Genre: Indie Rock/Folk // Released: 2018
There’s a case for any Hop Along album to be placed here, but Bark Your Head Off, Dog stands out as their most accessible and most innovative work. It saw them shift from releasing superior versions of the records every other indie band was churning out to making the record those bands *wished* they could. Bark… is equal parts coffee shop and arthouse, full of adventurous songwriting that sees the band eager to expand their sonic palette. It packs punchy hooks, but for every “Somewhere a Judge” there’s a “Look of Love.” Frances Quinlan is unafraid to meander here, yet she’s a mature enough writer that these parts are considerable assets. The best cuts combine both: “The Fox In Motion” and “Prior Things” are indie wet dreams, sophisticated arrangements supporting freeform vocal tour-de-forces. In a few years we may look at this as the album that ruined Hop Along; if that’s the case, they’ll have taken a sizable chunk of the hipsterverse with them. – Johnny
Genre: Ambient/Blues/Country // Released: 2014
While Devin Townsend temporarily abandoned gonzo theatrical progressive metal for the sparse and spacious Casualties of Cool, his attention to sonic detail and willingness to fearlessly experiment made it a veritable classic and career highwater mark. Casualties of Cool finds Not-Always-Heavy Devy taking outlaw country on a spaceship ride to the dark side of the moon and bringing it home irrevocably changed and imbued with supernatural powers gained from exposure to cosmic radiation en route. He lets his navigator/co-pilot on this trip, Ché Aimee Dorval, guide the ship every so often while they take turns contemplating the stars and ruminating on life, love, and death. The journey is in turns exhilarating, ominous, meditative, sorrowful, and joyous, punctuated by interludes that resemble everything from the settling of a haunted house on the deserted prairie of a distant planet, to the rattle and hum of an inertial spacecraft floating gracefully through the galaxy with its engines off and lights turned down low. It’s a transcendent experience if there ever was one. – SitarHero
Genre: Hip-Hop // Released: 2016
If XXX hinted at the post-punk roots of Danny Brown’s music then Atrocity Exhibition is a full deep dive in. Constructed, at parts, as the sonic equivalent of jumping down a spiral staircase headfirst – whereby in the place of steps, each flow forms loosely together to construct a poetic whole. Where a manic crash of drums, skewed punk interpolation and pure creativity mesh as one through one of the all-time legendary production performances by Paul White. Excuse the dodgy analogy, but hyperbolic it is not. Building upon a concept crafted over his previous two albums, Atrocity Exhibition is a story of drug-dependency. One which perfectly captures both the euphoria of the high, and the crashing lows which come with it. It’s a form of venting, not often seen in hip hop and never quite this well. It’s not all doom and gloom though as with Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown has dropped an album that will live long beyond the artist – something he has wished for from the start. – Pheromone
Genre: Progressive Metalcore // Released: 2012
It makes sense that BTBAM took a semi-drastic stylistic turn on 2014’s Coma Ecliptic; the band probably felt that there was no way for them to further hone and improve their idiosyncratic brand of progressive metal after 2012’s The Parallax II: Future Sequence, and they were probably right.
Parallax II marks the conclusion of the surreal sci-fi story the band began with The Great Misdirect’s “Swim to the Moon” and continued on The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues. But, even if picking apart the lyrics to try and follow the somewhat highfalutin and opaque plot isn’t really your thing, the music more than makes up for it. Parallax II may not be full of surprises to anyone who has listened to anything by BTBAM since 2007, but the band have never sounded more fluid and confident than they do here, and they display some real synergy between storytelling and composition. While their ability to write a rousing epic like “Silent Flight Parliament” is nothing new, their ability to play things like the hilarious surf-rock sections on “Bloom”—featuring vocalist Tommy Rogers growling lyrics like “Bebop skippity tippity tap those toes”—and have them make perfect sense in the context of the song and the overall story is positively refreshing. – SitarHero
