Part One, Two and Three.
15. The Horrors – Skying
The Horrors made the remarkable transition from record collector punks who knew all the right moves, but couldn’t master the steps, to genuine bone fide indie superstars in the blink of an eye. Primary Colours turned an NME fuelled farce into one of the best bands in the country, but it was Skying that cemented their status as artists on the edge of something truly remarkable. The Horrors had gone from penning skeletal underdeveloped ditties to sprawling, crushingly dense, onslaughts of strangely dance-able noise. Skying was hypnotic, powerful and addictive all at once, a rare feat.
14. Warpaint – The Fool
The Fool by Warpaint murkily sauntered onto the scene. Blending alluringly slight melodies with thick, chunky, instrumentals proved a perfect recipe for mood altering pop music. Warpaint strode dangerous territory, their moody, seductive, guitar work tip-toed on the border line between dynamic pop and directionless jamming. Warpaint were keen for their listeners to lose themselves in the nuance of their arrangements and The Fool is a delightful skip down the rabbit hole – the record is coy enough to dwell and resonate, but never meander.
13. Klaxons – Myths Of The Near Future
Nu-Rave, the Emporer’s Nu-Clothes, it all rather fizzled out. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, the scene was largely fictionalized; bands who didn’t have rave roots where lumped into a flourishing craze because, well, they had a keyboard, and keys are ravey, right? So why did this mania even come to pass? The Klaxons and Myths Of The Near Future provide the answer, there was one band, with a bundle of potential and one crystalline idea. Whether anyone else shared their vision hardly mattered, they created positive momentum, they gave indie a second wind and, most importantly of all, they made great pop music. When it’s all stripped away, when the mania becomes a fad, what we’re left with are eleven really rather excellent tracks.
12. Blink-182 (Eponymous)
Blink-182 fans all across the world have, at one point or another, been confronted with the accusation that their favourite band is a juvenile and lightweight entity (to put it politely). Until the year 2003 this was a hard criticism to argue with, the band wilfully celebrated inanity and often undermined their most poignant moments with silly gag songs that didn’t bear a second listen. Then, in 2003, they delivered their eponymous record. Blink-182 had hit the reset button on their entire career; this was catchy, youthful, music, but it was also weighty, moody and adult. It felt like a new beginning. Phase two of their career was set to ensue. They would, could, age (somewhat) gracefully. In reality it was the beginning of the end for the trio, who quickly disbanded, but for one album at least, Blink were perfect (or as close to it as they ever could be).
11. Vampire Weekend – Contra
Vampire Weekend were destined to fade and die. We’d seen it before of course. A new band arrives on the scene with a perfectly realised debut album; it says everything the band could hope to say and more, it conveys a quirky aesthetic, comes loaded with sharply written pop songs and, naturally enough, proves impossible to either replicate or follow. Well that was half right. Vampire Weekend could not and did not replicate their debut album, but they didn’t fade away – they exploded. They blew their confinements to smithereens. Their horizons broadened in every imaginable direction and, brilliantly, impossibly, they retained those glorious pop hooks and sneakily detailed peculiarities. Contra was bigger, bolder and better than Vampire Weekend’s eponymous debut – it pointed towards newer, greener, pastures and stated, loudly and proudly, that this band would not be confined by predetermined expectations or aesthetics.