Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Top 50 albums of the 00s - #44, José González: In Our Nature

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

José González is a bit of a patchwork quilt of a human being. His parents are Argentine, but had moved to Sweden before he was born. His musical upbringing was wholly within post-punk and hardcore bands, yet he likes to claim those Latin roots as influences. His thus-far two album solo career doesn't particularly sound like any of the above, yet you can kind of feel the background if you squint really hard.

One of my favorite restaurants here in Argentina has the same six albums on shuffle at all times. This is one of them. I never notice when the songs come on until they're halfway through. They fit right in there in the background before you realize they're already arrived and are surrounding you. The album is an apt soundtrack for virtually any activity. Most of the songs are simply José and a guitar, but it never feels like folk music. In fact, it's closer to adult contemporary, but his fragile vocal delivery makes every track personal.

This album centers around its second track, "Down the Line." González has a tranquil, easy way about him. But despite that flowery attitude, there's a hidden edge to this one. Yes, it's still just him murmuring and the guitar settling in somewhere between plucking and strumming (plumbing?), but there's the feel of a punch. Perhaps he blows his wad early in the game, with all the following songs falling way behind in terms of dynamism. But they flow well from that peak, like a the late spring snow of a mountain melting and trickling its way downhill.

33 minutes is barely an album. It's especially barely an album when you're talking about the best of a decade. But when a record is this relistenable, you don't really care that it's so short. It just means you're that much closer to giving it another spin.

Previous Entries:
#45 - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
#46 - Caribou - Andorra
#47 - Mastodon - Crack the Skye
#48 - Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
#49 - At the Drive-In: Relationship of Command
#50 - Rival Schools: United by Fate

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