Best Albums 2007 (6-10)

10. Soulja Boy–

This kid’s bubblegum rap commits to its repetitive, dumbfounding simplicity with a focus you’d all admire if it sold fewer records. Not to keep mentioning his critics, whose own arguments are simpler and more repetitive than any of these beats or rhymes, but let’s face it — Soulja Boy wouldn’t be half as much fun if he didn’t annoy petty aesthetes who think rap is fucking jazz or something, because then his music wouldn’t have succeeded on its own terms. Which is, yes, to piss-off old folks of all ages. He fills in the gaps around the transcendent “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” with touches of brilliant just-enough-ness: the recycled “yooooou” of “Soulja Girl,” the teen-only fascination with gadgetry “My Sidekick,” the gross-out coinage “Booty Meat.” Did he create the timeless art to which future generations will return? Who they?


9. Against Me! — New Wave

It’s heartwarming, in our hyper-knowing age, that accusations of “sell out” can still resonate with at least one cloistered subculture, but Tom Gabel makes an unconvincing poster boy for crass commercial calculation. Not only does the earnest bleater consider Butch Vig the key to mainstream rock success (in 2007!), but he considers mainstream rock success the key to controlling the media (in 2007!!) “White People for Peace,” which doubts the efficacy of “Protest songs in response to military aggression” while still singing them, apotheosizes the heroism of this bullheaded ambivalence. If Gabel didn’t have a prayer of reaching the kids in a world that considers Green Day “important,” that doesn’t undercut the message — or the medium.


8. The Apples in Stereo — New Magnetic Wonder

Like the steampunk paraphernalia of The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone, the power pop minimalism of Velocity of Sound, or his Powerpuff Girls affiliation, Robert Schneider’s newfound ELOisms operate as an organizing principle rather than an aesthetic. Schneider’s Beatley knock-offs leapfrog effortlessly past his competition, because they’re not mere historical re-creations, but rather the best musical form for his willed optimism to take. Like his guitar pop itself, that sunny futurism is purposely back-dated, rather than naïve and received, and that deliberateness makes it braver and more necessary than it could ever have been in the ’60s.


7. LCD Soundsystem–Sound of Silver

James Murphy’s keynote mood is elegiac–sometimes literally (the cryptic “Someone Great”), sometimes figuratively (the aging scenester’s lament “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down”), sometimes musically (the pop-Reichian masterpiece “All My Friends”). Even his anthems haunt the best part of the night–near dawn, when everyone’s weepy in premature mourning over the still-lingering party. A Gen X overachiever (and ashamed of it), Murphy’s message is that he’s not so sure that he hasn’t outlived his moment even as it’s begun, or that life isn’t better in Ibiza or Berlin, or he’s not totally wasting his time or ours.


6. Miranda Lambert — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Whether earning her title by cock-blocking a man she no longer lays any claim to or nestling a twelve-gauge in wait for some abusive bastard, Lambert doubles-down on your standard-issue Nashville revenge fantasy so vehemently that Carrie Underwood may as well be singing about her stuffed animal collection. Not only does Lambert write ’em good (usually with help from Travis Howard), she knows how to pick ’em–who’d have expected that Gillian Welch had an alcoholic barnburner like “Dry Town” in her back catalog? And for balance, she regrets her pride (“More Like Her”) and her lust (“Guilty in Here” without subduing either. Dear Nashville: This sold. A lot. More please.


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