Personal Top 10 Favourites of 2007

By chrisspurr chrisspurr
updated 29 days ago

An ordered list of my favourite albums from 2007, accompanied by an explanation as to why consisting of content from reviews published by various sources.


  1. Justice (3) - † (Cross)

    Release Date: June 18, 2007
    Genre: Electronic/House
    Favourite Track: Phantom, Pt. II

    Despite being primarily instrumental, Cross is an album that compels your attention at every moment. Justice accomplishes this feat by using distinctive sounds and continuously varying their hooks. This ensures that you’ll never be bored because you’ll never hear quite the same thing twice. The one thing that sets Cross apart from other dance albums is the lack of low end to the recording. The bass on the album has this loud distortion and when combined with the punchy drum sounds makes for a unique sounding dance album. The timbre of the sounds on Cross can be explained by looking at Justice’s equipment: a fleet of Korg synthesizers and a couple of MacBooks. Justice relies on heavily cut up samples, vocoders, grungy synthesizers and more traditional sounding horns and string instruments. Justice owes their distinctive sound to the decades of musical technological development that preceded them; the mixing of sounds that you hear would not have been fathomable even a century ago.

  2. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

    Release Date: October 2, 2007
    Genre: Psychedelic Rock
    Favourite Track: Weekend Wars

    The splendidly named Brooklyn duo of Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser did not initially intend for their music to be part of a recorded concern. They used to do fifteen minute shows, for which they would write a new song each time, and these would take the form of live electronic performance, with loops and arrangements manipulated on stage. Initially, they didn't take themselves seriously as songwriters, until Columbia Records offered up a six-figure recording contract. Hurriedly thrust into the studio due to escalating demand with only a handful of songs written, Oracular Spectacular was thrown together in a matter of weeks. The outcome, ironically, is a lifetime of ideas. As the name might suggest, it's an album loaded with excesses: ambitious and grand as such. One of the more notable elements of Oracular Spectacular is its preoccupation with youth, both lost and found. Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser stand at that awkward phase of life where there’s both lost innocence to mourn and a vibrant future to anticipate. It’s a confident debut, one that features two young musicians reveling in their abilities and perhaps discovering ones they didn’t know they had.

  3. Radiohead - In Rainbows

    Release Date: October 10, 2007
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: House of Cards

    Before it had even arrived in the world's inboxes, you would be hard-pushed to call Radiohead's seventh album anything other than a triumph, at least of marketing. The honesty box approach meant In Rainbows was discussed in areas not usually noted for their interest in leftfield gloom-rock, specifically in economics sections of newspapers. Retrospectively, the honesty box approach did two things: it showed that the best response to music piracy is to explore new, legal ways to get music into fans’ hands and it showed that the idea of setting a single, one-size-fits-all price for an album was long overdue a rethink. Not just because a lot of people wanted to pay less or nothing, but because plenty of fans wanted to pay more. Marketing aside, the most heartening thing about In Rainbows is that it ventures into new emotional territories. By the time Hail to the Thief was released it was scarred by the sense that the band's famed gloominess was starting to tip into self-parody and petulance. The surprising inclusion of several songs about relationships, desire, and dependency marked a strange injection for a band that's examined clinical emotional distance so well. In Rainbows refrains from proffering a grandiose statement, instead professing ideas that are witty, romantic, and life-affirming.

  4. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

    Release Date: July 8, 2007
    Genre: Folk
    Favourite Track: For Emma

    The biographical details behind the creation of an album shouldn't matter when it comes to a listener's enjoyment, but For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon's debut as Bon Iver, exudes such a strong sense of loneliness and remoteness that you might infer some tragedy behind it. In 2005, Vernon's former band DeYarmond Edison moved from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to North Carolina. As the band developed and matured in its new home, the members' artistic interests diverged and eventually the group disbanded. While his bandmates formed Megafaun, Vernon returned to Wisconsin, aching from the end of a romantic relationship and a band breakup that he believed to mark the death of his music career. Vernon holed up in remote northwestern Wisconsin for three months and spent his days hunting game and strumming an acoustic guitar. During that time, he wrote and recorded most of the songs that would eventually become For Emma, Forever Ago. As the second half of its title implies, the album is a ruminative collection of songs full of natural imagery and acoustic strums – the sound of a man left alone with his memories and a guitar. Fitting snugly into the period’s vogue for hushed Americana, the record has a natural openness and vulnerability, lending his sparse, acoustic songs extra layers of sequestration and loneliness.

  5. Attack In Black - The Curve Of The Earth

    4 For Sale from $26.04

    Release Date: November 13, 2007
    Genre: Folk
    Favourite Track: Morning Bird/Water Line

    The Curve of the Earth was not originally intended to be Attack in Black’s second album but ended up so after a member found an old two-input tape recorder and on a whim the band tried recording a few songs with it. Although Curve of the Earth was quickly put together in two days and nights in guitarist Spencer Burton’s sunroom, listening to these songs one wouldn’t be able to tell as none of them seem rushed or like ideas were being recycled even though they are fairly straightforward. Attack in Black’s transition from their folk-infused punk rock to their low key, acoustic sound could be risky but the Wellend, Ontario quartet pulls it off so natural that you can appreciate it for what it is. Comfortably matched with the folk styling of the album, the songs encourage you to slow down and appreciate the smaller things when the larger aspects of life seem overwhelming. Due to the nature of the recording, the songs have a less polished, more natural feel to them giving the album a sense of authenticity. What results is an honest, unique offering from a talented band.

