PRINT December 2003

Music: Best of 2003

Dennis Cooper


1. New Pornographers, Electric Version (Matador) If I were God, every song on this furiously insinuating CD would go multiplatinum.

2. Iron & Wine, The Creek Drank the Cradle (Sub Pop) Samuel Beam’s baroque, fastidious, heartbroken, secretive art-folk songs are indescribably beautiful.

3. Wire, Send (Pink Flag) This is probably ineligible for the 2004 Turner Prize, but it should win anyway. Easily the best British artwork of the year.

4. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Pig Lib (Matador) Malkmus discards the last vestiges of Pavement’s characteristic sound and reimagines early-’70s psychedelic proto–heavy metal as a kind of limber, poetry-laced, neoprogressive riff rock.

5. Super Furry Animals, Phantom Power (Beggars XL Recording) SFA’s contention that wealthy melodies, immaculate sound, and shifty song structures help the politics go down has never been more lushly borne out.

6. Guided by Voices, Earthquake Glue (Matador) Ultragenius Robert Pollard is the most infinitely talented and productive contemporary American artist, period. Includes 2003’s savviest pretty song, “The Best of Jill Hives.”

7. Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (La Face) The massive popularity of these thrilling experimental artists is a real mind-boggler. This two-CD set manages the rare feat of being both the most utterly self-indulgent and nonstop inspiring album of the year.

8. Ariel Pink, House Arrest (ballbearings pinatas) Super lo-fi, frenetic, pop music–based sonic installation art by LA’s newest underground sensation.

9. Deerhoof, Apple O’ (Kill Rock Stars) Fussy, angular guitar work, violent drumming, and precious, noodling vocals make for a weirdly magical combination.

10. The Postal Service, Give Up (Sub Pop) Subtly complex, high-IQ, quasi–radio friendly electropop froth from glitch maestro Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) and Death Cab for Cutie’s soupy-voiced Ben Gibbard.