The former vocalist for Til Tuesday arrived fully formed as a vocalist and lyricist on her debut solo album, beginning with the addictive, hooky “I Should’ve Known” establishing the part-sardonic, part-sympathetic tone of the entire album, best personified by tracks like “Stupid Thing” and “Put Me on Top.”
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Sleek, lush debut for the Scottish synthpop band, “The Bones of What You Feel” sounds like what would happen if you crossed Dragonette with La Roux, with fast-paced, tight synth music shaped like straightforward pop music, resulting in an exciting, well-written and sung pop pastiche, with obvious stand-outs like “The Mother We Share” and “Recover” suggesting the band has even more to offer.
Even better than 1993′s legendary “Debut,” Bjork’s second solo studio album expands on both the themes and sound of the previous album, moving away from Debut’s “small town girl in the big city” persona and establishing a more experienced, social and interactive city dweller here, with songs like “I Miss You” and “Hyperballad” clearly demonstrating how Bjork can singularly create songs that are accessible to music geeks and non-music fans alike, and are endlessly listenable.
Another peculiar, unique and totally distinctive album from the ever-changing PJ Harvey, “White Chalk” is a haunting, oppressive rumination on grief, loss, and the overwhelming melancholia of regret, with Harvey’s deliberately girlish vocals giving the overall album an eerie, ghostly feel that is unlike anything else she has ever recorded.
A stylized follow-up to the previous year’s “Everything All the Time,” Band of Horses’s sophomore effort is even better than its predecessor, with a unified, sleek sound chaperoning vocalist Ben Bridwell’s distinctive, melancholic voice through a series of sly vocal acrobatics making for a lush, sensual sound.
An immediate precursor to the 1970s New York punk scene, Patti Smith’s “Horses” arrived like a wrecking ball thanks to Smith’s confrontational, fearless delivery and her poetic lyricism, breaking through the music industry fully formed as a poet but untrained as a musician or performer, making the overall album a visceral, unique classic.