Well, here it is. My Top 10 songs of 2008. Yes, there are artist double ups. No, I don’t care. These are my favourite songs, the songs that have spoken to me and thrilled me and carried me through 2008. I wouldn’t put too much stock in the numbering of tracks 10-2 though. The number 1 song definitely belongs there, but the rest of the Top 10 fluctuates depending on which track I’m listening to at the time, so they’re all kinda equal anyway.
10. My Backwards Walk – Frightened Rabbit Self pity and optimism mesh together with lyrics that are poignant (my clothes won’t let me close the door/my trousers seem to love your floor) and beg be to be shouted (you’re the shit and I’m knee deep in it). How can you not sing along?
9. Time To Pretend – MGMT This song changed positions countless times during the fleshing out of my Top 50. It never dipped below the top 15, but it did sit in a number of different spots. In the end I decided it was definitely worthy of a top 10 position. It’s just so damn infectious, drenched in youth and exuberance. Even that keyboard intro is enough to get me smiling, and the cynical lyrics cap it off beautifully.
8. Anna – Hello Saferide The first couple of times I heard this I focused more on the catchy melody and didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics, so it took me a few listens to realise how moving this track is. Anna is the daughter that the protaginist always hoped to have and much of the song details the hopes that she had for her, but shifts focus towards the end. Well I’m real sorry Anna, you never got to be/Because your daddy moved on and left me. Hope, possibility, loss and longing delivered in under three minutes, all wrapped up in an infectious bundle of twee indie pop.
7. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes It took me a little while to get into these guys. In the beginning I thought they were ok, but couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. This track kept popping up on my iPod though, and one winter morning it finally clicked. The harmonies and layers of sound blend and build, and the imagery is gorgeous.
I was following the pack
all swallowed in their coats
with scarves of red tied ’round their throats…
6. A Burden – Horse Feathers The deceptively simple musical stylings of the Horse Feathers have really made an impact this year. This track features hushed vocals that almost take a backseat to the beautiful dancing strings. Lovely.
5. Festival – Sigur Ros That voice. The yearning. That moment when those drums kick in, the bass, the strings, the horns, that build up. Makes me tear up every time.
4. He Doesn’t Know Why – Fleet Foxes Old worldly charm abounds in this track, which incidentally was the catalyst that made me rush out and buy the CD the day I heard it. Gorgeous piano, lush harmonies and wistful lyrics. Timeless.
3. Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur – Sigur Ros A serious departure from what I’d come to expect from Sigur Ros, this track has served as a much needed pick-me-up for months. An explosion of joy and exuberance that begs for and receives repeated listens.
2. On Tour With Zykos – Okkervil River The Stand Ins took a little while to sink in for me. Luckily I woke up to myself and I love it now, with this track being the one that’s really taken hold. I love the measured use of horns and defined chord progressions that subtly drive home every point, and the ebb and flow of the words as they bleed from one line into the next. Will Sheff continues his tradition of writing character driven stories of loss, hopelessness and regret, proving that he’s one of the best songwriters around.
1. The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit I think by now we’re all familiar with Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight and its stunning portrayal of all that can go wrong between two people who loved once, but love no more. This particular track deals with how difficult it can be to let go of a long-term relationship, regardless of how dark and damaging it’s become. The lyrics are filled with self loathing and despair as he questions why somebody would keep returning to a relationship that’s clearly dead. You must be a masochist to love a modern leper on his last leg. What I love about this song is its gritty honesty and the fact that, while it deals with pretty dark thoughts, it’s all delivered in an uplifting brand of pure acoustic rock. And don’t forget the Scottish accent.
Check out the rest of the countdown…