My favourite albums of 2010

March 14th, 2011

I have had three albums on heavy rotation since purchasing them last year: Bang goes the Knighthood by The Divine Comedy, Write about love by Belle and Sebastian and The Final Frontier by Iron Maiden.

All three demonstrate the kind of song writing craftsmanship that few other bands can achieve this far into their career. In the case of Iron Maiden, fourteen studio albums in, the band members all now in their 50s, there is no sign of them reaching for their pipe and slippers. I’ve been a fan of Maiden since I was just a boy. People told me I’d grow out of them but it’s yet to happen! I guess I’ve grown with them. Their musical style has evolved over the years into less metal, more prog-rock epics. Still, the likes of The alchemist demonstrate that they can still knock out short, galloping numbers they used to. For me, the highlights of their latest album are Isle of Avalon, Coming home and The talisman.

Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy), who always seemed a little old for his years, is now writing some of his most melodic and diverse material. It’s been a long time since he last had a hit single. Not that this seems to bother him. In fact, being out of the spotlight is probably far more suitable. He now entertains crowds in intimate settings via his one-man show allowing for plenty of room for spontaneous renditions from his back catalogue accompanied by his trademark self-depreciating wit. Hearing the new tracks live was a real treat. It’s hard to pick out any stand out tracks as they are all really strong but if I had to choose I’d probably say that When a man cries and Down in the street below were a cut above the rest.

Belle and Sebastian take much longer gaps between delivering fresh material these days. Yet when it finally appears you really get the impression that they have slaved over every last nuance and detail. I’m quite happy for their latest long player to loop over and over as there’s always some little flourish that i’ll have missed on previous hearings. The melodies are so catchy and the sequencing of the entire album from track to track is perfect. Stand out tracks are I want the world to stop with its northern soul feel, Calculating bimbo which has a really nice warming sound to it; and the title track itself which could have been on last year’s side project, God help the girl.

In 2011 I’m anticipating the latest long player from Elbow and hoping that we’ll see some new material from the Super Furry Animals.

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