|Ratings clean-up: questionable 4s|
Over the last two years, I’ve become a more critical rater. Whereas I used to give away 4s and 3.5s to everything that I sort of liked, now I only give a 4 or higher to albums that really mean something to me. This means that some of my older ratings aren’t accurate anymore. Therefore I’ve decided to relisten to the 4’s that I doubt still hold up and/or that I haven’t listened to in a long time.
Amenra are one of the post-metal bands I tried to get into after falling in love with ISIS (the band, that is). Mass VI earned a 4 on the strength of 'A Solitary Reign', and even though I still really enjoy that one and to a lesser extent 'Diaken', Amenra's music isn't my cup of tea, especially vocal-wise. It also doesn't help that I'm able to actually understand the spoken-word passages. I guess post-metal just isn't for me and ISIS remain the one weird exception.
|2||And Also The Trees|
Born Into The Waves
Good band, good album. And Also The Trees create this mysterious and haunting but beautiful world that can completely draw me in when I'm in the right mood. If this sounds interesting, check out their album '(Listen for) the Rag and Bone man', it's even better than this one.
|3||Anna von Hausswolff|
At first, I thought The Suburbs' problem was its bloatedness, but after listening I realised that the real issue for me is the album's lack of highlights. 'We Used To Wait', 'Suburban War' and maybe 'Sprawl I' are the only songs that I'd listen outside of the context of the album; the other songs are just okay. Sometimes, they can blend together a bit, especially during the stretch from 'Modern Man' to the 'Half Light' duo. Thus, the Suburbs is a collection of nice songs that I ultimately don't care too much about.
|5||Bonnie 'Prince' Billy|
I See a Darkness
The second half of I See A Darkness is nothing special, but its first half is so strong that I’ll keep my rating at a 4.0. The absolutely miserable one-two punch of ‘I See a Darkness’ and ‘Another Day Full of Dread’ is brilliant.
Dust and Disquiet
Returning to Treasure I found my opinion largely unchanged. I still think the record only takes off at ‘Persephone’ and its intense in-your-face drumming, I still think the mysterious ‘Otterley’ forms a nice change of pace on an overall quite homogenous album, and I still think ‘Amelia’ is comfortably the best song. What has changed, however, is my ratings system (sort of), which means I’m going to bump my rating down. I respect this album, but I don’t love it. I’m sorry, Cocteau Twins…
No, I just can't get into X&Y anymore. I remember it used to be my favourite album for a while when I was 15 years old, but now it just sounds so stale, so boring. Coldplay had already perfected this sound on A Rush of Blood. Luckily, they went on to do something fresh with Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto.
Random Access Memories
|10||Dead Can Dance|
Spleen and Ideal
Hmm. I can’t resist comparing Spleen and Ideal to Within the Realm of a Dying Sun – and that’s tough competition, as the latter is the obvious career highlight of DCD and one of my favourite albums in general. Spleen and Ideal isn’t nearly as captivating. Except for the haunting and brilliant ‘Mesmerism’, the album mostly passes by nicely in the background. Still, it’s such a well-crafted album that I can keep my 4.
Here Now, There Then
Aargh this was another tough decision. Haven't listened to Here Now, There Then in full in, uh, I guess six years or something like that. It held up better than I had expected, especially 'Vantablack' and 'Oweynagat', but overall, the album just misses the cut.
Eh, I guess Lost Souls can earn a pass. The record offers enough interesting ideas to keep me engaged throughout, although the middle section is a bit iffy. ‘Sea Song’, ‘Break Me Gently’ and ‘The Man Who Told Everything’ are all great alt-rock songs.
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
Images and Words
I was surprised by how well I still knew Images and Words, since I virtually haven't listened to the album in 5 years or so. I guess 17 years old me had this album on repeat, and I can still see why - the album is a lot of fun and consistent from beginning to end. I even enjoyed the hilariously cheesy 'Another Day'. Good album.
The Back Room
Leaders of the Free World
Total Life Forever
There is Love in You
Oooh this was nice! Most of the time I remain inside my indie rock bubble, so I was a bit hesitant going into an electronic album. It held up nicely though, especially the first half. 'Love Cry' is a jam.
Night proved to be another winner. It's impressive how Gazpacho effortlessly let the 17-minute opener 'Dream of Stone' pass by. Instead of resorting to wholly different passages in the vein of a traditional prog-rock epic, the band simply build upon one movement/atmosphere, and it works very well. I probably won't jam this album much, but my listen has encouraged me to check out another Gazpacho record somewhere in the future.
