Compelling Albums of 2011
Here are a few that stood out to me in the review of albums that came out in 2011.
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
Nobody knew much about The Weeknd when House of Balloons was released in early 2011 – but after the buzz and hype of the mystery of the artist died, it was discovered that House of Balloons was the work of Toronto-based artist Abel Tesfaye.
Interpreted as a testament to heartache as imagined through the eyes of a playboy drowning in drugs (not literally), Tesfaye’s tenor is part R&B, part soul part “druggy atmospherics” – this album is quite an ingenious mix of genre.
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
The turbulent creative journey to write (or perhaps, re-write) Helplessness Blues is reflected in the darker, more uncertain mood and lyrics.
There is still the bright indie-rock vibe that Fleet Foxes has become known for, but there is a new tension in the album that is new – but it is a tension that has allowed for the growth and expression of the artists. The self-reflective, analytical and inquisitive nature of the tracks of the album did not, for me, dip into the territory of self-indulgence.
And if you decide not to take a listen to the lyrics, the beat and the musicality of the tracks is sure to keep you smiling.
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
The third solo album of Annie Clark is being heralded as her best yet. Weird and beguiling this album touches on the history of 60′s brit-rock and practically crowns Clark as the queen of intelligent alt-rock.
This is another album, like, Helplessness Blues, where the melody and the lyrics don’t quite match – the album may sound catchy and upbeat, but listen to the lyrics and you’ll find that it is full of doubt, insecurities, and heartbreak.
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
People hadn’t really heard of Kurt Vile until 2011, and 2011 could be called the year of indie folk. And the year of indie folk found their anti-hero in Kurt Vile.
Compared to Bob Seger, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan the self titled “epic folk” artist has cleaned up his act in this album. Previous work, though praised as steps in the right direction for this throwback artist, weren’t seen as his ultimate achievements. Smoke Ring For My Halo is polished and intelligible conversation with an artist who knows exactly what he is saying to both himself and the audience.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
The 10th studio album of artist PJ Harvey is rooted in an engagement with the world and the times that is evident throughout. Considered her most complete album to date, Let England Shake is a meditation on the current global-political situation – a record “tailor-made for times of recokoning” according to nme.com.
If you missed these albums, it might be quite worth it to take a listen, and if you have heard them, what are your thoughts?
Jade Evans is a freelance writer who works in an industry she loves, but has to take a break sometime. Occasionally that means getting tickets to Roger Waters or her favorite band that is playing locally; everyone needs to decompress.