How concrete are rankings and ratings? Not very. For example, remember when Pitchfork called Beck's Sea Change "self-absorbed murk" and slapped a forgettable 6.9 on it? Yeah, when they saw every other critic on the face of the earth calling it a masterpiece, they went ahead and threw it in their top 50 of the year and even put it at #82 in their best of the decade list. This wasn't necessarily damage control. Albums grow, tastes evolve, reputations are established--it happens.
(Seriously though, what kind of critic could give Sea Change a middling review in the first place?)
Anyway, I prefaced last year's results post with the following caveat as well, but let it be known that my rankings are but a snapshot. They'll probably reorder a bit before the year is out. So I thought that it'd be a fun exercise to look back at last year's IMM and compare the album rankings to my End of 10 list.
Here's how things shook out last May:
6. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
5. Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away
4. The National - High Violet
3. The New Pornographers - Together
2. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever
1. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Now let's have a look at the reordered list, based on their year end rankings.
N/A - Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
22. Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away
20. The New Pornographers - Together
18. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever
7. The National - High Violet
6. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
As far as the order is concerned, I wasn't too far off. The National, as expected, leapfrogged two albums during the late autumn months, which tend to be more conducive to the National's brooding style. Interesting that none of these cracked the top 5, although it should be noted that Phosphorescent's Here's to Taking It Easy (the unofficial winner) was fourth overall. Did these May albums suffer at the expense of their release date? There were plenty of newer albums to yank my attention away and consequently marginalize earlier releases. However, this was not the case. Only two of the top five (Arcade Fire's The Suburbs and Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest) were post-May releases.
My conclusion: last year's May tilted towards quantity and not quality, albeit ever so slightly. On the year-end list, the average rank for May albums was 12.83. And that's including Phosphorescent and excluding Band of Horses (which didn't even place.)
So what about this year? I fully anticipate a stronger showing, largely due to the fact that my favorites performed about as expected. Quality releases by bands I love are going to take priority over situations where one of those factors is missing. But hey, it'll be another seven months before I can make good on that prediction. First thing's first: the 2011 MAYhem results...
Right after this break!