If 2007 belonged to anyone then that person really had to be James Murphy. Yes, BlackPlastic is pretty much always waxing lyrical about this man's efforts but by golly he did some fine things in 2007. Whilst 'All My Friends' and 'New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down' were both staggeringly good if BlackPlastic had to finger the best six-and-a-half-minutes of pure joy heard this year it would be 'Someone Great' that benefits. Unlike some of the other great cuts on Sound of Silver, 'Someone Great' was in no way derivative and managed to prove that great dance music can have a multitude of emotional depths and make you want to get down at the same time. The observant and loyal readers out there may remember that upon hearing four leaked songs from Sound of Silver BlackPlastic identified 'Someone Great' as the only one that wasn't worthy of five stars. Obviously we meant it deserved seven, a la The Burj Al Arab. Oh, alright, we were wrong - everyone makes mistakes (but it's always ours that seem to keep on sticking).
Also great in 07 from our man Murphy was his Nike project (now thankfully released sans-brand), 45:33. In releasing a 45 minute continuous opus upon the listener Murphy demonstrated that the concept of an 'album' is indeed perhaps a little tired and overused. Other similar projects have followed - check out Ricardo Villalobos' Fabric 36, whilst this did have track names and markers at least it still marks a move to the artist album as the mix album with all 15 tracks coming from Villalobos himself. Indeed Tony Naylor has already commented on this trend over at The Guardian.
Many albums and songs slip through the BlackPlastic net simply due to time constraints and due to the nature of this blog the focus tends to go to the electronic offerings rather than the many great non-electronic albums (BlackPlastic can't bring itself to say the word 'rock'... Whoops, there it is). Three of the best of such albums were Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before The Ship Sank and Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
Whilst not as accessible as its predecessor, Neon Bible represents the sound of a band still soaring above the competition. 'No Cars Go' was heart stopping and riot inducingly gorgeous
whilst 'My Body Is A Cage' and 'Intervention' managed to be dark, bold and uplifting all at the same time.
Both We Were Dead Before The Ship Sank and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga represented further refinements of their respective creators' sounds. Modest Mouse added a widescreen ambition and a greater creative breadth to 2004's Good News For People Who Love Bad News whilst Spoon focused on detail and perfection, creating a highly focused album that could never be accused of outstaying its welcome. Highlights from the former include warm sun-drenched 'Dashboard', the raucous 'Florida' and the epic, twisted, barnyard-country-stomp-come-hate-fueled-rant that was 'Parting of the Sensory'. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga on the other hand boasted the paranoid space waltz of 'The Ghost of You Lingers' as well as the salsa tinged 'You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb' and 'The Underdog'.
2007. Pop music got great again. Hot Chip continued to be loved by everyone. It's an overused analogy but Robyn created pop's 'Unfinished Sympathy' in the form of 'Every Heartbeat'. The Klaxons were over-exposed but the sheer addictiveness of 'Atlantis To Interzone' and 'Gravity's Rainbow' was undeniable, as was the joy that came from the production of Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford - just check out the distortion heavy "WUUUURRRRMPHHHHH!" that consumes 'Magick' one-and-a-half-minutes in.
Elsewhere Simian Mobile Disco proved their mettle with their debut album, Attack Decay Sustain Release. With opening track 'Sleep Deprivation' coming on like a call to arms, SMD proved they already had a handle on the album format. All the singles (check 'Hustler' and 'It's The Beat') were awesome but it was also great to hear the return of Clor's vocalist, Barry Dobin, on the infectious 'Love'.
Also at home with the album format were Justice. If anyone gave Murphy a run for his money in the 'owning 2007' stakes it was these distortion loving, leather jacket weather French dance gods. 'D.A.N.C.E' proved they could own your head, heart and soul for months on end whilst † (cross) proved it wasn't a one-off. When looking back in years to come, 2007 will be known as the year that if you didn't remix 'D.A.N.C.E' then you probably weren't actually alive anymore. What's more, Ed Banger was undoubtedly the label of the year - transcending anything as dull as releasing records to become a fashion icon.
Off the back of Ed Banger and Justice Daft Punk became cool again. Daft Punk continue to be an enigma, capable of cropping up in pop records one minute (see Kanye West's 'Stronger') and creating their own art-house movie masterpiece the next (see Electroma). If you saw one artist live in 2007 it should have been Daft Punk. Sadly BlackPlastic missed them, but Alive 2007 is a testament not only to their back catalogue's quality but also their understanding of providing entertainment.
Radiohead got a bit sexy and by ramping up the temperature recorded then effectively gave away their best album in a decade.
BlackPlastic is slightly shocked to admit that if you bought one mix album this year it should probably have been Adam Freelands' Global Underground 32 on the basis that the first disc summarised the distortion heavy sound of dance music in 2007 better than anything else. If you bought two the second should have been the risk-taking experimentalism of The Glimmers' Eskimo V. If, like BlackPlastic however, you bought stacks and stacks then Hot Chip's DJ Kicks, Simian Mobile Disco's Suck My Deck, Fred Deakin's The Triptych and Kitsune Maison 4 should all have been on your list.
Elsewhere Joakim created a cult classic in the form of the techno-post-punk Monsters & Silly Songs and with Asa Breed Matthew Dear created a beautiful pop album that sounded like Prince and The Postal Service without losing his artistic integrity or his detailed production sound. Bloc Party grew up with A Weekend In The City and then got down with single 'Flux' and Shy Child gave everyone tinnitus with the appropriately named Noise Won't Stop. The Battles, Architecture In Helsinki and Chromeo all made great albums.
Next year watch out for The Whip, Uffie, Foals and The Answering Machine amongst others, for they just might own it.