(feat. track – “Swim Down” [spotify])

I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time is a shining example of a very rare phenomenon: it’s an album that could never top this list, even on its best day, and yet I would find it conspicuously absent if I didn’t include it in here somewhere. The full length debut from rapidly-ascending English emo-rock* quartet Moose Blood, I’ll Keep You In Mind is as deeply flawed as it is accomplished – often simultaneously. That friction makes for a fascinatingly compelling listen, one that kept pulling me back in throughout autumn, even as I was trying to figure out if I actually liked the album.

I mean, I think we can all agree that a lyric like ”she wears hats above her ears / oh god, I want her here“ is some Prince-level purpleness. And yet, if it sticks in your head for three weeks straight, like “Kelly Kapowski” will, well then vocalist Eddy Brewerton is clearly doing at least one of his jobs with exceeding competence, even if he’s straight-up ignoring the other one, no?

That’s just one small example, but it sums up the entire experience of listening to I’ll Keep You In Mind concisely and accurately. Even when they’re getting everything wrong, Moose Blood get it wrong so rightly. The baldly apoetic language-bombs; the solipsistic sadboy misogyny; the laser-targeted Your Favorite Weapon-meets-Deja Entendu composition; the show-your-work calculation of Brewerton’s lyrical references to Dashboard Confessional and Nirvana: I’ll Keep You In Mind tickles each and every early-00’s emo pleasure center like it’s running down a checklist, and while that might sound like a gross approach to the sensual arts (because it is!), it still feels awful good.

The result is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in an ill-fitting hashtag and sold to kids in crewnecks, and for the life of me I can’t figure out if I hate it or if I really, really like it. I think maybe the answer is “both.”  If anything, I’ll Keep You In Mind is a great demonstration of the principle that love and hate aren’t opposite ends of one line after all; rather, they are parallel lines, lines which often – but not always – move in concert. And if this list is a ranking of the albums I loved in 2014, well, the fact that I hated it too doesn’t wave my love for it away.

Besides, let’s face it – Nevermind still blows me away too.

*Label No Sleep Records’ website makes the laughable claim that the band’s sound “harks back to the glory days of Deep Elm Records and mid 90′s emo.“ I understand that right now #emorevival is the phrase that pays, but these guys are aping Brand New and Taking Back Sunday and Armor for Sleep, not the Promise Ring. Moose Blood are clearly reviving an emo, but it sure isn’t that  one.