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.
[Stay tuned tomorrow for number nine!]