Best Albums of 2005
1. Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel
Depeche Mode is one of my all-time favorite bands. Their last album "Exciter" was somewhat weak in retrospect, for example weaker than "Ultra", because it had a number of fillers that are definitely not among their best songs. I think this time they have managed to produce an album that can be considered to be among their best. It took a time to grow on me, but that's typically a good sign. It's surprising that Dave Gahan's songs are among the best ones on this album, especially "Suffer Well" and "Nothing's Impossible". Another favorite is "The Darkest Star".
2. Rasputina - A Radical Recital
Another long-time favorite. I don't remember how I discovered Rasputina about almost ten year's ago. As far as I know, their records have never been officially released in Europe, so it was definitely a bit of an accident. This one is a live album, and a kind of "best of". I would love to see them live at least just once, it must be a great experience. Favorite songs on this album: "Rose K." and "A Quitter".
3. Paula - Ruhig Blut
This is a German band. Previously, they have made purely electronic music, a mixture between OMD, Erasure and Marianne Rosenberg (because of the very high voice of the female lead singer). Now they have switched to guitars and real drums, a combination that is currently very popular in Germany, but it works surprisingly well for me here. The lyrics are great. All the songs are very good, but maybe you can try "Ruhig Blut" and "Lied für Dich".
4. Wir sind Helden - Von hier an blind
Another German band which is actually quite popular in Germany, and they actually use that popular combination of new-wavish guitars. The previous album mixed this with some Electroclash elements, but here the electronic elements are more in the background. Recommended titles: "Echolot" and "Nur ein Wort". The single "Gekommen um zu bleiben" is actually the worst track in my opinion.
5. Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth
Nine Inch Nails have finally made a relatively straightforward album. In the past, they have always put a lot of work into new sounds and complex song structures, and therefore it always took them a lot of time to release anything. But it was always worth it. "The Fragile" is an excellent album. Apparently, they don't have that energy anymore - I recall reading an interview with Trent Reznor in which he acknowledged this. Nevertheless, "With Teeth" is still better than lots of other music that is being produced, and I really enjoy listening to it. In the beginning, I didn't like "The Hand That Feeds" at all, but I even enjoy that one by now. Other recommended songs: "All the Love in the World" and "Only".
6. Ministry - Rantology
This is a party album, containing the best songs of Ministry (only the industrial metal stuff) from their back catalogue in remixed versions. Only the live material (the last three tracks) wasn't really necessary. This is not an essential record, but great fun. The new versions don't add anything really interesting, but it's great to listen to the tracks in one row. The one completely new song is probably my most favorite track of 2005, called "The Great Satan". Also great: "Unsing (Alternate Mix)"
7. Kate Bush - Aerial
Great album, although a slight bit too esoteric for my taste. "King of the Mountain" is a great track and a great single. "Bertie" and "Mrs. Bartolozzi" get on my nerves, though.
8. Daft Punk - Human After All
One of the most intelligent and funny examples of deconstructed house music. It's hard to describe. For example, "The Prime Time of Your Life" has almost all the necessary ingredients to be a party/disco hit (which would actually repel me because I normally don't like such kind of music), but it completely (and intentionally) misses the important points. It's clear what it should have been, but I'm glad that it's not. ;) "Robot Rock" takes a 70's rock sample ("Eye of the Tiger", I think), repeats it to death, but always skips the second half. Again, you know that it should be there, but they intentionally have left it incomplete. What a joy! ;)
9. Autechre - Untilted
"Intelligent" techno at its best, and they keep getting better and better. Try "LCC" and "Fermium".
10. The Chemical Brothers - Push the Button
I was much more excited when it came out, but now it's just good. They make great music, but something just doesn't stick. Hmm...
11. Mu - Out of Breach (Manchester's Revenge)
A new discovery. Weird electroclash - even weirder than typical electroclash. Try "Out of Breach" (excellent!) and "Paris Hilton" (the song, that is ;).OK, that's it for the moment...