10. Everything Everything – Get To Heaven
The art pop quartet’s third full length release sees their most experimental and diverse effort yet. Get To Heaven is a juxtaposition in the most positive light, seeing a ranging sound through the twinkles and sparkles of synthetic drum machines and keys diverting to deep base and heavy drum patterns. The record is firmly three times the charm, and like Lady Gaga once said “My ARTPOP could mean anything” – whatever Everything Everything’s Art Pop is, it’s stunning.
9. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
To Pimp A Butterfly could have been a lame, safe follow up. Instead it tackles integral racism in America, staying true to yourself by turning down stardom and…talking to Tupac. Seriously though, Kendrick is a man who knows where he stands in the music world. He knows he’s one of the biggest artists in the world and he uses this position for good, asking for gangs to reconcile, calling out rappers for being shams and telling the listener to love themselves.
8. Drenge – Undertow
A sinister – yet slick stormy racket of a second album. Not to be misled by the Loveless brothers seemingly cherub faces, Undertow burst out of creation this year brandishing its rough, grungy substance. ‘The Snake’ was fierce, harsh – unrelenting, whilst ‘Standing in The Cold’ stood true to its name with raspy, chilling melodies. It even featured the instrumental ‘Undertow,’ featuring trembling bass. Undertow is a nebulous portrait and by far the best work Drenge have produced thus far.
7. Beach House – Depression Cherry
Beach House demonstrate perfectly why dream pop got its name, because this album can only be described as dreamy. Although the fuzzy vinyl cover may have been the reason for purchase, I was pleasantly surprised when I first listened to it; the softness and sweetness of this record hooks you in and carries you along to the end, with a seamless quality. Depression Cherry is the kind of album you share with your friends, save it on their Spotify for them so they get drawn into it just as you did.
6. FIDLAR – Too
The power to relate is an inspirational one, and FIDLAR make use of it effortlessly in their second album Too, appealing to an ethos combining skate culture and confident punk rock. Sublime riffs and somewhat radio-friendly but insanely catchy choruses; each track that flies by could easily function as singles. Singer Zac rightly defends the band’s progression from the drug-fuelled-all-partying FIDLAR of 2013 to a band shaped by desires to find an identity, a sweet spot between indie and punk crowds, picking up a music producer on the way: “Change is good, especially in our music and in punk.” It’s different, for sure, but the record couldn’t get any more authentic- infused with the emotions and anger of a broken generation putting up with anxiety and reckless abandon. There’s not just heart on Too- we’re let into the world of ‘generation why’ where blood, heartbreak, shame and regret are pulled in to every garage-punk anthem in the record. “It’s still three chords and truth, man. That’s all it is.”
5. Jamie xx – In Colour
It’s hard to fault Jamie Smith when it comes to his skills as a producer. Many felt like working with The xx was limiting his range, musically, and whilst members of the band make appearances throughout, In Colour not only stands on its own two legs, it stands out as an absolute juggernaut of a record. The brilliant thing about In Colour is how difficult it is to pigeon hole. It’s been described by some reviewers as a rave album and some tracks like ‘Gosh’ could imply that it is such an album. However each track can be interpreted in so many and the term “electronic” is so vague that it’s almost insulting.
4. Foals – What Went Down
What Went Down is a slice of everything that Foals have done so far, merging the wit of the debut, the warmth of the second album, the rage of the third, and the clear insanity of their current sound. With highlights lead single ‘What Went Down,’ swirling ‘Night Swimmers,’ and electronically twisted ‘Birch Twisted,’ the album is different to anything that Foals have created before, however still feels inherently like a Foals album, and quite clearly is.
3. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
It is a rare occasion with a band as universally acclaimed as Wolf Alice for reality to surpass their hype, but in their phenomenal debut My Love Is Cool, they rip their own buzz to pieces and build something far more beautiful from the wreckage. The beauty of Wolf Alice is their ability to go from quietly, tenderly heartbreaking (see ‘Silk’) to abrasively loud ferocity (‘Giant Peach’) in the space of a heartbeat. Its nuance is what makes this album arguably one of the debuts of the decade, always enthralling, raw and compelling, free of pretence and affection.
2. Tame Impala – Currents
In the third LP from Tame Impala, Kevin Parker cements his status as one of the greatest musical talents of the 21st century. That one man could have single-handedly created this masterpiece from the writing of the final mixes seems impossible, such is the gorgeous, atmospheric wonder of the album. Current sees Tame Impala dabble in the more electronic sounds, most notably in the shimmering keys of seven minute singe ‘Let It Happen’ and the spoken word ‘Past Lives.’ It’s an album of reflection and regret but always propelling towards a brighter future.
1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Our number one pick of the Top 50 Albums of 2015 is indie rock singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett with her debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit! Released at the beginning of the year on her own Milk! Records, she tantalises with her thick Aussie drawl and tongue-twister narratives. There isn’t a single excuse for why you shouldn’t check out this album (and FYI, putting her on a pedestal really doesn’t disappoint).