  6. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver

    Release Date: March 12, 2007
    Genre: Electronic/Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: All My Friends

    The weirdest thing about James Murphy's wild ascent over the course of this past decade is how out of place he appears. Here's a pudgy, bearded forty-something writing songs about how hard it is to be cool, and somehow he manages to personify everything that exists about cool, for better or for worse. Sound of Silver, while still filled with that same tasteful homage and sarcastic bile of its predecessor, manages a thematically linked and dance-floor appropriate meditation on aging not quite gracefully. Murphy's been around long enough to know that life's too short to spend with people whom you don't legitimately care for. Sound of Silver acknowledges this by nostalgically looking back on Murphy’s years and mourning their loss, a tribute of sorts to the close friends that Murphy spent his younger years with. Murphy longed for a bygone era, and the band produced that nostalgia on Sound of Silver.

  7. Kanye West - Graduation

    Release Date: September 11, 2007
    Genre: Rap
    Favourite Track: Stronger

    For all the pageantry, the most substantial takeaway from Kanye's third album, Graduation, is the realization that he might actually deserve the legendary status he constantly ascribes to himself. Graduation’s title marks it as the conclusion of a trilogy, and it definitely feels more of a piece with his first two college-themed albums than with anything he’s released since, yet its sound and substance was undoubtedly a departure. On Graduation, West tries hard to address the problems on his first two albums, and succeeds: the new record is shorter than Late Registration, with no skits, and less ornate production. Kanye was well on his way to a new level of superstardom before the public ever heard a note of music from Graduation, and his lyrics throughout the album largely engage with his newfound celebrity. He muses on finding success by staying true to his own unique disposition: fame and wealth are the major theme of Graduation, and here he expresses conflicting feelings about the money he’s earned, describing a compulsion to spend that overtakes all other motivations. Kanye tries to reinforce the notion that he’s complicated, despite him spending most of Graduation basking in fame; the true message of Graduation is that he’s famous enough now to do what he wants, and not care how other people react.

  8. The National - Boxer

    Release Date: May 22, 2007
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Apartment Story

    For The National, the making of Boxer was a time of tested relationships. The band's four instrumentalists grew frustrated by singer Matt Berninger's slow pace at writing lyrics, and at each other's conflicting perfectionist streaks. Guitarist Aaron Dessner admitted to not being able to listen to it for months after its completion, and the documentary by Vincent Moon about Boxer's recording, depicted a thoroughly glum time. By contrast, the record's cover depicts a much more intimate, happy scene – a photo taken at Boxer producer Peter Katis's wedding. The contrast fits Boxer handsomely; a record built around fleeing the outside world for domesticity and, in turn, escaping domesticity by dressing it up in temporary uniforms. While for some, the idea of a record primarily concerned with surviving domestic life must seem hellishly boring or self-indulgent, the humanity it displays creates a moving record telling of self-loathing, fluctuating relationships, the desire for comfort, and endeavouring to be a good person. Here, Berninger observes the people around him – friends, lovers, passersby – alternately addressing them directly and imagining himself in their minds. He sounds genuinely empathetic, toying with ambiguity and backing away from outright satire. With a fear of white-collar assimilation, Berninger clings to his American angst as though recognizing the world's craziness makes him more sane.

  9. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

    Release Date: March 20, 2007
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Missed the Boat

    Following the breakout success of 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse were quickly regarded as being the next big indie rock band. Rather than allow this or the addition of world-renowned guitarist Johnny Marr to overshadow the just rewards that the band had earned, Modest Mouse did exactly as they had done the past with their new album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. We Were Dead was envisioned as a concept album about a boat crew that dies in every song, though it didn't turn out that way. After experiencing a spate of writer's block, Brock brought on Smith's guitarist Johnny Marr to help with writing. The lyrics of We Were Dead do not involve simple declarations, if by simple one means in line with convention, logic, or predictability; instead, intimacy is mixed with insult, imagination is rooted in emotion, and the listener is forced to grasp for meaning. As with any Modest Mouse album, futility and keenly-felt contradiction are Brock’s stock-in-trade, and his bemusement at blind human endeavour resurfaces throughout to create an album musing human abundance, existential dread, death, and futility.

  10. Joel Plaskett Emergency - Ashtray Rock

    Release Date: April 17, 2007
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Drunk Teenagers

    Joel Plaskett Emergency's heartfelt and exuberant Ashtray Rock is an all-Canadian roman à clef. Set against the sacred, secret party site somewhere out in the back 40, the album-long narrative tells of high school best buds who start a band, then drink, fight, and puke their way to a bitter, girlfriend-stealing, band-breaking-up finish. Even though it's peppered with references to Plaskett's own misspent youth in the woods of Clayton Park, the oft-shared, painful experiences of young adulthood come through in strains at once anthemic, goofy, heartbroken, and defiant, but always loud and proud. Nostalgic high schoolisms aside, Ashtray Rock is equally terrific for the things it is not. Neither cynical nor earnest, never hyper-orchestral, genre-mashing nor contrived, Ashtray Rock is just a solid collection of sharp, clean, catchy pop-rock tunes.