This was a fun listen! Opener ‘The Musical Box’ is a brilliant prog-rock song, definitely one of their best. The other songs don’t reach that same level, but they offer enough interesting material to keep me engaged, ranging from the gentle acoustics of ‘For Absent Friends’ to the atmospheric ‘Seven Stones’ and the silly ‘Harold the Barrel’. Good album, a must-listen for those who’ve heard and liked Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound.
Joy as an Act of Resistance
No, Antics doesn't come close to the brilliance of Turn on the Bright Lights. The only songs here I care about are 'Take You on a Cruise', 'Not Even Jail', 'Public Pervert' and 'A Time to Be So Small'; the other songs vary from okay ('Next Exit', 'Evil') to downright annoying ('Slow Hands', 'C'mere'). Turns out my love for Interpol mostly comes down to the strength of TOTBL.
Yes, this is more like it. Another nice discovery, as I didn't remember how good this actually was. 'My Desire' and 'Everything Is Wrong' are my favourites, but the album is really consistent overall.
In The Throes
I had my doubts about this one, but it’s really good actually. Apart from the beautiful ‘Blacklist’, it’s hard to single out highlights, and I think that’s what had me worried, but the album remains on such a consistently high level that this isn’t a problem. Go check if you’re interested in sad alt-country.
Loud City Song
I respect this album, but in the end it doesn't work for me. It's all a bit too artsy, a bit too strange. It does try something unique though, so I'd recommend this album if you want to hear some lush and intriguing uhm, ambient art pop?
VERDICT: DEMOTED for now
I will forever defend the opener and 'The Mark Kozelek Museum', especially its entrancing last two minutes, but God do I not want to listen to this in full. First four songs are fine, but there's still 50 minutes of material left of which I only remember 'Sublime', 'The Banjo Song' and the closer having its moments. Maybe later I'll sit through this in full, for now it's a 3.5
Once More 'Round the Sun
Yeah this is the type of Mastodon I vibe with. Not too complex, heavy or drawn-out; just rock song after rock song. Highlights for me are 'Tread Lightly', 'Chimes at Midnight' and 'Asleep in the Deep'.
Emperor of Sand
I like Emperor of Sand for the same reasons I like Once More 'Round the Sun, even if it loses my attention a bit during the second half. Good thing Mastodon end this album with 'Jaguar God'. It was the first metal song I loved, I think, and I still love it for its perfect build-up from the mellow beginning towards the epic ending.
Crack the Skye
I enjoy the quick and melodic 'Divinations', the darker 'Ghost of Karelia' and the epic 'The Last Baron', but I don't care enough about the other songs to maintain my 4.0. Especially 'The Czar' is a bit of a slog.
Catch For Us the Foxes
About a year ago, I was obsessed with Catch For Us the Foxes for three days or so and then never listened to it again. While revisiting, I originally wrote this off as I struggled with the vocals and some of the harsher sections, but the album managed to win me over again, making it probably my biggest rediscovery on this list yet. Special shout-out to ‘Four Word Letter’s’ second verse and its transition into the chorus (“AND JUST UNIMAGINABLY LONELY”).
Origin of Symmetry
I absolutely adored Muse when I was 16, but I haven't really listened to their material during the last six or seven years. After already revisiting Absolution (once my favourite album) and finding out it had aged badly, I was a bit hesitant to approach Origin of Symmetry, but to my surprise I really enjoyed it. Maybe I was just in the right mood for their energetic breakthrough album, I don't know. For now, it definitely earns a 'pass'.
The Resistance was more of a letdown. I just don't feel this anymore. Songs like 'Uprising' and 'The Resistance' made such an impression on me - I remember counting the former amongst my favourite songs - but nowadays it's just...okay. On top of that, you have songs like 'United States of Eurasia' and 'Guiding Light' that I never really cared for and now actively dislike. Luckily, the album ends on a strong note with the Exogenesis Trilogy, and 'MK Ultra' also deserves a shout. But these highlights are by no means enough to save The Resisance from demotion.
I knew 'Says' and 'Said and Done' are brilliant, but what about the other 60 minutes left on this record? Turns out there's enough to like. Even if the other songs aren't as memorable as those two highlights, Spaces is a pleasant listen from front to back.
VERDICT: DEMOTED TO A 3.0
Huh, I really didn’t care for this. It’s nice background music, but it clearly lacks the oomph to earn a 4.0.
|39||Nothing But Thieves|
Nothing But Thieves
Wow, the debut album of NBT really surprised me. I did not expect it to hold up at all, since I haven't listened to it since five or six years and my Muse phase is long gone, but I really enjoyed it. 'Excuse Me' is a great opener, 'Hostage' is a great rocker, 'Graveyard Whistling' is a great pop song and 'If I Get High' is a great ballad. Only in the last part of the album are some weaker cuts to be found ('Lover, Please Stay' and 'Drawing Pins'). These could have been swapped by any of the excellent bonus tracks, especially 'Neon Brother'. Feels good to be pleasantly surprised!
