Top 10 Albums of 2012 Revisited

Now, Now - ThreadsAs is my yearly tradition prior to posting my top 10 albums list, I look back at my top album from the previous year and tweak it with things I missed or ended up growing on me. Looking back on 2012, there’s one album that was on the list that jumped a few spots, and new entrants barely knocked out the previous slot holders at the list’s bottom.

The Original Top 10 Albums of 2012

1. Celebration Rock – Japandroids
2. Negotiations – The Helio Sequenc
3. History Speaks – Deep Sea Diver
4. Threads – Now, Now
5. Fear Fun – Father John Misty
6. The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
7. Tramp – Sharon Van Etten
8. Touch Screens – Erik Blood
9. On the Impossible Past – The Menzingers
10. North – Stars

The Updated Top 10 Albums of 2012

1. Celebration Rock – Japandroids
2. Threads – Now, Now
3. Negotiations – The Helio Sequence
4. History Speaks – Deep Sea Diver
5. Fear Fun – Father John Misty
6. The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
7. Tramp – Sharon Van Etten
8. We Don’t Even Live Here – P.O.S.
9. The Kaleidoscope – Lemolo
10. Visions – Grimes

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The Kaleidoscope – Lemolo

Lemolo - The KaledoscopeNever mind what the Eurythmics said in the ’80s. After listening to The Kaleidoscope, the debut album from Seattle duo Lemolo, it’s clear that this is what sweet dreams are made of. The lynchpin of Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox’s lyrical dream-pop is Grandall’s delicate coo. It’s as if she’s singing a lullaby to coax restless children to sleep. Her guitar playing never forces the issue, as her carefully selected notes seem to swirl while the duo’s looping keyboard drives each song forward. Even Cox on drums provides understated beats. On the rare occasion when she brings the noise (notably with the constant thumping kick of “Open Air”), her drumming doesn’t disrupt the album’s current.

It seems appropriate that Grandall and Cox became friends as kayak instructors; Lemolo is less about making hit singles and more about rhythm and flow, a cascading soundscape fit for lazy afternoons on Lake Washington. But don’t let the sleepiness fool you: Lemolo is everywhere this summer. Between high-profile opening gigs (for Sharon Van Etten next week), festival dates (Capitol Hill Block Party, Doe Bay), and sold-out release shows for The Kaleidoscope, the Seattle dream-pop duo is hard at work soothing our souls.

At times, The Kaleidoscope’s tracks veer dangerously close to sounding the same. Things drag on tracks “On Again, Off Again” and “Who Loves” because of lyrical repetition, but only if you take the songs on their own, and not as part of the whole. The album isn’t about a message; it’s about a feel. Even though Lemolo only offers one extended jam (the seven-plus minutes of “We Felt the Fall”), it’s clear that giving tracks room to stretch out and breathe is closer to the band’s natural form than the conventional three-minute pop song.

Review Score: 7.1

*Original version published on SeattleMet.com.*