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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
Four Tet
Everything Ecstatic
Domino Record Co.

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

June 27, 2005
Call me narcissistic, but if music was created to represent the personality extensions of the people responsible for writing it, then Kieran Hebden would be painting a very promising picture for himself. With Everything Ecstatic, his project Four Tet showcases traits that the average Joe can only dream of - charm, intelligence, composure and spontaneity, to name a few, as well an inherent confidence that allows Four Tet to explore the avenues it does, when it pleases.

Everything Ecstatic, as its title suggests, showcases Hebden's most consistently chirpy work to date. It boasts the asset of versatility, possessing the buoyancy and charisma of a distinguishable party album whilst remaining resistant to the usual temptations associated with the so-called "lap-pop" tag. However, unlike many modern producers, Hebden keeps his eccentricities subtle; while he appears to be branching out with Everything Ecstatic, he manages to draw ideas from sources external to 'the box' without over-complicating them, making the record widely accessible as well as understatedly clever.

Although Rounds was by no means a subdued record, it lacks Everything Ecstatic's natural confidence. Whereas Rounds would circle its own uncertainty, Everything Ecstatic celebrates senseless breakdowns and prolonged sequences of pure ambience and free-jazz experimentation. Part of its beauty resides in its balance: it embarks upon a multitude of musical paths, beginning with the monotone bass croonery of "Joy" and closing with the sparse gong-induced ambience of "You Were There with Me."

The record's second, and perhaps standout, track, "Smile Around the Face", could be a strong contender for single of the year. Built around a simple electronic drumbeat and a sampled Kayne West vocal track, it hops, skips and jumps, involving an array of recordings, instruments and sections before collecting and resolving. As far as modern pop sensibility goes, it is utterly charming. The excessive bleepery of "Turtle Turtle Up" and the colliding drum-tracks of "Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions" exemplify Hebden's fearlessness of risks, elevating Everything Ecstatic from its status as comprehensible to all-encompassing.

Hebden's attention to detail is perhaps Four Tet's strongest quality; he uses this to hang on to the attention immediately grasped by his songs' immediate euphoric appeal, making Everything Ecstatic a record that is endurable as well as catchy. Whether Hebden's musical confetti is a direct transmission of his character is neither here nor there, but nevertheless I can only hope that Kieran Hebden is as irresistibly friendly as his music suggests.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright



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