Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 in Review: Best Albums


Coldplay delivered the year's only classic album, but there were other good works. Here is my list of the best albums of 2005. Click below to see comments and track highlights for some of the albums.

1. Coldplay - X&Y
2. Rachel Stevens - Come and Get It
3. Madonna - Confessions on a Dancefloor
4. James Blunt - Back to Bedlam
5. Will Young - Keep On
6. Natalie Imbruglia - Counting Down The Days
7. Goldfrapp - Supernature
8. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
9. Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
10. Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV
11. KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
12. Girls Aloud - Chemistry
13. White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
14. Robbie Williams - Intensive Care
15. Supergrass - Road to Rouen
16. Sugababes - Taller in More Ways
17. Feeder - Pushing The Senses
18. Mariah Carey - The Emancipation of Mimi
19. Athlete - Tourist
20. Gorillaz - Demon Days
21. David Gray - Life in Slow Motion
22. Charlotte Church - Tissues and Issues
23. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake It's Morning
24. Annie - Anniemal
25. Arcade Fire - Funeral

Overrated: Sufjan Stevens - Come On Feel the Illinoise!

1. Coldplay - X&Y
The year's best (and only album I would rate a 5/5). Coldplay continued to show growth, incorporating a broader range of sounds and showing better songwriting depth. Chris Martin never sounded better, as do the rest of the band, which proved themselves as indispensible. Standout tracks: Talk, Speed of Sound, Fix You, White Shadows, Square One, The Hardest Part, Swallowed In The Sea, Kingdom Come.

2. Rachel Stevens - Come and Get It
The year's best pop album came from an unlikely source--a former member of S Club 7 whose first album failed to atract much attention. Truth be told, neither did this album, but it should have. Each song crackles with pop delight and retro and contemporary influences are both diverse and ranging. Standout tracks: Secret Garden, Nothing Good About This Goodbye, So Good, I Said Never Again (But Here We Are), Negotiate With Love, Funny How.

3. Madonna - Confessions on a Dancefloor
After the disappointing American Life, the greatest living pop star returned to deliver a knockout. Dance music has always been Madonna's bread and butter, and here she delivers a truly delectable meal of "modern disco." Standout tracks: Get Together, Jump, Hung Up, Sorry, Push, How High, Like it or Not.

4. James Blunt - Back to Bedlam
James Blunt is the UK's biggest new artist this year, and his album brims with potential. The album consists of beautiful love songs, contemplative ballads, and upbeat adult pop permeated with joy and sadness, even the pain of war (he served in the British forces). He's been called the next David Gray; let's hope he can live up to it. Standout tracks: You're Beautiful, Goodbye My Lover, High, Tears & Rain, Cry, Wisemen.

5. Will Young - Keep On
The former Pop Idol (he'll never live it down) returned this year with his third album, which turned out to be just as good as his smash Friday's Child, showing his willingness to continue exploring both new musical and thematic territory, even his sexuality, if only tentatively. Standout tracks: Keep On, All Time Love, Switch it On, Aint Such a Bad Place to Be, Who Am I, Happiness, Home.

6. Natalie Imbruglia - Counting Down the Days
She'll always be known for her supersmash "Torn," but this was a good attempt to craft something equally memorable. It may be a guilty pleasure, but this is expertly crafted adult pop with instant radio potential. Standout tracks: Shiver, Starting Today, Satisfied, Sanctuary, Perfectly.

7. Goldfrapp - Supernature
Alison Goldfrapp's third album is musically similar to her second, Black Cherry, and that's a good thing. Here she delivers another round of pop-friendly electro and downbeat, spiked with disco. Standout tracks: Ooh La La, Ride a White Horse, You Never Know, Fly Me Away, Number One, Slide In.

8. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have it So Much Better
Bands that deliver wildly successful debut albums often have a hard time following it (cue The Strokes). Franz Ferdinand managed it spectacularly though, with this disc, which manages to maintain the fun and energy of their first album while delving into a more mature sound too. Standout tracks: Do You Want To, Walk Away, Eleanor Put Your Boots On, The Fallen, This Boy, What You Meant.

9. Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
Wildly successful debuts, Kaiser Chiefs is this year's Franz Ferdinand, and Employment delivers an a great set of fun '80s influenced indie rock, not unlike the Killers. Standout tracks: I Predict a Riot, Modern Way, Everday I Love You Less and Less, Na Na Na Na Naa, You Can Have It All, Born to Be a Dancer.

