2. Pet Shop Boys – Yes
This is unabashedly, commercially-minded music, but with the style and grace of two masters of the pop genre. In other words, it is the catchiest thing they have cobbled together since 1993’s Very. In order to pull this off, they went to the current hit making machine in the United Kingdom called Xenomania who helped coalesce PSB’s sound with the current feel of today’s hits. The outcome is an album that is all Pet Shops Boys, but with an added bounciness of today’s British hits like in “Love, Etc.” and “The Way It Used To Be.” Included also are some of the best ballads they done in a decade with “King Of Rome” and “Vulnerable.” Fans of PSB rejoice. Here is the album you’ve been waiting for since the sweetness of Very. And if you didn’t even know they were still making music, this is the perfect chance to rekindle that old relationship.
Favorite songs: “Love, Etc.”, “All Over The World”, “Did You See Me Coming?”, “Vulnerable”
1. Florence + The Machine – Lungs
I should have learned by now that the albums I go back to over and over again with no explanation are the ones that end up here at the top. This 23-year-old has completely blown me away with her voice resembling Toni Childs in indignity and Feist in quirkiness. In other words, like Sarah McLachlin on steroids. Songs like “Dog Days Are Over”, “Hurricane Drunk”, and “Rabbit Heart” are all melodrama. Others like “Girl With One Eye”, “My Boy Builds Coffins” and “Kiss With A Fist” show her twisted humor. Yet you get to the end and are blown away by the incredible love song “You’ve Got The Love”. This album defies all expectation. Lungs can be overblown at times and Florence’s intensity may not be for everyone, but it is undeniably emotional. The hurt, the spite and the love — squashed and returned — are felt here in waves of palpable empathy. We’ve all at some point felt these situations in the same complexity as her cut-to-the-heart lyrics. Lungs is a celebration of almost everything that a relationship can be whether we welcome it or not.
Favorite songs: “Dogs Days Are Over”, “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”, “Kiss With A Fist”, “Girl With One Eye”, “Hurricane Drunk”, “You’ve Got The Love”