(feat. track – “Waste Myself”)

This Providence are another band I wrote pretty extensively about recently, so I’ll try to save you a rehash.  I concede that “Who Are You Now?” is a flawed album, primarily in the production department.  It’s a more grandiose album than its recording seems to have allowed for, with a diversity of styles – from Foo-Fighter rock to skittering dance-punk to acoustic balladry – that are done no service by the flat, low energy recording.  So how, especially in a year where kindred musical sprits have released some truly exceptional albums (The Summer Set’s “Love Like This” and A Rocket To The Moon’s “On Your Side” both just missed making this list), does an album this flawed rate so high?

Quite simply, it’s the songs.  Of the 13 songs on “Who Are You Now?”, about 8 of them have gotten stuck in my head at one time or another this year to the point where I had to run to my iPod and listen to them just so I could function normally afterward.  There’s a subtlety to the hooks, where you never quite realize the barb’s been sunk ‘til it’s too late.  “Waste Myself” was my #2 most played track last year on iTunes, and it wasn’t from listening to it on repeat for a night, it was from a series of “OMG I need to hear this right now” moments spread across months.  And “Sand In Your Shoes” is the most gorgeous ballad I’ve heard in years.

I was a little dismissive of “Who Are You Now?” when it was first released, but I keep finding myself coming back to it.  Of all the albums on this year’s list, this is the surest bet for “album I’ll still be listening to in five years’ time.”