Most Overrated Albums of 2011

Let’s get the negative lists out of the way first. As 2011’s Listmas continues, there are a plethora of albums ranking high on prominent lists that frankly don’t deserve the accolades given. I’ve limited my selection to five of what I feel are the most overrated albums this year. Granted, there are several more I feel could have made the cut (Wilco, Smith Westerns, Kate Bush, Kurt Vile, Karl Maus, Juliana Barwick, The Antlers, Wild Beasts, Wild Flag, Nicolas Jaar), but for the sake of not being TOO snobby about it, the following are the ones I’m most sick of hearing about.

Disclaimer: “Overrated” doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t enjoy the album, it just means I apparently didn’t enjoy it as much as the rest of the world.

Bon Iver – S/T

To give this snoozer sophomore slump comparable praise to the brilliant For Emma, Forever Ago is blasphemous. And now it’s got apparently unwanted Grammy recognition behind it. In between producing a classic and smoking weed with Kanye, Vernon apparently decided anything second-rate he put out would receive “album of the year” nods, and he was so very, very correct.

James Blake – S/T

Let’s be clear: there is STRONG potential here. The highs are high, but the lows are dreadfully low. “Limit to Your Love” and “The Wilhelm Scream” are examples of the genius amalgamate of noise and melody, beauty and chaos, that Blake has to offer. The rest? A collage of ideas tinkering for mood over melody. I look forward to the next try, when this up-and-comer will hopefully embrace his more structured side.

Foster the People – Torches

Foster the People are the MC Hammer of the new electro-indie sound – they took a fresh sound that had already earned popular recognition (MGMT, Passion Pit), watered it down with repetition, trite lyrics, and gimmicks, and became an overnight success story. If I wanted to hear this derivative mess in any fashion, I’d take Adam Levine to a karaoke bar and make him sing “Kids.”

Destroyer – Kaputt

Really? Is this album as great as everyone claims it is? For that matter, is ANY Destroyer album as great as everyone claims it is? Chalk it up as another project that will always make the year-end rounds regardless of output. There’s nothing criminal here, just formulaic and overdone, and it gets pretty samey about halfway through.

Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

Daniel Lopatin’s better project, without a doubt, is Ford & Loptain; here, in OPN, he embraces his ambient, “Brooklyn” tendencies, and the result is a journey into atonal slumber. The “trying too hard” distate is overpowering throughout, with mindless repeated samples amongst a directionless hiss and unfocused arrangements. After dropping the fantastic Channel Pressure this year, one has to wonder what’s the point of this particular mess?

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