Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best albums of 2011

5 Dead Letter Chorus – Yearlings
This was released back in August in the depths of the Australian winter, not that the depths are really that deep (even down at 37°47' S), which is strange because it is one of the sunniest, happiest albums I have heard in a while.

Opening with a delicate acoustic guitar and intertwined male and female vocals Covered by Snow quickly builds into a pounding joyous plea to a potential lover, fading back to almost nothing before winding it all up again. It's the well worn Nirvana quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic, but channeled through this wonderful backing it sounds fresh all over again. Both vocalists – Cameron Potts and Gabrielle Huber – are equally strong and I love the contrast their different voices bring to these songs, sometimes working together other times taking turns.

In Yellow House they share the vocal equally and it is stunning the way various words and phrases bring out one or the other. The acoustic guitars are high in the mix and there is beautifully straightforward electric guitar run in the background that burrows deep into your conscience and has you humming along for hours. Either that or pressing the back button to play it again. Three minutes thirteen seconds of perfection.

There are ups and downs in this set of songs, it would be a bit too sacharine if there wasn't, but their blend of delicate, catchy indie-pop is overwhelmingly upbeat and affirming. There are tinges of folk around the edges and this gives the songs a slightly out of time feel – they don't feel entirely rooted in this second decade of the twenty first century. Not escapist or a retreat from the world of 2011, but a welcome respite from some of its more draining complications.

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