Dot writes: what is the reason for Best Albums of 20xx posts? Sometimes I think it’s to make me feel small. I looked at the list on The Quietus, which is a dead trendy website for cool persons, and even though their list is 100 albums long I think I’d only even heard of 15 of them – and that’s heard of, not heard. I couldn’t help feeling darkly, and, I hope, unfairly, that they were showing off.
Anyway, here is my list. There were a lot of Important Records this year that I didn’t get round to, but here are ten that have given me joy this year, and maybe you’d like them too. I’m not showing off. Honest.
10. Shura, Nothing’s Real
Slick eighties-style production, catchy melodies, but lyrics that talk about vulnerability and awkwardness. And she’s incredibly loveable.
9. Christine and the Queens, Chaleur Humaine
Elegant gender-bending pop.
8. Beacon, Escapements
I bought this subtle electronic album early in the year and have found myself repeatedly going back to it.
7. Case/lang/veirs, case/lang/veirs
I’ve only just bought this as I heard about it through the end-of-year list in The Guardian. This illustrates the positive aspect of end-of-year lists. A female folk-rock supergroup, the brainchild of k.d.lang, now on heavy rotation in my kitchen, which is a far more sweet and soulful place as a result.
6. William Crighton, William Crighton
Australian country rock, tough, bitter and tuneful.
5. Bell X1, Arms
Bell X1 write witty lyrics with a political punch – “Let’s ask what the markets would do / Cos markets have feelings too”, the second track starts – but they also offer melodies that hook you in and moments of melancholy romance, as in the gorgeous animated clip below.
4. Braille Face, Kōya
Electronic production and oblique lyrics come together in a beautifully atmospheric album. Listening to Tim Shiel’s podcasts about the Spirit Level label has made me feel involved in Braille Face’s journey into the spotlight, and I’ve found Kōya and the treasury of songs from which it was selected productive sources of ideas for my writing, but when it comes down to it the album is just good, and would be good without any of this other stuff.
3. J.Views, 401 Days
This is another album with an involving story. It was fascinating to hear and learn about the songs as they were written, through the DNA website. The final product is unashamedly sensuous, richly textured and enchanting. All the nice adjectives.
2. Beyoncé, Lemonade
I never thought I liked Beyoncé, but it turns out I do. Such a varied and powerful record.
1. Radiohead, A Moon-Shaped Pool
I wasn’t sure whether to put this or Lemonade at number one, but I think in the end I have to stick with my rock roots. It’s an album full of feeling but without a hint of easy sentiment.
Plus honourable mentions for:
Floex, Samorost 3 soundtrack
I fell hard for Floex this year, but for his oeuvre as a whole rather than for this soundtrack album specifically, which is why I’ve left it out of the top ten list. If I made a list of favourite tracks there would be several from Samorost 3 on it.
Arthur Beatrice, Keeping the Peace
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Ears
All Tvvins, IIVV
Bat for Lashes, The Bride
Colour Bomb, Colour Bomb