Genre: Drone/Ambient // Released: 2018
Hausswolff’s latest offering summons a beast far more terrifying than her predecessors. While there were always monsters creeping in the shadows of her discography, here they take charge in this full-on horror offering. As entrenched in atmosphere as it is, Dead Magic is built more on rage than dread, and it lashes out in biblical proportions. The mechanical build of “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra” gives way to a climax of haunted organs and bloodcurdling vocals that range from desperation to resentment. Followed by the gargantuan “Ugly and Vengeful” (a one-two punch for the ages), Hausswolff cries out as an unstoppable force of chaos, her recent emphasis on drone and ambient music showing its colors as it delves into some of the most chilling passages I’ve ever heard. The palpable change in tone just between these two songs is enough to prove it: Hausswolff is the monster of this story. And we want her to win. – Neek
Genre: Indie Folk // Released: 2014
A loves B. A and B break up. A still loves B. A becomes obsessed with Damien Rice’s My Favourite Faded Fantasy. This is a tale as old as time (or at least as old as 2014). While it’s easy—maybe even desirable—to shoehorn this album into the “breakup album” genre, the record prospers in the fact that it’s much more than that. Many breakup albums bask in one-sided musings of anger, despair, or hope; instead, Rice uses his massive post-folk soundscapes to deliver kaleidoscopic statements on incredibly personal issues and emotions, delivering them with such clarity that it can’t help click with woeful individuals. While the titular opening track is a callback to the base emotions of grief and frustration, each song onward is a step on the path towards healing, each anchored in such understanding (“It Takes a Lot to Know a Man”), guilt (“The Greatest Bastard”), and overall self-awareness that the album can’t help but like a conversation between himself and his spited lover. Therefore, this album is perfect for those trapped in between the cracks of a relationship—in knowing that love is still there, but it just isn’t enough anymore. Through all its beauty and pain, My Favourite Faded Fantasy is not a cure for love-sickness. But it does serve as a promise of the light at the end of the tunnel when all you can see is the darkness of the hole in your heart. – Neek
Genre: Metal/Psychedelic // Released: 2015
As the new decade began to unfold, a peculiar fraternity of monks playing Sabbath worship doom metal led by a satanic panda version of the Pope took the stage in Germany’s Hammer of Doom festival for the very first time. It was October of 2010, soon after the release of their first album, “Opus Eponymous”, by independent label Rise Above Records. Their popularity since then has skyrocketed with dizzying numbers in both sales and shows played globally, showing how the Swedes have gone from obscure metalheads cosplaying home-tailored robes to a full-on theatrical spectacle, filling stadiums with the likes of Metallica and Iron Maiden.
Meliora was the third album conceived by the now unmasked mastermind Tobias Forge, along with the original line-up of Nameless Ghouls, before the well known fallout and following lawsuits that threatened to rip apart the project. It is also considered the peak of their career, and it certainly has the tracks to prove it. Songs like “He is” and the Grammy-awarded “Cirice” were pivotal for the band’s unstoppable momentum, balancing their early spooky doom influences from bands like Candlemass with Forge’s insatiable thirst of becoming the definitive anthem rock act of the decade. The result is not only one the best rock and metal albums of the ‘10s, but also one of the most entertaining and impressive live shows in music history. – Dewinged
Genre: Noise Rock/Post Rock/Experimental // Released: 2016
In an effort to Pavlov myself into enjoying The Glowing Man more than I do, I caught Gira and the boiz live underneath a church in Glasgow during the album’s tour. That particular show was marred by a soundsystem that refused to ascend to the heights that “The Glowing Man” demanded, bringing the performance to a prompt, unsatisfactory end. Although it wasn’t the band’s fault, this seemed fitting to me as a metaphor for the album’s shortcomings when placed beside its overachieving siblings.
