Top 50 Songs of 2010 :: 40-31 [It's alright if you wanna come back]

40. Tallest Man On Earth - "Burden of Tomorrow"

In 2010 Kristian Matsson as Tallest Man On Earth, an unlikely Swede, so successfully tapped the American folk tree, the most common critical comparison was Bob Dylan. Perhaps a better precedent - and entirely more reasonable - would be Bon Iver, as shared makers of small, acoustic records that chart the depths of human sorrow with mournful vocals and little else. On "Burden of Tomorrow," Matsson's yelp and drawl sketch a universe full of metaphors rooted in nature. Perhaps with an eye toward Dylan and Vernon, he intones, "Rumor has it that I wasn't born/I just walked in one frosty morn." Surprise.

39. Wildlife - "Stand In The Water"

On one of the best debuts of 2010, Wildlife charged out of the gates with "Stand In The Water," replete with pounding drums and a unforgettable hook, "just as long as you're looking for me." This is all before the arrangement explodes into a sea of backing vocals and another assurance, "We're all going somewhere." It sounds a little like a more fully realised Wolf Parade demo, something absolutely going somewhere

38. Dead Confederate - "Run From The Gun"

A shabby chord progression and vocals that sound like they've been up all night before being recorded into a wax paper microphone are the backing of Dead Confederate's slow drive "Run From The Gun." The title lyric is sandwiched around the divine promise, "don't be afraid," while it remains unclear if this violence is real or imagined. The guitars project longing, the vocals agony, but the hook will stick in your cheek because it was built to do so.

37. Hooray For Earth - "Surrounded By Your Friends"

In 2007 it was fashionable to scream, "Where are your friends tonight?" Hooray For Earth offered an entirely optimistic response in 2010, with a chorus built on the title lyric and a church of chiming synths and swelling backing vocals. A cloying subject matter that never becomes cloying in practice as the band navigates this hopeful territory with aplomb and a knack for arty synth rock, like an indie rock Erasure. That is, hopefully, taken as a profound compliment.

36. Math and Physics Club - "Jimmy Had A Polaroid"

No band, and certainly no song, better captured the essence of a spinning, sunny summer than Math and Physics Club did with "Jimmy Had A Polaroid." The lyrics are built around a silly bit of nostalgia before the protagonist moved away. All that remained was this picture and these lost salad days spent getting dizzy in the park.

35. Glasser - "Home"

The stage name for Cameron Mesirow, Glasser delivered some combination of the industrial pop that has become currency in loft apartments and the cold, urban tribalism of label mates Tanlines. Mesirow's vocals emerge as the only source of warmth in the the freezing arrangement of xylophone and looping hand claps. Slowly, the sonics expand, becoming fully realized as "Home" swells behind her like the menacing storm front she alludes to in the song's first lyrics. She is gorgeous and haunting, as you might expect.

34. Northern Portrait - "New Favourite Moment"

Designed perfectly for a movie montage, Northern Portrait craft a slice of twee with tumbling guitars and a self-actualizing chorus. Left in the wake of a now defunct Lucksmiths, the band takes up the banner of shoe-shuffling, feel-good pop currently only rivaled by the Acid House Kings and Math and Physics Club in spirit and execution. Is it the Cure playing a Belle and Sebastian record or something less self-serious? They make no mistake, the answer sitting squarely in the title.

33. LESANDS - "Pretenders"

We saw LESANDS on two coasts and in two small rooms in 2010. One, a tiny art space in East LA and the other, a well-accented space in Park Slope, Brooklyn and each time their vibrating synthesizer anthems elevated the scene. "Pretenders" is their center piece, a pounding and buzzing dose of pop so relentless and infecting in its approach that you will have "roses, roses, roses ..." stuck in your head for weeks.

32. Magic Bullets - "Lying Around"

Magic Bullets delivered one of the most immediately accessible songs of the year on the yelping, Smiths-inspired "Lying Around." The lyrics trace the animative qualities of relationships, and the concurrent malaise in their absence. The guitars are playful and the bass line, frenetic. The final conclusion is a little slice of pop nihilism, "It doesn't mean a single thing."

31. The Vaccines - "If You Wanna"

The Vaccines are absolutely going to kill you in 2011, approaching US shores with as much unknown hype as any rock band we've seen since the early Arctic Monkeys singles in 2005. On first demo, "If You Wanna," the band etches their exit strategy for a failed relationship; just let her come back. It's alright if you wanna come back, they suggest, with something of a rye grin and no mention of what drove the separation in the first place. It's refreshing, a chorus this full of hooks, and unpolished and unconcerned with being either.

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