Best Albums of 2009: The Forgotten

As I noted in Part Two of the Best Albums of 2009, I left a couple out, and reluctantly, but ultimately held them out after creating my list without them. These we can casually call "The Forgotten," but I want to stress that these albums have nothing to do with the terrible Julianne Moore film of same name from 2004. Essentially, this post will not end with an easy, hackneyed alien-menace solution to something that could have been a complex psychological issue disguised in a thriller's robes. In fact, there really won't be any complexity to this post at all, so the metaphor dies, writhing pathetically, there. But, really, this won't be like The Forgotten (2004) and I sincerely caution you toward experiencing the film at all.

There were two albums in particular (and of course, I'm surely missing another handful that were exceptional, but escaped my ears this year) that I felt honest to goodness philosophical lamentative angst about neglecting. They follow below:

The Forgotten 1: The Hazards of Love - The Decemberists

How could I forget this album? I wrote about it three (3) times in this very space over the course of 2009. The exceptional fifth full length from Portland's darlings, The Hazards of Love was a huge risk to take following the pop-commercial success of The Crane Wife and yet, Colin Meloy and dear friends crank out a high-concept rock opera without a single single. Going from easy radio-play tracks like "O Valencia!" and "Summersong" to an album that nearly demands continuous track 1 - 17 listening is bound to lose some of the fair-weather adopters. But this album is so amazing, well-composed musically and historically interesting as it binds fairytale sadness straight from the Bros. Grimm to anthem-rock that it should not be overlooked. High marks must go to Meloy for penning it, Shara Worden, Becky Stark and Jim James for their vocal contributions, and the great band of Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query and John Moen. This album has been absent from almost EVERY list, perhaps because of its March release, but I think it's because it never got a fair shake, as concept-albums sometimes don't. Seriously. How did I forget this in-fucking-credible album? If you see me around, just say "The Hazards of Love" and sock me in the face. Actually, let's watch the face. Maybe just a scowl in my direction will suffice.

The Forgotten 2: Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective

Another punch me in the face moment. Merriweather Post Pavilion TOPS many of the 2009 lists. It should have been included in mine, though I stand by my love of the Dirty Projectors. Animal Collective's latest is their most cohesive and amiable release yet. It's a mix of baroque-style pop played with samplers that makes it thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. The question left is where Animal Collective will go now. Having progressed to a complete sound with vocals and musical composition so intelligent and well-mixed can be difficult to replicate. While this is by majority an album heavy on the Panda Bear side of writing and design, it may indicate the dawn of exploring the individual members' interests and personal styles. No matter what, Merriweather Post Pavilion is easily a top 10 album of 2009, or in this case, it fits somewhere in the top 13. And thirteen is a nice enough number, so I'm alright with that. (And the optical illusion artwork is superb. Click the pic for a larger view and see how dizzy you get.)

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