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2010 in review: Music

Mac Hendrickson | Tuesday, December 7, 2010

‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ Kanye West

Released on Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

To be honest, no one really expected this album to be bad. With West’s impeccable record as an album maker, rumors of a Pete Rock collaboration and early previews of the material, the worst sort of expectation was the sort Ice Cube could only dream of. But no one expected it to be this good. Engineered to perfection, “Fantasy” danced the fine line between innovation and mastery. And with innumerable rave reviews, “Fantasy” defined “critical darling” for the new decade. With his VMA performance, countless public appearances and the GOOD Friday release series, “Fantasy” felt more like a three-month event than a one-day release. Destined to be a classic, “Fantasy” leaves critics wondering if anyone will match it before the decade draws to a close.

‘Halcyon Digest’ Deerhunter

Released on 4AD

Indie bands rarely make albums like “Halcyon Digest.” There is no external caveat. No prior knowledge needed. The magnificence is self-contained. If one hasn’t heard any of Deerhunter’s material, “Halcyon Digest” is a great place to begin. The songs move from one to another like dreams in a night of tossing and turning. Bradford Cox’s lyrics are little memories and details of his life, devoid of anything too thematically crippling or distracting. Cox has certainly mastered the art of capturing a peculiar feeling, and this album is a perfect demonstration.

‘King of the Beach’ Wavves

Released on Fat Possum Records

If you don’t know who Wavves is or haven’t heard this album, don’t get any wild expectations. It’s exactly what you think it is: A Cali skater singing punk songs about summer. Nothing here defies gravity. But nobody ever said predictability was a negative. Nathan Williams sounds like a low-fi Blink-182 appealing to a much narrower audience. From the opening title track, “Beach” captures the California summer spirit with danceable three-chord anthems. He also addresses the elephant in the room: his stage stunt from 2009 that painted him as a brat. It’s personal, it’s punk and it sounds awesome.

‘The Suburbs’ Arcade Fire

Released on Merge Records

Arcade Fire isn’t always as interesting as the band is emotional. With Win Butler’s propensity for taking things too seriously, Arcade Fire’s third album had the potential to be a perfected and dynamic bore. Early listens and interviews about its “concept” kept the fear alive. Though the album dragged on far too long, the result was a cohesive glance at Springsteen-esque angst in the modern age. Each song had the drive and inspiration of “Keep the Car Running” with the emotional depth of “Rebellion (Lies).” Perhaps for their fourth album, Arcade Fire fans can relax now that Butler and Company have proven they know what they are doing.

‘Crazy for You’ Best Coast

Released on Mexican Summer

From the cover of her first album as Best Coast, it’s no surprise that Bethany Cosentino enjoys the beach aesthetic. So, the way the record sounded was anything but a surprise. But that success at capturing the Cali feel was just what made the record work so well. With little 2-minute ditties about something she did last week or some thought she had while sitting and watching game show re-runs, “Crazy For You” is the type of album girls like Cosentino were born to make. The melodies are catchy, and the stories are casually cinematic. Don’t be surprised if you find parallels to Nathan Williams’ music. They have been dating since last year.