The Top 25 Albums of 2011

12/21/2011 4:01 AM |

Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Key Track: “Vomit”

I don’t know what it says about the rest of the year in music that our choice for the number one album was in so many ways an anomaly. As production values got more and more questionable throughout indie rock, Girls frontman Christopher Owens went and made one of the most tastefully expensive-sounding recordings we’ve heard, frankly, in decades. As the guitar fell further and further out of favor, Owens held onto his for dear life, even throwing in the relatively blistering hard-rocker “Die,” returning the favor to the growing ranks of people who’d thumb their nose at such a thing. As personal narrative came to be frowned upon, Owens boldly refused to remove himself (or at least the idea of fully formed, soul-baring main characters) from the equation—he’s still mostly interested in writing about the well worn subjects of love and loss. As the focus shifts toward generalized vibes and barely hinted-at moods, Owens continues to prize melody and words above all else.
All combined, this could make for a record that seems hopelessly outdated, but only if you buy into the notion that art can in fact be outdated, as opposed to merely effective or ineffective, which you shouldn’t. And you don’t have go making any of those silly “He’s a formalist! And a wonderful one at that!” arguments either. Owens communicates his ideas brilliantly, using careful, subtly poetic language and a wonderfully expressive instrument of which he displays something resembling total mastery. To simplify it seems a shame, but to over-complicate seems an even greater one.

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