Swans’ third foray into the two-hours-of-guitars-and-yelling format that defined their last decade is their least offensive release in that timeframe. Strangely enough, the resulting journey- defined by a sort of perpetual reaching for, but never quite grabbing, enlightenment- also ends up being the most obnoxious of the trilogy for its comparative lack of range. But hey, two people on Sputnik loved it enough to chuck a bunch of points at it, so here we are. – MiloRuggles
Genre: Technical Death Metal // Released: 2010
If there was ever an album that displayed atmosphere in black metal during the decade, chances are it came from Deathspell Omega but wall of chaos runs parallel to atmosphere of rampart monolithism, all the while shuffling tempos and musical ideas that disperse like smoke into cool air only to form into solid, unyielding masses. At times, the complex nature of Deathspell’s guitar riffs and underlying melodies wind into blast beats and potent vocals. And yet these specifications seem the basis for any successful black metal band. Paracletus however, stands above the norms of what defines the genre and adds its own progressive experimentations—as well as other unorthodox patterns. Deathspell Omega are unique within themselves, without detaching from what makes Paracletus a marvellous release in a dime-a-dozen world. – Nocte
Genre: Electronic/Pop // Released: 2018
Oil isn’t exactly a challenging listen, but it’s a strange one. It opens with a soft comfort in “It’s Okay To Cry” and quickly swaps to the crunchy BDSM-championing “Ponyboy” and is immediately followed up with “Faceshopping,” discordant synths and all. After these few singles, it quickly launches into a suite of seemingly loosely connected tracks that really form the biggest movement of the project, a path through slow ambience, hopeful ballads and pop bops. The thread connecting all this is, of course, a message of help and love for those who are suffering, particularly the trans community. While I think certain people would enjoy this regardless of this message, that’s what really ties it together for the rest of us. The lyrics imply an adaptation of self, a sex-positive path to potential happiness, an exploration of a new world. She has created this album with a casual level of empathy that is simply unparalleled, allowing anyone to feel the love not just even with but especially because of all the oddities it’s brimming with. Just try it, all you need is a little faith. – granite
Genre: Post Black Metal // Released: 2016
With a career filled with gazing depths and uplifting crescendo, it’s little wonder that Alcest would be featured somewhere in this “Best Of” consensus. Despite the album’s glowing praise, its beginnings are outlined in Alcest’s career laid out before it. Where Shelter defied the ‘more’ metal harshness that contrasts with their ethereal post rock atmospheres, Kodama took the opulent black metal aesthetics of Écailles de Lune and wrapped it around the softer moments of Shelter. This brought Alcest to a whole new level, combining abstract thought and lush tones into some of the genre’s more defining moments. Kodama evolved naturally, while remaining true to the dark atmospheres and somewhat hopeful welding of soundscapes. Kodama is powerful, emotive and yet, pushes at the boundaries of a genre within its own inescapable formula. – Nocte
Genre: Progressive Blackened Death Metal // Released: 2012
Honestly, on my first play back of Ne Obliviscaris’ Portal of I in some years I had forgotten just why I loved this album so much. It wasn’t until “And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope” that I remembered exactly how driven this band is and the fact that this album is their debut made the feat all the more impressive. Put simply, Portal of I is a massive undertaking and its parts only ‘lock’ into place where and when it’s supposed to. Ne Obliviscaris’ debut is a diverse, progressive and technical flirtation of metal’s scope of genres, incorporating some of the decade’s most cohesive levels of experimentation within the metal genre at the time while engaging with everything a metal fan could possibly enjoy in a single sitting.
So even as I sit here, able to re-ignite my love for this record I wonder what other albums I’ve given similar treatment. More importantly, would they have the same replay value as the Portal of I? – Nocte
Genre: Indie/Lo-Fi // Released: 2016
I remember when I finally worked up the courage to show my dad the entirety of this album on our drive back to drop me off to college. I had just tried my first psychedelic and it almost seemed too obvious to play a song like ‘(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School)…’ despite him probably being oblivious to such a hidden fact of my life. He even laughed a little at the absurdity of the lyrics: “Last Friday I took acid and mushrooms / I did not transcend I felt like a walking piece of shit” despite not fully knowing how that truly felt on Lucy. There’s something undeniably appealing about the way Will Toledo tells his stumbling stories, backed by prophetic sounding vocals and rip-roaring guitars slightly reminiscent of any punk leaning band from the past. With this being said and knowing my own dad, of course he was most drawn to ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ despite the rest of the album being arguably as entrancing, eventually singing along with me to the ending chorus as we saw the “gateway to the west” through the wet and splashed windshield. There’s power in good storytellers, and despite the difference in age, music taste, drug use, backgrounds and perspectives on how the lyrics impacted my dad and myself, we still to this day listen to Teens of Denial, forming a never-ending story of our own with the music. – Con
