Saturday, December 20, 2008

Best Albums of 2008: #10

10. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
Say Hey - 06/10/08

I'm a sucker for the singer-songwriter type. Not just any singer-songwriter, they have to be cut from that Dylan cloth: a wandering, heartbroken, downtrodden, worldly and wise troubadour. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson fits this description well, almost too well. Much has been made about his past as an NYU junkie dropout, living on the streets of New York which has almost overshadowed his work as a musician. In interviews, MBAR always seems uncomfortable talking about his past and attempts to shift attention away from his past and onto the music from his self-titled debut LP, which is a smart move because his music is almost breathtaking.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson was produced by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and Kip Malone of TVOTR and other members of Grizzly Bear contributed musically, and these influences and contributions are easily recognizable in the albums hazy, multi tracked fullness. The album focuses on the usual singer-songwriter topics of heartbreak and loneliness, but it is given extra gravity by the numerous illusions to drug abuse, contemplated suicide and the yearning for redemption. I know, this all sounds like a huge downer, which it really is, yet it is also incredibly compelling to listen to an artist struggle through addiction and come out of it, not with a story book happy ending, but with a sense of hopefulness. Highlights include: "The Ongoing Debate Bewtween Present vs. Future" which is drenched in distortion and really shows off MBAR's guitar skills; "Burified", the lead single off the album, which paints colour characters around a gorgeous hook; and "Written Over" which acts as a pseudo-centrepiece to the album, articulating MBAR's desperation and desire for a second chance almost perfectly. I guess it's sort of a heavy album, but it's also quite striking and stays with you long after it has finished playing.

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