The First Listens of 2012: What We Got Right, What We Got Wrong

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Yep, still terrible.
As evinced by my initial take on Tyler, the Creator's Goblin and my final opinion, a lot happens between one's first listen to an album and their final conclusion after taking it in several times. What I love about writing these features is that you get to read my pure, unvarnished thoughts about a record as they're forming, before any outer influence or inner readjustment can take place. Nevertheless, I still trust my first instincts a lot of the time; with all respect to my editor, I won't be checking back to see if Kreayshawn is still the worst thing I heard all year. (Hey, I at least thought "Left Eye" was innovatively tasteless). So here's the best and worst quick cuts of the year, the stuff I got wrong and the stuff definitely I got right.


The Best

1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Kiss

What I said then: "This album's remarkable adherence to tune and beat is starting to make me wonder about my avowed position that there's no guilt in pleasure. But I can actually feel my resistance to this album melting away."

And now: Right, I wasn't the biggest "Call Me Maybe" fan. But the other pleasure-gushers here have been defrosting my heart all year: "Hurt So Good," "This Kiss," "Tonight I'm Getting Over You," "More Than a Memory," and, lord forgive me, the truly massive "Good Time," Owl City be damned. "Call Me Maybe" is still a classic even if it's not my favorite. Damn near every second of this thing is the cold calculated pop factory at its warmest, gooiest, and most addictive. It's going to make my Top 10 because I've relied on it so much for relief from other new albums, and not ones at the bottom either.

2. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...

What I said then: "Is The Idler Wheel the best album I've heard in 2012? Probably not, though it does sound like the one I'll still be rooting for at year's end, after Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective have thrown their respective hats in the ring."

And now: Well, we all know what happened to Animal Collective. And Grizzly Bear got their requisite 9.1, but didn't exactly take over the world, did they? That would be Frank Ocean, who could be said to have killed indie rock just as R&B embraced it (and vice versa). Fiona no longer made the most acclaimed album of the year, which is perfectly fine because my opinion hasn't changed. It's a very good, exceptionally crafted and thorny record that (like all Fiona) I'm just not in the mood for all the time. It did remind me of the great tUnE-yArDs, though Merrill Garbus' sonics are oddly danceable and dense and have plenty to get lost in, whereas Fiona for better or worse, travels only one way across the ears. Nevertheless, she did a good, deserving job trouncing AnCo and Grizzly Bear, who could stand to work up some of that sex and anger.

3. Jack White - Blunderbuss

What I said then: "A neat little summum of a neat little album if nothing else."

And now: Pretty much the same. I didn't play Blunderbuss a lot, as I'm known to be averse to blocky blues basics, but whenever others did, I was pleasantly surprised that it held its own. And covering my favorite Blasters song was awesome.

NEXT: The Worst

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