Genre: Post Hardcore/Post Rock // Released: 2011
In 2009, O’Brother made tiny waves with their second EP, The Death of Day. This attention moved the band into a position to take their brand of indie & post rock and post-hardcore on the road, cutting their teeth opening for big players of the scene like Thrice and fellow Atlantans, Manchester Orchestra. These experiences eventually led to a collaboration with Andy Hull, as he took to the boards (and even the mic (Sputnik what up!?)) for their debut LP, Garden Window in 2011. The result is a more droning, exhausting effort- yet it is littered throughout with hooks and ear worms pouring out of frontman Tanner Merritt, whose unorthodox delivery and wild range give the album a distinct character more memorable than their previous work. Sure, The Death of Day was O’Brother’s first steps forward but Garden Window was their coming out party and a leap into a fruitful decade of creation. – dbizzles
Genre: Hip-Hop/Electronic // Released: 2010
When this came out, in 2010, psychedelic music at large was not on this level yet. There was nothing quite like it. Ten years later (exactly, as of this writing), there’s tons of it. Flying Lotus produced for the most important rap album of the decade, his label has promoted many important artists, all of which have some sort of connections to his signature sound, and off-beat hip-hop that made its first real splash with Los Angeles just one year earlier is now everywhere. What makes this unique, even now with the hundreds of copycats, was the way it formed an exploratory, cohesive album before the genre was even fully conceived. Cosmogramma is full of a nervous, pushy energy, a barely controlled chaos, just balanced enough to keep it from exploding. The many who were inspired by this could never compare when there’s hundreds of new ideas with every listen. Nobody could have seen it coming, and even if it dropped today, it’d still be legendary. – granite
Genre: Post Hardcore // Released: 2010
For a band as consistent as Circa Survive it’s a big accolade for any album of theirs to stand above the rest, but none set that bar higher than Blue Sky Noise. The band is more locked in than ever as they weave together tight and dynamic instrumentals that perfectly mirror Anthony Green’s powerhouse of a performance. Green’s incredible variety and conviction shine through as he consistently delivers massive hook after hook, which the band masterfully complements with layers of shimmering and screeching guitars and a rhythm section that constantly finds ways to fill the space in ways that make each track hit that much harder (ex: that huge bass slide into the chorus of “Glass Arrows”). This is enhanced by an enormous production job that spectacularly balances all these moving parts to cut through clearly. Blue Sky Noise shows Circa Survive in top form, creating a career-defining album that stands tall among the best of the decade. – onionbubs
Genre: Post Punk/Post Hardcore // Released: 2018
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to catch IDLES live and gaze upon Joe Talbot’s sweaty mug, adorned with an ever-so-slightly maniacal grin as he proceeds to calmly scream his fucking lungs out, then you’ll probably have an inkling as to why him and his merry bunch have received the recognition and adoration that they have as of late. Dancing like no one is watching as they wail away at battered instruments: the lads radiate a sincerity and energy that is as infectious as it is refreshing. Such is their charm and charisma that their well-trodden message of (self-)respect and empathy lands like a goddamn sledgehammer. Mangled guitar licks and mildly nonsensical musings are channelled into one of the most incomprehensibly inspiring records of the last decade, which, coming from the band that released ‘Brutalism’, is remarkable.
Whilst I could go on, I won’t, for IDLES’ sophomore LP says more than enough on its own. It’s the little engine that could, and will, kick your teeth in if you’re not careful; a rallying battle cry against unearned and self-destructive self-hatred; an urgent celebration of our collective proclivity to fail, fall and get back up again; and a timely F.U. to nihilism, donned in pink and beaming with glee. Simply put, it’s joy as an act of resistance. – Asleep
Genre: Alternative/Americana // Released: 2017
