Here’s another set of essential 2010 albums unfortunately left by the wayside. Witness their excellence.
- Mark Van Hoen – Where Is The Truth
Beauty. Just, pure fragile beauty. Floating like a spiderweb made of static, hung with fragments of shattered dreampop. Van Hoen, who started out in Seefeel and ferried the shoegaze & idm Locust through the next decade, knows a thing or two about prismatic blissouts. Being unfamiliar with his past solo work, I won’t remark on how this is a more personal statement or not; I will simply say that, as a *huge* fan of Seefeel, a longtime admirer of Locust (especially Truth Is Born of Arguments – an essential document), and an eternal seeker of alluring disintegration, this album hits the spot.
- Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In
Being taken in by the line that their name is inspired by a certain Tarkovsky film and the fact that they employed old school synths in a more pop-friendly framework than Oneohtrix Point Never or Emeralds, I nevertheless held this one at arm’s length upon first listen. The tones grabbed me, the melodies held me, the sheer variety kept my attention from wandering, but I was stopping short of truly absorbing it. Second go-round, I realized it’s not made to dissect the individual tracks or feel around for a signature invention, something groundbreaking to hang its hat on. This album is one to sit back (or walk or ride or whatever) and take in all at once. Much like Teebs’ utopian fever dream Ardour, this 50 minute excursion is built carefully out of vignettes highlighting different facets of the sound until a wholly rounded picture is formed by the end. I can hear Blade Runner and The Neverending Story and even the Terminator at times, but I can also sense the instructive warmth of Boards of Canada, fellow Scots with a penchant for playfully distracted, unpretentious psych explorations. Where else would we find songs titled Head Supernova, Primary Colours at the Back of my Mind, and Neon Colony?
- Girls – Broken Dreams Club EP
Well this one snuck up on me. I was never a fan of the debut LP, which swam in a torrent of praise in 2009. Some songs caught my ear but the band simply didn’t hit those pleasure centers I need to truly enjoy an album. Playing this lengthy EP on a blizzard bound morning while making pancakes turned out to be a shining revelation, and an arresting listen. Moving beyond their Velvet Underground, jangly garage sound into the realm of earnest, intelligent, well written pop infused with more than a little grit and gravitas, the band has officially released one of a literal handful of rock albums which I can admire, adore, and really sink my teeth into. Biggest highlights are the title track, a stoned lament for the fractured state of our world today, and Caroline – a tune which steps out of any boundaries the band previously ruled, into pure psychedelic wanderlust. It reveals itself slowly (at first echoing The Smashing Pumpkins‘ deep album cut Porcelina of the Vast Oceans), unwinding like a scarf caught on a fence, until it’s stretched to the point of abstraction and hanging in the air around you. A cloud of a hazy rock dream, tugging upward. A great way to end an album and point to an even brighter future for this duo.