Peabody – The New Violence

04. Peabody – The New Violence

The highest charting album on this list. Easily the heaviest album I liked in any capacity. Rock music is in terrible shape. As a genre it has absolutely nothing to say. Even up until the early 90s, rock expressed the furious anger of the marginalised. In the last few years of international torment, rock music has completely let us down with protest music. Rock music is a cartoon of itself. It’s like someone took the most vibrant, energetic and rebellious form of self expression, and trapped it in a jar. It looks kind of the same through the glass, but it generates no heat.

And after that long ramble, we come to Peabody’s the New Violence. Full of anger, accusation, fire, heart, feeling, meaning and all those things that would never occur to a band like the Killers. Witness Wrecking Ball, which climaxes with the scream “My generation is decline!”. I have a lot to say about this shithole of a country that I live in, but I won’t do it here. But Peabody helps me focus my angry energies.

It’s not all preachy. But it’s all uncompromising. But some of it is pure ear candy. First single Got You On My Radar is perfect pop, just turned up really loud. I Don’t Know, the most mellow moment moment on the album, is sweet and affecting. But it’s the rockers that really make the album take flight.

It’s hard to say who Peabody sound like nowadays. There’s definitely a jaggedness to their music, but also hardcore element (especially on Don’t Lose It, all one and a half minutes of it) and some truly strange things (Got Your Hooks In sounds like New Order with balls – perhaps Primal Scream then). Of all the albums on this list, I’m finding it hardest to describe and compare Peabody’s music.

But forget it all. From opener Synaesthesia, this album grabs you by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t let go. This album, and the next three, arte pretty much interchangeable for number one, depending on my mood. Thank god that it has only made number four today.

05. The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers

Inspired by Tim Byron (www.livejournal.com/users/o_song), I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

05. The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
Heavenly


So fully formed for a debut. Two sets of siblings, singing in such sweet voices. Oh and the love. Can’t forget the love.

The Magic Numbers was played a lot when I was working at JB Hi Fi. And it was perfect, because in a way it is so bloody middle of the road. Witness the similarity between I See You, You See Me and Don’t Know Much, the soppy but great power ballad performed by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.

It’s of course, very pop. Very Belle And Sebastian. It’s full of energy, full of spirit, and most importantly, it is the album most this year that fits into my theory that love songs are the first songs you love. As I get older, and slowly the treble, the cheap rhymes, the simple themes are being weeded out for more ‘mature’ music, the Magic Numbers completely make me feel like I’m 17, or maybe even 12.

Let’s look at the evidence in the song titles – Love Me Like You, Love’s A Game, This Love… how long has it been since a band was willing to be so overtly sweet? And that’s how they get across…simply, and sweetly. “She don’t love me like you”, “Darling when I see you, you see me”, “Don’t let the sun be the one to change you, baby”… all nothing lines that can mean everything when you are even feeling the slightest bit emotional, which I often am.

The album doesn’t cover a lot of ground. I’m afraid it will date quite poorly. There are upbeat pop stuff, and some really, really, no, really slow stuff. But that’s not the point. This is one long aching love letter. It’s an audio snapshot of the out of control emotions you feel at 17, when you’re falling out of love every week, and in love every hour. And that part of you is still in there, and will love this album.

I don’t know what else to say about this album. The production, performance, instrumentation, harmonies etc…are all top notch. But it’s the mood and feel of this album that makes it what it is. It also supports another theory, that a song is not finished until it’s heard. The Magic Numbers hit you in the gut or not at all. You can’t take apart the chords and see how it works. You just have to let love in.

06. Supergrass – Road To Rouen

Inspired by Tim Byron (www.livejournal.com/users/o_song), I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

06. Supergrass – Road To Rouen
Parlophone

Listening to this album again, after many months of background listening that proceeded some fairly intense getting to know eachother stuff, it’s hard to see why this is such a big departure. Touted as an acoustic departure, or in some circles, a goodbye to commercial relevance and the catching of a train to adult contemporary land. But all the classic Supergrass elements are here, just in slightly different measures.

Bob Dylan has said Nashville Skyline is sho short because that’s all the songs he had. I wonder if this is the same for Road To Rouen. Under 36 minutes, one instrumental, it seems a bit lacking. Luckily every note of the album is well conceived. You can’t really count on over 30 minutes of greatness anymore, even over albums that go for 80 minutes.

There are the funky prog moments (set out years ago by tracks like Moving), given very prog rock names like Tales Of Endurance Parts 4, 5 &6. There is dreamy ballad pop (much like Mama & Papa) in something like Fin. Even the title track is close to a home ground stomper for the lads. So what’s the big deal?

There is a looseness to the album that’s new. Supergrass albums are usually frenetic affairs, built on nervous energy. That’s gone. This is a mature, thoughtful work. It’s also the most simply beautiful Supergrass album ever. Written and made in a time of great personal difficulty, the album is bare but inviting. Yes there are lots of acoustic guitars, and it the soft grooves and beautiful pianos that take you away. Witness the mix of sounds on Low C, or the single St Petersburg. It’s interesting to hear well constructed acoustic music, without it being twee, country, or Nickelback.

Highlights are abound, but I think I might have mentioned them. Like I said, the album’s short. It does it’s job, then it lets you go. Much like Chutes Too Narrow, every track is great, and the fact there are so very few of them just serves to show that even more.