If you’re one of the few brave souls to have engaged with my writing over the last few years (to whom I would like to say ‘thank you’, and also ‘sorry’), then you’ll probably be aware of my inability to communicate in anything but overdramatic generalisations and adjective-laden walls of grammatically-flawed text, inevitably drowning my questionable opinions with unnecessary adverbs and vague metaphors in what can only be described as an absurdly obvious and unashamedly needy attempt to sound profound and/or learned and/or funny and/or important and/or cool. Melodrama and verbosity are all I have, unfortunately. What was I to do then, when confronted with After the Party: a no-nonsense collection of catchy, heartfelt punk rock, expertly pulled together by one of the most beloved names in the genre? There’s no ridiculous, theatrical narrative I could reach for, nor any eccentric or pseudo-intellectual remarks to be made. It’s just really hecking good shit. That’s it. That’s all I have to say. – Asleep
Genre: Metalcore/Math Rock // Released: 2013
The Dillinger Escape Plan made their name on mind-bending technicality to the point that they have almost become synonymous with it, so it’s strange that, on One of Us Is the Killer, the technicality almost takes a back seat. Oh, it’s definitely there, in spades even, but it’s not the point of the album. Rather than focusing all their energy on the insane time signatures and hairpin meter shifts, those elements serve as points of contrast to give the more conventional passages–the explosive breakdowns of “When I Lost My Bet” and “Hero of the Soviet Union,” the melodic choruses of “Nothing’s Funny” and “Paranoia Shields”–that much more impact. In this context, the technical passages are the tension to be resolved–to use a music theory metaphor, they’re the penultimate, dissonant chord before the final, consonant one. And the band demonstrates that they don’t even need to use technicality to serve this purpose. Consider the title track, in which a muted whisper of a verse resolves into an anthemic chorus. It’s one of the most accessible tracks they’ve ever recorded, yet it’s also one of their strongest, and it makes sense that it’s the song from which the album derives its title. One of Us Is the Killer is a loud, assertive declaration of a truth that Dillinger fans long knew, but that mathcore skeptics found difficult to grasp: The Dillinger Escape Plan are more than just impressive instrumentalists; they’re great songwriters. – hesperus
Genre: Post Hardcore // Released: 2011
The 2010’s weren’t all that kind to post-hardcore bands from the previous decades. Whether it was lackluster reunions from ATDI and Glassjaw, The Used mercilessly refusing to break up, or Thrice slowly morphing into Nickelback with all the lyrical tact of an Anti-Flag song, the old guard wasn’t all that well represented. Enter Thursday. While there’s a tinge of the bittersweet, Geoff Rickley and co. bowed out with the finest work of their storied career; No Devolucion is a fearless emotional unburdening and an innovative and singular release of sonic mastery. Darkly majestic post-punk with menacing atmosphere and thick sonic depth? ‘A Darker Forest’ and ‘Past and Future Ruins’ have you covered. Starry alt-rock with skyscraper choruses and sharp production details? ‘Sparks Against The Sun’ and ‘Magnets Caught in a Metal Heart’ contain possibly the best sing-along choruses of their career, balancing pop savvy with a gritty anthemic drive. Looking for the Thursday of old? No Devolucion does you one better, updating their classic sound to thrilling effect; ‘Turnpike Divides’ has a stunning and breathless chorus that plummets dismally into a pool of gnarled screams and seismic riffs, while ‘A Gun in the First Act’ uses prominent horns as a backbone to accentuate gigantic drums and serrated walls of guitar noise. Thursday took every chance to swing for the fences here, and every damn song knocked it out of the park. If you told me that the band behind Full Collapse could create a song as sophisticated, suffocating and deeply haunting as ‘Empty Glass’? Well, I’d probably believe you actually, but it doesn’t make the achievement any less impressive. That the band’s final and best album ends with the very best song they ever wrote, the immensely moving and post-rock-esque ‘Stay True’? Just icing on the cake. To borrow a similar sentiment from IsItLuck’s Coloring Book review, by stretching the limits of their genre, Thursday transcended it, leaving us a curtain call of epic proportions and endless rewards. Not all good things can last forever, but on rare occasions, the ending isn’t so bad after all. – Slex
Genre: Folk/Americana // Released: 2013
I grew up in a town of six hundred people in the rural Midwest. Up the road from me, there was a sign that read “IMPEACH OBAMA SAVE AMERICA”. On either side of it were two signs that proclaimed this a “Proud Union Home”. I hated growing up there, actively voicing my displeasure with what I interpreted as backwards social tendencies and people refusing change. I can’t help but cringe when I think of the sixteen year old me who thought he had rural America figured out and thought it was beyond all hope, with absolutely no redeeming qualities. That teenage me also hated country music and probably thought he was brilliant for raging against modern capitalism that was bro-country, exploiting a fake small-town experience for a profit. I had no idea at the time how far I had completely removed myself from the realities of the Rust Belt.
