My Favorite Albums of 2019
Better late than never.
1. Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride
For some reason, I can never listen to Vampire Weekend without picturing Connecticut prep schools. But the music is undeniable. Just timeless, Beatles-esque pop sensibilities. Frustratingly, as on Modern Vampires of the City, the production is occasionally spot on (as in Harmony Hall), but often borders on malpractice. They have a maddening tendency to ruin songs by throwing in strange effects right at the end — for example, the atrocious vocal effects on the last verse of Bambina. And the “boy” sound effect completely ruins the otherwise-gorgeous 2021 for me. I have a dream where one day someone goes through the mixes and just deletes the last month of messing around, letting the songs speak for themselves. Which they can.
2. Jenny Lewis — On the Line
It’s been 15 years since Rilo Kiley’s More Adventurous, and I certainly was not expecting to get into a Jenny Lewis album in 2019, but here we are. It’s a very LA album. I could do with a little less slick production, but the songs are first-rate.
3. Sturgill Simpson — Sound & Fury
Sturgill Simpson is a treasure. This is another left turn. The evolution from Metamodern Sounds of Country Music to A Sailor’s Guide to Earth to Sound & Fury is intense, and to travel this distance over just 5 years — and have each of the albums independently so strong — is remarkable, on the level of Radiohead’s The Bends-OK Computer-Kid A journey. The full-album music video is a trip as well.
4. Frances Cone — Late Riser
Like wrapping yourself in a wool blanket. Beautiful songs.
5. King Princess — Cheap Queen
This album is a lot of fun and a little all over the place, but most striking is how good a singer King Princess is.
6. The Tallest Man on Earth — I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream.
The voice always takes some getting used to, but the songs are very strong. My favorite Tallest Man on Earth album since 2010’s the Wild Hunt.
7. Clairo — Immunity
Beautiful and affecting.
8. Bob Mould — Sunshine Rock
Thrashing guitars, upbeat, Bob Mould. Truth in advertising.
9. Lizzo — Cuz I Love You
Not sure I need to say anything about this one. So fun.