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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Hot Chip
Made In the Dark

Rating: 8.8/10 ?

February 5, 2008
Those of us who prefer songs to textures might have our tastes in electronica scoffed at as ephemeral, to which I say, whatever, you liked "Rockefeller Skank" in '98, too. Song-based techno's on a boom right now that nearly matches the great, millennial Chemical Brothers-Moby-Prodigy coup. I'm not even talking about LCD Soundsystem, who, fresh off his Pazz & Jop win, is still a groove artist with a gimmick. But I'll throw down for last year's frayed and warped Justice record, the Knife, of course, and the lovable jokers in Hot Chip, who, no matter what you've read, are only just now splitting the atom.

Like James Murphy, who owns their American label, Hot Chip's stock in trade is defeating the aridity of drum machines and loops with the flesh and blood of well-chiseled witticisms, which is what "Over and Over," their surprise 2006 hit, was full of. But their well-touted 2006 album The Warning, from whence the single was pulled, still sounded wimpy. Great ideas and tunes swimming at a frantic pace, yes, it had. But it leaned a bit too hard on precious tendencies toward xylophones and cutenesses that won't wear as well as they might have at first seemed (pulled out that Postal Service album lately?).

Made In the Dark, the London five-piece's third album, casts their largest net so far, fashioning anything at its disposal into a hook, from the cock-rock guitars in "Bendable/Poseable" to the wordless, synthesized surf riffs when opener "Out at the Pictures" kicks in. "Kicks in" is an important phrase here, as the albums bends and dips, with lots of individual sections to throw down before everything splits apart into a new sample to work. The best example being when the "Over and Over" redux "Shake a Fist" bizarrely cuts out to a sample from Todd Rundgren's classic Something/Anything? and is promptly swallowed by an infestation of wriggling, squiggling synth monsters, turning it into the band's most muscular jam to date. The near-perfect, videogamey single "Ready for the Floor" keeps that momentum going, and sporadically, a shuffle like "One Pure Thought" or the do-as-it-don't trance "Don't Dance" will pop your feet and hips out all over again.

But what makes Made In the Dark their best album to date is how great the ballads are, a trick no mere techno act was supposed to master. With respect to the absolutely gorgeous "We're Looking for a Lot of Love," and the respectably bluesy "Whistle for Will" hymn, top honors go to the lovely title tune, which may be about our parents having sex, or the Big Bang, or neither of those things at all, as Alexis Taylor can't help but write appropriately blank, dance-act lyrics even when he's serenading. But that doesn't undercut his (and Joe Goddard's) melodies, which, no matter what you've read, have eclipsed his witticisms.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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