Five Disappointing 2010 Albums (So Far)

Overall, 2010 has been an amazing year in the world of music.  My year-end list is swamped, and we’re not even into fall yet, where the majority of hyped and acclaimed releases are dropped.  But alas, like every hit-filled year, there are some misses.  I’ve listened to a lot of albums in 2010, and I’ve heard some fascinating work, some boring duds, and a few completely atrocious, “what were they thinking?” moments.  Sometimes we know what we’re getting into, but it hurts the worst when a highly-anticipated album does not impress.  Here are a few examples of albums from groups that failed to deliver this time around.

MGMT – Congratulations

After the surprise success that was Oracular Spectacular, MGMT decided to guarantee themselves a sophomore slump by experimenting with psychedelia, post-rock sounds, and jam-band noodling.  Anyone who heard the hit debut knows this to be a baffling departure from the electro-pop goodness that made these boys so damn popular.  Trying a weirder approach the second time around wouldn’t be such a bad decision (it’s been done before with sharp results – see Pablo Honey vs. The Bends) if the music was actually memorable.  We know the guys have songwriting chops – we heard it in crossover hits like “Electric Feel” and “Kids” – but it sounds like this time around MGMT wanted to woo us with form rather than content.  And it came out pretty bland.

Wolf Parade – Expo 86

Speaking of bland, Spencer Krug and the crew created what can only be described as the definition of a record-label obligation.  While Apologies to the Queen Mary is an indie classic from the past decade and At Mount Zoomer had moments of brilliance, Expo 86 contains no passion, no hooks, and no decisive direction.  This album feels like a few guys doing the same old routine with no great ideas this go-around.  Wolf Parade needs some serious time off from each other so the creative juices can start flowing again.

MIA – MAYA

I tried really hard to like this album, but, as I’ve stated before in more detail, it’s just not there.  While Wolf Parade’s disc feels forced and bored, MIA gives off the trying-too-hard vibe – over-production litters the album, and memorable songs, unfortunately, do not.

Black Keys – Brothers

I’m sure I’ll be getting some heat for this one, but the Akron boys have disappointed me twice in a row now.  Strange Times was nowhere near a home-run, and while Brothers is a better, more back-to-basics approach, it sounds like they forgot how to do it.  The first half is all choice cuts, and would make a stellar EP – meanwhile the latter half drags into an over-long, samey collage of what would make an interesting compilation of outtakes and B-sides.

Best Coast – Crazy For You

I suppose the Internet has the ability to hype up a band and their debut album probably quicker and louder than ever before, so when the end result isn’t as great as expected, it’s a pretty big, over-hyped letdown.  As far as albums from 2010 go, Crazy For You might be the most divisive – my friends’ opinions are split down the middle between  “terrible” and “can’t stop listening to it OMG.”  And while I’ll admit that there are some gems on this disc, the overall listen is somewhat grating.  All of the group’s 2009 singles showed promise, but I suppose this didn’t translate well to an LP for me.  Chalk it up to the leftover filler tracks, the simple, occasionally trite lyrics, or the realization that Bethany Cosentino has a significantly limited vocal range, but I think I’ll just stick to the highlights.  Gotta love that album cover, though.  Snacks the Cat has my heart.

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5 Responses to “Five Disappointing 2010 Albums (So Far)”

  • Laura Says:

    Wow, I must admit seeing one of my favorite albums of the year as the #5 loser was a SHOCK! I think you tweeted that didn’t feel this album so much since you weren’t romantically involved with somebody, but I have to say, no matter how trite or simplistic the lyrics are they speak volumes to me. I think Bethany Cosentino has addressed some really huge problems in the way we deal with each other these days, and her trite lyrics perfectly reflect our trite actions.

    I agree that she is limited vocally when it comes to vocal range (might be all the pot) but I’ve gotta say, I have found myself so intrigued by her style and country slides. I actually practice emulating them even though I am more of a classical choral kind of girl.

    This album got me through so much this summer and I have listened to it over and over and over and still love it. Also — I hate to point to gender — but maybe it’s just an album for chicks.

  • Laura Says:

    Also: Snacks is cool, but he is no Eddie.

  • Ben Williams Says:

    I think it’s definitely a chick album, I’ll give you that. But you’ve pointed out a lot here that I never really thought about. I suppose I’ll give it another listen – once I get past the lyrics, which were off-putting for me, perhaps I’ll enjoy the disc more. I do enjoy her country-laden tracks, really has a She and Him/Jenny Lewis feel to it. And of course I like the louder tracks as well. It’s by no means a bad album, I was just overall disappointed with it. But a lot of people really love it, so I will keep listening.

    And yes, Eddie tops Snacks forever. No question.

  • Laura Says:

    Maybe you should also spark up a bowl before. Bethany would want it that way.

  • kimmy g. Says:

    black keys and best coast…. huh. I guess we really will never agree. What’s on your best list? Arcade Fire? I know you too well, Mr. Williams. TOOOOO well!!!

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