Southeastern showed me those realities I missed. It also showed me the side of country music I never knew. Isbell crafted a masterpiece filled with stories of extraordinary lives, all while still being the stories of ordinary people. Southeastern revealed to me the side of my hometown that I chose to never see, the side that isn’t of people who are too stuck in their ways to change, but of people who changed so much before life beat them down. At my current stage in life, I still can’t relate to much of Southeastern personally, although each listen has a new lyric that resonates. It was certainly a small influence on my decision to leave my current city to return to the small-town life that I never thought I could miss, yet somehow do. Quite the accomplishment for a record by a newly sober man who had a guitar, a wife who is a brilliant fiddle player, and a few stories to tell. – Mathias
Genre: Noise Rock/Post Punk // Released: 2010
Even after several years of listening, I’m still floored by Women’s Public Strain. From the opening drawl of feedback and noise in “Can’t You See,” to the somber and solemn “Penal Colony,” to the jolting and urgent “China Steps,” to the cathartic closer “Eyesore,” it’s an album that’s never complacent. Public Strain’s an album that, even after multiple listens, you’re only scratching the surface. I think this is what I love most about it, that there’s always something newly discovered with each listen. There’s beauty and melody amidst the feedback and noise, and an album that at first seems cold and impenetrable, eventually reveals a warmth humming beneath its chilly atmosphere. Ultimately, what Public Strain boils down to and why I love it so much is this: a clash of noise and melody, of cold and warmth, an album that, as much as it sounds so perfectly constructed, feels like at any moment could burst apart. – calmrose
Genre: Folk/Experimental // Released: 2014
Turning a live album into a defining work is a tall order, but Ichiko Aoba had a leg-up from the word go: its studio counterpart was easily one of the best albums of the decade to begin with, while 0% is a case study on how to improve on an existing masterpiece. The album’s source material interspersed expansive, ambitious tracks with deep meditations on simple motifs, yet the whole thing was tied together by a beautifully delicate stream-of-consciousness feeling, so distinctly and subtly articulated that it was obvious Aoba had touched on something essential. Appropriately enough, that feeling is even more pronounced outside of a studio environment. With the additions of her staple track “Imperial Smoke Town” and the lighter-than-air daydream of an opener “Airplane”, 0% is a thorough triumph of brave and beautiful songwriting, requiring an odd combination of patience and adventurousness but always too airy and charming to seem uninviting.
In a decade where the most heralded folk albums have largely embraced the age-old routine of presenting personal narratives as neatly packaged popular storytelling, Ichiko Aoba’s twin masterpiece is evocative of how the Big Bang, for all its world-spawning creative oomph, was trapped in a soundless vacuum. We’re lucky enough that, beyond her Japanese audience, Aoba has stepped out of a vacuum and into the realm of cult classics. Good for her, but as I sat cross-legged on the floor of a grotty pub in London watching her play these songs to a primarily Asian audience whose bottom-rate tickets weren’t even checked on the door, it struck me that this was only a baby step towards the recognition 0% deserves. – Johnny
Genre: Indie Folk // Released: 2015
I adore the analogy of being a marathon runner with sprained ankles; it tells so much with such simplicity, begetting images of frustration and hopelessness despite probably being a very common occurrence for many runners training for marathons. Julien Baker embeds this feeling perfectly within her sparse, reverberated guitar strums and wavering, soprano voice, setting this scene immediately within the lyrics of ‘Blacktop’. I’m not surprised it led to scattered shockwaves around the country when the project dropped, and I’m not surprised at the following fame and collaborations Julien had the gift to experience after the initial response. What did surprise me was my friend and at the time bandmate breaking down to the chorus of ‘Everybody Does’ live after only hearing of her that very same night. While it’s simple, Julien’s sound is so strong and drenched in passion, it’s impossible to ignore the desperate yelps and echoing plucks across the shallow and bleak landscape of this album. There’s a reason so many writers were convinced of her sophomore project being important enough to collaborate on a review of our own, but upon ultimate reflection it’s the roots that come back to this album that truly stick around within the cold, hard ground. Just don’t trip. – Con
Genre: Indie Rock/Shoegaze // Released: 2014
When I first heard Lost In The Dream as a college student way back in 2014, it felt like an instant classic. It’s only aged well since then. Besides the simple greatness of the sound (shoegaze and modern indie meets 80s classic rock and Americana) and the songs, there’s a wonderful ambiguity to this album. Really, regardless of mood or occasion, this LP can still knock you out and feel like the greatest thing you’ve ever heard. It has a relaxed vibe, but also rocks hard, but also has emotional weight, anchored by Adam Granduciel’s best lyrics of his career.
At the end of the day, the tunes are what make a classic album. And classic tracks are found here in abundance. From the rollicking “Red Eyes” to the wallowing beauty of “Suffering” to the brilliant build-up of “An Ocean Against The Waves” and the mellow sentiment of the title track, it’s all here, never mind the numerous other fantastic songs which also populate this sturdy tracklist.
Ultimately, it’s hard to evaluate Lost In The Dream rationally, as every time I listen to it at this point it conjures up associations with my first real heartbreak (which hit me not long before the album’s release) or memories of the guy I knew from college who I went to see The War On Drugs with when they were touring for this album, and of his untimely passing a few years later. There’s something to be said for an album which brings you back and makes you contemplate matters big and small in your life. Also, I may have mentioned that the music is fantastic. If you missed this one, check it out. – Sunnyvale