Another Lonely Soul
Novastar is a Dutch artist who makes piano-based pop-rock comparable to Keane (his voice even sounds eerily similar to Chaplin’s). This album still holds up; the highlights are in the first half, but the songs on the second half is a nice listen as well. Check out the first two songs if you want a taste of what this sounds like.
Why did I put Loss on this list? It's awesome! Think of a combination between post-metal and Godspeed You! Black Emperor and you got Pijn's sound. Highlights are 'Squander' (check this one out!) and the opening trio. Apart from the 18-minute 'Unspoken', which I don't think justifies its length, Loss is a fantastic album that might even deserve a 4.5.
Wish You Were Here
Up the Downstair
This was alright, but by the time I’ve arrived at the end I’m just tired of the sound Porcupine Tree go for here. Up the Downstair is a good psychedelic rock album, but too much of the same for me to fully enjoy. Highlights are the t/t and Fadeaway, low point is the uninspired and wearisome Burning Sky.
Med Sud i Eyrum vid Spilum Endalaust
Med Sud is Sigur Rós most playful album, and it’s not the type of Sigur Rós I enjoy the most. More worryingly, I think both epics are relatively weak songs. Whereas on ( ) (their masterpiece imo) there was always a sense of progression, ‘Festival’ just aimlessly wanders about for some minutes and then suddenly jumps to this bombastic ending. ‘Ára bátur’ is better, but still not on par with their older work. Thus, although ‘Gódan daginn’ and ‘Fljótavík’ are absolutely beautiful, the rest of the album leaves me unconvinced.
Hmm...not a record I cherish, but one that I respect enough to give a 4.0. I could listen to 'Machine Gun' forever.
A Hundred Million Suns
I spent some time deliberating over Insurgentes, because I do think it is a really interesting record. Steven Wilson experiments with different genres, and on songs like ‘Abandoner’, ‘Veneno Para Las Hadas’ and ‘Significant Other’, it pays off. Ultimately, however, I felt both the album as a whole and some of the longer individual tracks to be a bit aimless; the interesting ideas aren’t really integrated into a cohesive package, but operate in isolation, which is why I’ve in the end decided to lower my rating.
Not as strong as his other albums, but good enough to justify a 4.0. ‘To Be Alone With You’ is the best song.
|50||Sun Kil Moon|
Admiral Fell Promises
Even In the Quietest Moments
Spirit of Eden
Another case of wanting to like more than actually liking. 'I Believe in You' and 'Wealth' are stunning, but if I'm honest, the other songs leave little impression; 'The Rainbow' is 9 minutes of nothing and I also can't remember anything about 'Inheritance'. Down this goes.
In the Attic of the Universe
In just 28 minutes, The Antlers manage to create a beautiful world for the listener to explore and find comfort in. In the Attic of the Universe is still such a unique listen; no doubt about my 4 here.
Such a romantic album…my evening listens to this during the last two days have convinced me of its strength. Highlights are ‘If Love Could Last Forever’ and the last three songs that
Good Things Do Happen
This was a user project I stumbled upon in 2017, I think, which means I'm probably the only person in the world to listen to this. That's a shame, because it's a good album. It feels so warm, so cozy and melancholic. The best songs are 'Hello Friends', 'Drunken Serenade' and 'Dune'.
I never listened to Aenima all that much, so I was curious to see if it would hold up. It did! It's a bit inconvenient that the two songs I'm not fond of ('Pushit' and 'Third Eye') are also the longest songs on the album, but otherwise Aenima is very consistent. The title track was a nice surprise, didn't remember it to be that strong. I still don't think I'll jam the album much, but when I'm in the right mood I know I'll enjoy listening to it.
Edit: I've been listening to Aenima the last weeks and I realised pissed-off Tool is actually the best Tool. I decided to check out Undertow, which rips as well. Good stuff.
|58||Tropical Fuck Storm|
A Laughing Death in Meatspace
|59||We Lost the Sea|
Oof, this was a tough decision. We Lost the Sea make very solid crescendo-core post-rock, 'Bogatyri' being a prime example. However, 'Challenger Pt. 1' was a mind-numbingly boring listen, and this is a BIG however since the song goes on for over 20 minutes. Gonna bump Departure Songs down to a 3.5, alhough I can see it growing back to a 4.
I want to like Titanic Rising more than I actually do, but it's all just a bit too slow for my liking. The magnificent 'Movies' is the only song that really packs a punch; I would've liked more of that.