22 Songs I Loved in 2012 by Lucy Cage
By Lucy Cage
What is slightly peculiar about this collection of some of my favourite songs of the year so far is how tangentially it reflects the nowness of now… yes, I love them all (and I’m certain to have missed out even better ones through ignorance or forgetfulness) but I don’t know if anyone casting an ear down this list would know for certain what an odd moment in history they were spawned in. Except for Plan B and M.I.A., which are immediately recognisable as the offspring of the current historical situation, most of these songs are apparently politically neutral, which obviously says as much about who and where I am as some general zeistgeisty truth about how music relates to historical events, but… I wonder if a similar list drawn up by a similar person in 1968 or 1977 would’ve been so unconsious of its significance to posterity. And I wonder whether the rest of the year will be any different.
I’m still waiting for the click…
Chairlift – Met Before
Love the spangly crunch of the guitars and the way the vocals gasp and soar. A full-on golden rush of a song about that archetypically pop moment of giddiness at first glance “among the buzzing of billions” (lovely image!) mirrored in the archetypically pop “bah bah bahs” and “ooh ooh oohs” of the backing vocalists. Look out for an understated but brilliant flute solo.
The Shins – Simple Song
Songs about songs that are songs about love, part 12,003. Is a pop song the ultimate love gift? Does music operate on the same resonant frequency as love? Can it conjure the same lift of the heart, the same ache, with sympathetic harmonics of chords, heartstrings and groin? Maybe, maybe not, but this song certanly knows a trick or two.
My life in an upturned boat, marooned on a cliff/You brought me a great big flood and you gave me a lift/Girl, what a gift./You tell me with your tongue/And your breath was in my lungs/And we float up over the rift…
Here We Go Magic – How Do I Know?
Only a simple song… but there’s something about the rolling relentlessness of that riff, the way it chang-chang-changs on determinedly below the cascading vocals which hang on over the edge of bars like pooling water before being reeled back on track. Works for me.
Poliça – Lay Your Cards Out
I happen to know how irritating some people find her autotuned-to-distorted-fuck vocals, but I like the way they slide into alien shimmers at the end of phrases, how they slip like quicksilver over the notes, how the rhythm track batters away in the background like a gathering storm and how the restlessness depicted in the lyrics is echoed in electric buzzes, skitters and whirrs; it’s like someone on a too-hot night caught between flushed finger-tapping and languid lolling…
Beach House – Myth
It’s on the very edge of being too sweet (I got to the point where I could no longer listen to BH’s ‘Zebra’ after falling for its prettiness last year) but there’s a buttery androgynous grain to Victoria Legrand’s vocals that I find myself unable to resist. Ideally this’d be listened to this at dusk, lying on the grass, under a gently erupting volcano.
Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built
Sparky, desperate, rough-edged, delirium-fuelled, defiant, shouty boy pop. There’s a place for it, you know.