while managing to not come across as stale. Is it the year’s most daring release? Certainly not. But, you’ll have a hard time not falling in love with it at first listen and the joy won’t diminish with each listen thereafter. -Rondeau

Other accolades: #2 on Paste, #17 on Consequence of Sound, #18 on Spin

Cage the Elephant - Melophobia

#28 – Cage The Elephant – Melophobia

(RCA Records)

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

#27 – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

(Vagrant Records)

Mayer Hawthorne - Where Does This Door Go

#26 – Mayer Hawthorne – Where Does This Door Go

(Republic Records)

 ← #31-35 | #21-25 →