What is it that makes us want to deconstruct art by units of time? Lists. We love making them. We love arguing over them. And here, on the verge of a new decade, we’re in a position to do the same again. What were the best albums of the past ten years?
Here at AD, we started talking it through and decided we weren’t going to add to the cacophony of lists being put out by various music pubs. There are enough of those. Rather, we elected to let our four main writers have a chance to write about any and all of the albums they felt shaped the last decade.
From the beginning of October through the end of December, Monday through Thursday, AD will feature a post, or posts, from a particular writer detailing their favorite albums of the decade. On a given week there might be one album a writer talks about, there might be six, but they’ll get a chance to have their say on everything that comes to mind. Our hope for you, the reader, is that you’ll jump in with your comments on the album selections – tell us why you agree or disagree – and also be exposed to some albums that you may have missed over the last ten years. Now, as the decade starts to wind down, let’s celebrate.
Person Pitch is perhaps the only record on my Decade list that cuts me less now than it did on its first few listens. True, I’ve not pieced together every tiny sound (and there are plenty) on the album, nor have I opened up every vocal harmony. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that it’s possible to hear the entire record—Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) packed so much into Person Pitch that dominating it and claiming to fully “get” it is mostly hubris and maybe a bit of self-delusion.
Person Pitch sounds like everything. To some, the upstroked guitars and vocal stacking in “Take Pills” make it a consummate summer record. To others, the city clacks and tracks, the sampled noise and confusion make it a winter record, the kind of thing you curl up with in front of a frosty window in order to be reminded that something exists beneath the snow.
But it’s hard to put Person Pitch in service of anything. It’s hard to label it as music for any one season, or for any one emotion—which isn’t to say that it’s some sort of universal record, the album so powerful in its empathy that it rends all other comers useless. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. Person Pitch is so completely a part and extension of Lennox’s heart and mind that it remains entirely his experience. While this could make the record feel cold and dead, Lennox’s vision is so broad and, yes, all-encompassing that it’s hard to turn away. There is serious warmth and depth to this record, from the self-exhortations of the still-great “Comfy in Nautica” (“Try to remember always / Just to have a good time / Good time / Good time”) to the melting church bells of “Good Girl / Carrots”. The twelve-minute soundworld of “Bros” has always drawn the most attention, but it’s the melodies that I keep coming back for—the snappy sun of “Take Pills”, the stumbling sway of “Good Girl”, the young prayer of “Ponytail.” While the mostly-sampled composition makes Person Pitch feel like few other records, the record’s pop sensibilities are what make it listenable.
Somehow, though, it feels less capital-I Important now than it did when I first heard it two winters ago. The scratched samples of obscure surf songs, the swirls and laughs and confusion of structure—these have all faded. Person Pitch no longer sounds revolutionary, though for my money I don’t think its sleepy collages have been topped. No, now it just sounds like a great pop record, a forty-five minute gem of substance backed by serious style. As NPR alluded to in their decade-end list, Person Pitch is, at its bare bones, the record of a singer-songwriter. That narrative closeness and personal expression not only separate Person Pitch from the experimental pack but keep it playing two years down the line. words/ m. garner