Wednesday, January 27, 2010

17. Rounds – Four Tet (2003)

If I was ambitious enough to attempt a Top 100, 50, or even 20 Songs of the 2000s list, ‘Hands’, the first track off Rounds would most certainly be on it. In its carefully oscillating melody, those shuffling beats, and how it all assembles right in front of our ears, ‘Hands’ is a perfect song. What gives Rounds the distinction of being a near-perfect album is that the nine songs which follow ‘Hands’ are nearly as good, from the mandolin-trance of ‘Spirit Fingers and blues-guitar riffing off sharp beats in ‘She Moves She’ to the pounding kick-drum of epic ‘Unspoken’. In traditional Hebden fashion, he always offsets a record’s most heartbreaking moment with an adventurous one – in Rounds’ case, ‘As Serious As Your Life’ – which rollicks through funk-inspired bass, hip-hop stutters and, of course, a ton of well-woven samples, organic instruments and melodies to keep your pulse racing.

When Bruce Springsteen - the Boss for crying out loud - plays ‘Slow Jam’ over the house speakers at the close of each show, you know you’ve crossed a significant threshold, and Rounds will rightly be remembered as one of the decade’s most approachable and enjoyable electronica records.

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