10-6 | 5-1
To quote the irascible Isaac Brock: In 2017, “opinions were like kittens. I was givin’ them away.” It seems we all were. Whether by Tweet, FaceBook post, Instagram pic or Snapchat, everyone from the President to that asshole in the cubicle next to you had something to say about their status and that of the world. And although our opinions differed dramatically on the reasons why, most of us can agree that 2017 felt like we had all gone to hell in a hand basket.
But as usual, music saves us. It saves me anyway. As often as our collective sense of normality strains at the seams and society’s traditional comforts unravel like old, tuckered-out sweaters, there will always be remarkable musicians making albums and songs that speak to us in a timeless, irrefutable fashion. It reminds us that human excellence (in some shape or form) is not just attainable, but, in fact, still inescapable in our weary world.
And so, in keeping up with trend of passing judgment, here’s ten artists/songs/albums that made my 2017 a bit more palatable. I’d like to say this is less a “best of” list and more of a “time capsule” of 2017, but who am I kidding? I’m far too well-versed at opinion-making to pretend otherwise.
Enjoy these kittens.
10) The xx
“Say Something Loving” – I See You
“Say Something Loving” is vintage xx — two estranged souls grasping for one another and just missing. But it’s not so much in the dark anymore; I See You, aptly named, cracks the door open and lets in the light. And as the band’s somnambulent sound has evolved (see the upbeat horns on club banger “Dangerous,” and brighter, more recognizable samples on “Hold On”), so too has their emotional sentiment.
“Say Something Loving” isn’t the sound of hungry neediness anymore. It’s a request between partners who know that love is still there, they just need to remind each other of it. There’s something both comforting in the song’s request and profoundly sad in its delivery — that the drift between lovers has become so commonplace that survival of a relationship can rest upon something so perfunctory. It’s these emotional chasms that Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim navigate with the nerve and aplomb of deep cave divers.
Lifted from a sample of 70’s soft-rockers the Alessi Brothers, “Say Something Loving’”s shimmery hook builds into a gorgeous melodic glitch, like a broken record forever repeating, even as Croft and Sim engage in the forsaken dance of long-time, oscillating lovers. Like the rest of I See You, it brings us in whisper close, then pushes us, gently, blissfully away.