I have to admit that I was beginning to think that this year was going to be a less than vintage one musically. To date, two of my favourite albums of 2008 have been `The Age of the Understatement` by The Last Shadow Puppets and Goldfrapp's `Seventh Tree` both of which are very nice records but not really groundbreaking. The only really classic album of the year so far is the gloriously wonderful third album by British Sea Power which started the year promisingly.
However, today I received two new albums which are so good that they have spurred me into writing my only eulogistically non-crypto posting of the year so far. Brian Wilson's long-awaited new album appears to be fantastic by anyone's standards - but when one considers that he is in his mid sixties, and has suffered from schizoaffective disorder for much of his life, it is remarkable. I have liked most of his output since the beginning of his return to form 20 odd years ago with his eponymous first solo album. Things have meandered from good to mediocre (usually the former), but about four years ago a reimagining of the legendary lost Beach Boys album `Smile` polarised his long standing fans. Was it good? Was it brilliant? Was it a rip-off by members of the BB cover-band The Wondermints who had basically co-opted an ageing loony into making their career?
I loved it, but was still uneasy. The follow-up Christmas album did nothing to allay that unease. But this - the first bona fide post-Smile album proves that Brian Wilson is still what we all had hoped - a giant of what Gram Parsons called `cosmic American music`.
The other fantastic new album is Wilderness by Brett Anderson. I have always been a big fan, but I felt that he lost his way somewhat during the latter days of Suede. His reunion album with Bernard Butler had its moments, but it wasn't until last year's self-titled debut solo album (my favourite record of last year) that he proved (to me at least) that he could still really cut it. The follow-up album which I heard for the first time today is not as immediate, and is a far more intimate and confessional affair, but it is so good that I have a sneaking suspicion that it will eclipse its predecessor in my affections before too long.
So 2008 is not looking too bad, and there are stiull four monhs left...