The year so far has blessed us four albums destined to be classics and vying for album of the year.
At the moment I'm listening to Nick Cave's majestic Push the Sky Away. I think this is the year's best offering so far - though there is stiff competition. Cave has let out the visceral, animal side of his music in his side project Grinderman, which I haven't really warmed to. It leaves him free to produce atmospheric meditations on life, faith and hope with a buttoned up restraint that you think might explode at any minute but is kept beautifully, achingly in check. It makes for a wonderful journey through Brighton and Cave's netherworld to the title track that is a muted rage against the dying of the light, the need to keep living, creating, singing in the face of our all-too obvious mortality.
First out of the stocks in fact was Eels Wonderful, Glorious, lighting up a frosty late January with Mr E's sometimes angry, often gentle, always prescient musings on the absurdity of life in the modern world and the saving qualities of love and faithfulness. He's so good that his song writing seems effortless, one great riff here, a hook to die for there, a lyric that stays with you for the day here and there and everywhere.
Depeche Mode's Delta Machine, out last month, sounds at times like a southern revival, all speaking in tongues and faith snatching us from oblivion. Coming after last year's collaboration between Dave Gahan and Soul Savers, this album makes you wonder what's going on in these Essex boy's souls. here's a whole ton of reflections on life and faith and love. Wonderful tunes, great vocals, catchy rhythms - all the ingredients of a classic Depeche Mode album are present and correct.
And then there David Bowie's unexpected comeback album; unexpected for two reasons - no one knew it was coming and no one could have guessed that he still had such a great collection of songs in him. The Next Day is the true follow up to Lodger, a ghost ride through the Berlin of the late 70s and early 80s that spawned Bowie's great trilogy. The songs are a dizzying display of hooks, gorgeous vocals, great guitar licks and some pretty wonderful saxophone from the dame himself. Every time I listen, I am surprised at how good it is. Half of me hopes it's his last album ('cause I'm not sure he'll better it) and the other half hopes there's twenty more songs of this quality awaiting release in the autumn. Who knows with the elusive boy from Bromley!
If you haven't added any of these to your collection, you should.