Album of the Year 2010: Number 10

10. Matthew Dear: Black City (Ghostly) [8.9]


Well there was a fair bit of debating on Friday about whether this or Erland and the Carnival were going to take the number ten spot, close as they are in quality, albeit different worlds when it comes to styles.

Another album that takes time to get into, being listed as electronic, although I’d see it as more avant-garde, following on from Martin Grech a few years ago.

There’s a lot to dislike actually on the first few listens, as Dear’s voice is not the most enduring, there seems to be some rather naive melodies, interestingly silly humming (again, this resulted in the wife wondering what the hell I was listening to when I played Slowdance the other day – easily my favourite song on the album).

Yet it grows, and then it grows, and then it grows some more, and it seems my lack of knowledge of the artist has worked against me, as those familiar with Dear’s work had some idea of how to approach the album.

There’s very obvious influences from his days as a DJ, and, as the Pitchfork review states:

Dear doesn’t really do clean electro-pop; his approach is more about pushing contrasting sounds together and leaving the edges jagged. The other part is his vocals. Dear is not a classically strong singer and can often sound pretty flat; importantly he knows how to make up for it.

This is what appeals to me, the idea of a jagged electro-pop feel, rather than a clean, dancefloor friendly effect. The other positive is that Dear is also aware of his vocal limitations and what he needs to do about that.

If you want to put this on in the background and see how it sounds, you’re going to be rather disappointed. This is an album that needs time and serious listening. If both are assigned to it then I am pretty sure you’ll realise why it’s in this lofty position.

A rather interesting montage teaser for the album…

[Stay tuned tomorrow for number nine!]


About Mark S. Deniz

English teacher, writer, editor, publisher, reviewer and blogger. Founder of publishing company, Morrigan Books and imprint, Gilgamesh Press and editor-in-chief for review site, Beyond Fiction. Also cycles, plays floorball, listens to lots and lots of music, reads a ton of books and tries to fit in some TV, film and writing too. View all posts by Mark S. Deniz

2 responses to “Album of the Year 2010: Number 10

  • Karin Strand

    Mycket intressant album, och helt ny artist för mig. 🙂 Har redan fastnat för bla “Slowdance” och “Soil To Seed”. Det här kommer jag garanterat att lyssna mer på.

    • Mark Deniz

      I love Slowdance, it has really really grown on me. This was one the one that Etina wondered what the hell I was listening to when I had it on the other day…;)

      Well, I think you will enjoy the list as it comes up, as for all my talking about lyrics in the Black Lion, there is much in here due to the music content…

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