I should perhaps have noted earlier that, as I have every year since I started compiling this year-end tally as an, um, professional critic, my primary concern was place as always on the albums that moved me most over the preceding 365 days—the records I found myself coming back to again and again for actual pleasure.
Finally, I’ve come to the Top 20 for 2010. Drum roll, please…
20. The National, “High Violet” (4AD)
On their fifth album, the Ohio-to-Brooklyn transplants really connected with me for the first time. In the past, I’ve admired their corn-fed Midwestern rock more than I’ve loved it. Here, the injection of a hefty dose of dark atmospherics gives me the intrigue I’ve been missing in the past, while the rootsy sincerity is all the more powerful for the contrast.
Sometimes, crotchety ol’ Neil’s experiments fail miserably, and sometimes they succeed beyond all expectations.