2002 Top Five

Originally posted to Grapevine.com

A little later than most, but here goes (live albums not included):

1. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head

With their second album, I personally consider Coldplay to have grown up. It is a highly accomplished, coherent collection of crafted individual songs that has had this slot booked since very soon after arriving on my turntable, from which it's seldom been far for long. Lead vocalist, pianist and guitarist Chris Martin says he actually found it difficult to write the songs for this one because he was happy and unused to writing in that state - I think it came out rather well! The title track is also my favourite piece of the year.

2. Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

This could so easily have gone wrong. An album that consciously takes the best of the previous two and melds them together might instantly have disappeared through the trapdoor of self-derivation. There are so many blatant musical steals from Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun that it would be perilously easy to think Steven and chums had run out of ideas. Except they do everything better this time; certainly better than its lacklustre predecessor, still languishing on the floor next to the stools it fell between. In the end though, quality abounds - Blackest Eyes (though *very* close to being a cliched PTree opener: they won't get away with it again) and Trains start things in typically excellent fashion; the album then (surprise, surprise!) winds through some mood pieces, the best of which is Gravity Eyelids, before ending triumphantly with a quintessential quartet: The Creator Has A Mastertape is a masterpiece of Big Brother theme tune influenced high-speed trip-rock; Heart Attack In A Layby poignant and understated; Strip The Soul a classically twisted belter and Collapse The Light Into Earth is what SW spent half of Lightbulb Sun failing to carry off. Class.

3. Six. By Seven - The Way I Feel Today

An album recorded entirely without overdubs that sounds this good?? Remarkable. Particularly for the band who's live sound last time I saw them was so atrocious I walked out; one of the only if not the only time I can ever recall having done so (it was so bad it took me 45 minutes to realise they had a keyboard player!!). In some ways a strange mix of the melodic and the angst-ridden thrash, Chris Olley and co. alternate between the smoothness and depth of So Close, IOU Love and American Beer and the all-out thrash of such as Flypaper for Freaks and Bad Man. FfF has some of my favourite lyrics of the year but I can't find them on the internet, so you'll have to buy the album :-))

4. Clean - More Or Less The Truth

This Swiss-Austrian group, who've been working the scene around here for two years now, are capable of so much it must be difficult for promoters and producers to know how to pitch them. The album is sparser and oriented more towards the dance elements of their sound than I'd like - if the tracks were given a more rounded production (and included the stunning but recently penned Feed My Eyes), MoLtT would be up there at Numero Uno. Still manages to do the business with such as the opener, Stronger Man, Right Now, Game and Strange Journey being highlights.

Also has the year's best hidden track; then again, this is the only one of the five I have on CD, so not much competition there!! :-) Watch out for next year's winner of that award, which'll likely be the one on Twisted's album, i.e. the shouting match between our drummer and his missus that he kindly recorded on my ansaphone last Thursday :-)))

5. Halo - Lunatic Ride

A rather short debut from one of Bristol's hottest properties, Halo seem to have been watered down somewhat in the production, or perhaps they aren't really rockers at all?? Nah, I've seen them live - they can rock; must be the producer's fault :-) Side openers, Still Here and Sanctimonious (the single) are the standout loud tracks but there are some class feel songs on here too - Here I Am and Perfectly Still to namecheck the best.

And, no, I haven't forgotten Peter Gabriel's Up!! I've heard it and it didn't really leave any larger impression on me than any of his previous albums, I'm afraid; and the company I heard it in couldn't have been any more conducive to my liking it :-)) Apart from the jealous cat that is :-))

And I still think Vapor Trails sucks big d...