Colin Polonowski's Top 5 of 2008

Picking five top albums for this year was hard - and it'd be near impossible to put them in order, so my selections are just dropped in randomly below. 2008 has been a pretty good year for music with some familiar faces bringing us some good quality albums. Likewise it's been a good year for new acts with some fresh talent injecting some much needed life into the music scene...

Nicole Atkins - Neptune City

Grand - that's one word that jumps to mind when describing Nicole Atkins' wonderful album, Neptune City. The dreamy, adventurous sound is perfectly suited to Atkins' powerful voice. The album was reportedly reworked at the last minute with early previews suggesting that she was somewhat lost amongst the music, thankfully the final result proves a success. It's all to easy to get caught up in the feel of this album, but lyrically it's just as strong as everything else and repeated listens only manage to reveal more depth. Whilst firmly grounded in 2008, there is still an invocation of nostalgia - Atkins has managed to put together an album that would sit well in any decade or era from the past fifty years yet succeeds in a freshness that very few manage to acheive. A brisk 40-minute release that opens with the wonderful Maybe Tonight and stays with you long after the final track, Party's Over, is silenced.

Girls Aloud - Out of Control

Out of Control is yet more evidence that Girls Aloud have well and truly left their reality TV roots behind. One one hand, this is a simple pop release, but on the other it's twelve slices of perfectly produced, eighties-influenced goodness. Whether its the girls themselves or Xenomania's well tuned production line, there's not a wrong step here. The Promise is this year's best feel good pop track by far, while even the most hardened music snob can't deny that Pet Shop Boys collaboration The Loving Kind is a great piece of music. Lyrically, sonically and even visually, the girls have excelled with this release and if they can repeat this feat year-on-year, their position at the top of the UK pop scene is safe.

Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy

A return to good, solid, rock - Chinese Democracy may have taken years to appear, but the wait was worth it. Axl Rose and co have put together one of the biggest and best rock albums of the decade so far and in the process silenced all the detractors who felt that the band without Slash were never going to succeed. Bold and brash, Chinese Democracy grabs hold and doesn't let go until the final closing seconds. Is it perfect? No of course not - it's over-produced for one and would never live up to the hype that the fifteen years since "The Spaghetti Incident?" was released have created. However, rock has been stuck in a huge rut during the last ten years and it needed something to give it a huge kick up the rear end. Coupled with Metallica's Death Magnetic 2008 has been a treat with a return to form for quality hard rock.

The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing

Musical marmite - love, or hate them, the Ting Tings have left an indelible mark on the indie pop scene. Appearing on the scene with the irritatingly catchy That's Not My Name, Jules De Martino and Katie White may find they drop out of favour as quickly as they rose, but even so we can enjoy We Started Nothing as being an extremely inventive pop debut. With punk, pop and indie influences and a synth sound that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1988, the Ting Tings had the cards stacked against them and its a true suprise that they've been the phenomenon that they are. Even now, I can't be totally sure I actually like them, but there's something infectious that I can't put my finger on; We Started Nothing is one of my most played albums of the year and therefore it would be amiss of me not to include them in my top five. There must be a reason I keep going back for another listen, even if I don't know what it is.

Portishead - Third

Initially a disappointment for me, Third took several listens before I finally got it, and when I did everything clicked into place. Portishead's third studio album was long-awaited and well received and is now, for me, the best thing they've done by far. Taking greater risks with their sound, dropping much of what they're known for, Third is a very different beast to what we've seen before. It's much more subtle, with more time taken to evoke a feeling of warmth that the previous albums lacked. You can't dip in and out and this isn't an album to be played on shuffle; but if taken as a whole it is truly a work of audio art. Yet, despite seeming new and different there is a level of familiarity brought by Beth Gibbons voice and the final few tracks really offer a level of passion that we've never seen before.

Last updated: 18/04/2018 21:17:12

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