10. Hard-Fi - Stars of CCTV
Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, and Hard-Fi. The retro/indie sound wsas all over 2005 and never wore out its welcome. Hard-Fi's debut is tight, fun, and even a little bit dark. Standout tracks: Cash Machine, Hard to Beat, Tied Up Too Tight, Unnecessary Trouble, Move on Now, Feltham is Singing Out.

11. KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope
Taking over for Sarah McLachlan and kicking it up a notch, Tunstall is sure to break big into the U.S. market next year when this is released in the spring. It's a fine slice of chick folk/rock. Best tracks: Suddenly I see, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, Another Place to Fall, Under The Weather, Miniature Disasters.

12 Girls Aloud - Chemistry
How much fun can one girl pop group possibly have? Certainly no more than these five have on this album--a frothy modern blend of pop spiced with experimental electronic production. Best tracks: Models, Biology, Wild Horses, Watch Me Go, Whole Lotta History, Swining London Town.

13. White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
Not much different than Elephant, but more experimental in places. Who cares when it sounds this good. Best tracks: Blue Orchid, The Denial Twist.

14. Robbie Williams - Intensive Care
The verdict on Robbie Williams without songwriting partner Guy Chambers: smooth sailing. Robbie continues to tantalize us with his swagger, confounding lyrics, and sexuality. Standout tracks: Tripping, Advertising Space, Spread Your Wings, Make Me Pure

15. Supergrass - Road to Rouen
Former punkish Britpop outfit goes mature, with mostly positive results. Standout tracks: St. Petersburg, Tales of Endurance, Sad Girl, Low C.

16. Sugababes - Taller in More Ways
Mixed bag, but when it works it works really well. Very sad they lost Mutya this year, her voice was perhaps their strongest. Standout tracks: Push the Button, Ugly, Gotta Be You, Joy Division, Red Dress.

17. Feeder - Pushing the Senses
Fomer indie Britpop outfit goes Coldplay, with fans up in arms, but higher charting singles. Standout track: "Tumble and Fall."

18. Mariah Carey - The Emancipation of Mimi
After three duds, Mariah Carey (bless her for keep trying) finally made another decent album. Her voice isn't quite a spry (she's never hitting those "Vision of Love" notes again), but she still sounds great, and all the better for having endured a public meltdown and coming back strong with a pop/R&B album that effectively embraces both modern and classic sounds. Best tracks: We Belong Together, Say Somethin', Mine Again, Shake it Off, Don't Forget About Us.

19. Athlete - Tourist
Former indie Britpop outfit goes Coldplay, with fans up in arms, but higher charting singles. Do we see the musical trend of the year yet? Standout tracks: Wires, Twenty Four Hours, Chances, Half Light, Trading Air.

20. Gorillaz - Demon Days
It took me awhile to embrace this, but I came around to Damon Albarn's pop/indie/hip-hop album that vastly surpasses his first attempt at this. Standout tracks: Feel Good Inc, Dare, Last Living Souls, Dirty Harry.

21. David Gray - Life in Slow Motion
Expertlly crafted adult pop, sounds more upbeat than it should, but good. Standout track: "The One I Love"

22. Charlotte Church - Tissues and Issues
Former angelic child classical prodigy picks up cigarette and burns a hole in her wing. Tabloid photos ensue as does vampy pop makeover. Fun, but should be better. Standout track: "Crazy Chick."

6 comments:

Chris B. said...

Let the record show that I purchased two of these albums for ADH this Christmas. Ho ho ho.

Andrew E said...

I want the record to show that today isn't even the 31st! What kind of blog is this?

Robin said...

I totslly agree with you about Sufjan Stevens. It's like the Emperor's new clothes- everyone just wants to jump on the hype bandwagon, but no one will admit that it's boring.

Um, where is BLOC PARTY? How could that not make your list????? That is insane.

Believe it or not, I am really liking James Blunt.

I guess you didn't think too much of the new album from the Darkness.

ww_adh said...

I didn't get Bloc Party or the Darkness (also didn't get LCD Soundsystem, Oasis, or The Eels, which all interest me). I know you raved about Bloc Party.

Chris B. said...

Also: Surfjam Stevens is not that hot.

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