Surely we could have rounded it off to 10.
Yet here we are, rating the top nine albums of the year. An uneven number for an uneven 2017. If it were just up to me personally, this list would actually be one album long, starting and ending with Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. If you don’t agree that Kendrick’s album was the best release of this year, I’m not really interested in debating it with you because if Republicans on Facebook have taught me anything, it’s that you can’t argue with stupid. With that in mind, we’re gonna forgo the classic countdown to the top spot and just kick this thing off with the best album of the last decade.
Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
What can really be said about this record that a), hasn’t been said already, and b), could possibly convey the importance of this record better than Kendrick’s own lyrics? Nothing really, but here’s a quick musing from me. I’m a privileged white girl from an unimaginably safe part of Australia, and I still feel like this record speaks to me, because without sounding like a total kookmeister, it speaks to all of humanity. Also, listen to this song. Listen to that calculated, articulated, designated rage. Now get out of his way and stay there. GOAT.
Kinda hard to follow up Kendrick with anything other than more Kendrick, but I guess alt-J are as good a runner-up as any. The opener to Relaxer, “3WW”, is actually so faultless it’s a wonder they bothered to make the rest of the album at all. But they did, and what a blessing to bestow upon us. The English trio released their third studio album right slap-bang in the middle of the year, with each single accompanied by an epic music video like the one above.
Phoenix, Ti Amo
Everyone always wants to listen to the music that’ll move them emotionally, but what about the stuff that’ll make them move physically, y’know what I mean? French four-piece Phoenix released a record back in June so drenched in sugar-coated electronic dance pop it makes my jaw tingle just thinking about it. In a year so full of doom and gloom, we need records like this to seek refuge and shake off our woes. Ti Amo sounds how Piña Colada tastes.
Mac DeMarco, This Old Dog
Sometimes I think Mac’s whole kooky-weirdo-stonerschtick, while lovable, detracts from the depth of his music and the sensitivity of his lyrics. This Old Dog, his third album, is such a giant leap in maturity from his previous releases. It’s reflective, honest, and at times kinda brutal, but Mac’s devotion to melody manages to keep each song from sinking into a hopeless abyss. Our boy’s all grown up.
St. Vincent, MASSEDUCTION
Look, I’m still loling from when I heard a radio presenter announce that Harry Styles was the new Freddie Mercury, but I just saw a comment on St.Vincent’s YouTube that got me thinking. Someone called her a female Bowie, and though I loathe to make such grandeur comparisons, this album brings her one step closer to reaching such heights. Really knocked it outta the park with this one, Annie.
The National, Sleep Well Beast
Is it okay to admit that I’m a little disappointed in myself for including this record? The National just feel so safe. Like, sure, they keep making consistently great records, full of songs that make you ache and break, but when are they gonna change up their recipe? When the mid-west band of brothers announced this, their seventh album, word on the street was they’d gone electronic. But word on the street was bullshit. Sleep Well Beast uses the same lamenting-into-my-whisky formula Matt Berninger’s been using since 2001, and that’s fine with me because it works so well. Like, who else can pen a song so catchy you’re singing it on your morning run, but simultaneously makes you wonder how you will live another second in this prison of a body chained to a cold and lonely heart? Exactly.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers
What a band name, what a sound. Just sit back and sip on this for the next 15 minutes. The Canadian collective marked their sixth full-length release this year, 20 years since their debut, F♯ A♯ ∞, pronounced ‘F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity.’ Godspeed are true innovators of experimental sound, and their ability to lead you on a sonic journey without teetering off into self-indulgence makes them maestros of their genre.
King Krule – The OOZ
King Krule, whose real name is Archy Ivan Marshall, is 23-years-old. He looks nothing like he sounds, and sounds nothing like anything else out there. He’s always been this uber-talented enigma of an artist, and this record just solidifies that. Like, what even is it? Is it rap? is it jazz? Is it blues? Is it…screamo grime? Kidding. It’s King Krule. And it’s incredible.
Aldous Harding, Party
Oh man, the goosebumps. New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding is a force of nature. If there were a ghost who haunted you but never hurt you, who scared you but also confided in you and comforted you in times of heartbreak, Aldous would be it. Oh, hold on. I think I just explained the plot of Casper the Friendly Ghost. Still. Listen to that voice! Aldous the friendly ghost!