2010 album of the year

The best album this year (IMO) is one of the most fun.

(This is going to be controversial)

What an odd year 2010 has been.

On the one hand there have been plenty of good albums and plenty of albums released by favourite bands. It’s very unusual for The Divine Comedy, Belle & Sebastian, Ben Folds AND Clem Snide to release albums in the same year, let alone new albums by Sufjan Stevens, Gorillaz, The Bees, Badly Drawn Boy, Daft Punk, Chromeo etc ad infinitum.

On the other hand, although it is generally accepted that there have been a very substantial number of ‘good’ albums, I feel that there’s relatively few that I would classify as ‘great’ or even ‘brilliant.’ Of that list of artists above, most of their new albums have been pretty good, some have been disappointing, a few have been near unlistenable.

Consequently, choosing a single favourite album hasn’t been that much of a challenge. Despite having only been released in the past three months to somewhat middling reviews, there’s one album I’ve listened to dozens of times and enjoyed from start to end.

Ladies and gentlemen, my album of 2010 is the Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice album I’m Having Fun Now.

It’s a difficult album not to enjoy, frankly. Eleven tracks of old fashioned boy-girl guitar pop-rock, devoid of the electronic bells and whistles that seem suddenly in vogue. Lots of harmonies between the two, lots of call-and-response (always a favourite, that), lots of tracks that sound like, y’know, sculptured three-minute songs with a theme, a narrative and - lordy! - a catchy bit that’ll be stuck in your head for the next five weeks.

I guess what I like most about this album is that it seems at a ninety degree angle to popular musical opinion. If you’re making an album in the loosely-defined indie-pop-rock genre in 2010, there’s an unwritten rule that you either have to overlay electronic twitchy synths at every opportunity or else be completely stone-faced, maudlin and sincere. There’s no doubting the sincerity of Jenny and Johnny - lots of the songs feel very heartfelt - but the joy of I’m Having Fun Now is the obvious joy that they had making it. It’s light and breezy and poppy without being flippant, examining the dizzying highs and lagging lows that being in a relationship holds. It is everything a good album should be.

And what an album it is.

Don’t be put off by the 3/5 reviews that popped up around its release in October. Track it down and enjoy it.