Album of the year 2011.

Posted on December 25, 2011

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Des Ark – ‘Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker’
I am a man of frequent over-excitement. On many occasions I will hear or see something, and proclaim it as awesome, as wonderful, fantastic, etc etc. Usually there are about four albums throughout the year that I claim are ‘Album of the year’ and many other cliches, or failing thats its at least pretty darn close. Last year for example, I didn’t decide on Daughters being my favourite until around the middle of December. I like to proclaim, and I frequently do. Sometimes it isn’t truly warranted. This however, deserves more acclaim than I can award it, and I’m a well spoken young chap.

This is an incredibly special album. Whilst only being 8 songs long, I feel that I could write an essay analysing each one. On a completely base level however, without any over-analysis, these are great songs. The intricacy in Aimee Argote’s guitar playing is beyond clever, with the most subtle of changes bringing about a monumental shift in feeling. It is a record that sounds huge, it completes its space, but you quickly realise that this is the work of a small number of instruments. This is just a lesson in how to use your instruments. What does it sound like? Well, they are 8 songs that were written on an acoustic guitar, as if they were singer songwriter stuff. They were then fleshed out by a full band, but it is still heavy on the acoustic. It is equal parts Joanna Newsom, Forget Cassettes and Trail of Dead, without sounding like anything else. I don’t even think those comparisons make any sense, its just music that sounds familiar but unplaceable. Songs like ‘My Saddle is Waiting’ and ‘FTW, Y’all!’This is without saying the obvious, which is that it is a beautiful album with a hint of fear. It is an incredibly gorgeous dancing with you whilst holding a knife to your back. It is the perfect weight between misery and joy.

The lyrics of this album are the cornerstone however. For me, the lyrics of this record and the sounds that they are attached to, are proof enough that females will always have the potential to make better albums than males, and not necessarily for good reasons. This is an album about confusion, regret, love, lust and things that no one should have to endure. ‘My Saddle is Waiting’ opens up the album with the beautiful line ‘I want to die with a halo on my head for all of my friends’, a song about wanting the best and to be the best for the people you love, but always managing to make errors that are your own fault. It’s a song that feautures thoughts that I’ve mulled over for the last few years, only wording it far better than I could ever hope to. It also contains glimpses of Argote’s knowledge and realisation that is all life and nothing more, and an awareness of death. ‘I know I’m dying alone’, words that we all know but are far too scared to say. The song builds towards a pre-climax, with Argote whispering ‘I’d love to keep on loving you my dear, but you’re already dead’, before exploding in a complete kaleidoscope of light. It’s absolutely stunning.

‘Girls Get Ruff’ follows up with hooks that do lodge into your skull, a song about the thrill of lust and the role alcohol plays in false happiness, and contains more absolute poetry from Argote. It also contains the first glimpse of troubles in Argote’s past, and the story throughout of being abused both sexually and emotionally. The song starts off almost playful, talking of ‘girls who get drunk as the best way they know how to open up’, but mid way through this descends into a segment that really stands this album out. ‘I will take him home, we’ll start making out before we make it to the front door, wait for it and I swear that it will come, yeah you’re flashing back to the days when you were younger. Woods behind my house, who’s that man covering up my mouth?’. The song ends with the brutal honesty of ‘When will you understand, when I look at the body of a man, all I see is a stockpiling of weaponry’. There are studies and essays written about the influence that sexual abuse can have on a some one later in life. This is an album about it. It is shocking, it is incredibly difficult to listen to at times, but it is utterly gripping throughout, and it is a story that Argote sounds like she needs to get out, needs to be heard.

This is best shown on the albums standout track, ‘Ashley’s Song’. There is no messing around here, this is a song about being abused and having nobody believe you, having everyone think that you are just attention seeking. The opening gambit is ‘In a dream there is a boy, twice my age or maybe more, his hands are cut like stone, I don’t know what he’s doing but he’s inside of me’. I can’t put in words the effect that this album has on its listener, so you’ll just have to listen to it, but more than any other song, ‘Ashley’s Song’ is the one that musically is perfect. A similar feel to ‘If By ‘Gay’ You Mean ‘Totally Freakin’ Awesome’, then yeah, I Guess I’m Pretty Gay’ from an earlier EP, it is a dark troubled withheld rock song. It also contains a lyric that sums up the album more so than any, and a line that will problably conclude an indepth review of this album, because from a stand off listener point, it is the absolute high point.

‘My knees are weak, my angers thick, my bones are brittle, my bodys sick, and all I’ve ever known is when I fuck I fuck to prove him wrong’.

It takes balls to write this album. This is an album that no normal person, no normal band can make. For subject matter so dark, it is an album completely full of light, full of hope and full of optimism. I really can’t say enough good about it. Just go and listen to it, please. Instead of a rambling review that did not focus on any points, I should have just posted a list of lyrics from the record, or a link to a free stream.

This is my album of the year, and it was from the first listen. Absolutely stunning. Great title too.

 

So yeah, that concludes the musical round up of the year. Final top 5 was as follows…

01: Des Ark – ‘Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker’
02: Young Legionnaire – ‘Crisis Works’
03: Red Fang – ‘Murder the Mountains’
04: Braids – ‘Native Speaker’
05: And So I Watch You From Afar – ‘Gangs’

Des Ark join a pretty prestigious list since I started actually doing an album of the year! The past winners as follows…

2011: Des Ark – ‘Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker’
2010: Daughters – ‘Daughters’
2009: Every Time I Die – ‘New Junk Aesthetic’
2008: Elbow – ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’
2007: Reuben – ‘In Nothing We Trust’
2006: Cult of Luna – ‘Somewhere Along the Highway’
2005: yourcodenameis:milo – ‘Ignoto’
2004: Cult of Luna – ‘Salvation’
2003: Deftones – ‘Deftones’
2002: Vex Red – ‘Start With a Strong and Persistent Desire’

Roll on next year. I know I said this last year, but it’ll be about one thing. TOOL.

 

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