And now we conclude my top albums of the year that was started yesterday. There are so many albums that I never got around to listening to – if there are any you’d think I would enjoy, please leave a comment below.
There is a whole in my musical life that has been looking for a Grimes album to fill it. Thanks to Singaporean artist yeule, there is Serotonin II which more than scratches the itch. Every now and then I’ll find great video-game inspired tracks, but never a whole album like this one. My finding this album was pretty much down to chance as well, which just shows how much music is out there what we might love and never find – so thank you TinyMixTapes for giving me the album of swirling Final Fantasy and Grimes style music that made a last minute entry into my end of year countdown.
Top Tracks: Poison Arrow, Blue Butterfly, Pocky Boy
The position of this album is probably inflated as this Kpop album became the official album of my trip to South Korea – being played most nights as I was writing up what we did during the day. This isn’t even an album I heard about before listening, I just saw one of the band members acting goofy in a gif on Reddit and here we are. I still contend that ‘Sunrise’ needs to be used in an anime opening sequence, the chorus is just too perfect to not have something fantasy-based like Konosuba or That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime feature it.
Top Tracks: You are not alone, Sunrise, Memoria
To call this Jenny Hval’s most accessible album, whilst true, is a very weird sentence to write as this is still pretty out there in places. With ‘Ashes to Ashes’ she made something close to a commercial single – then included the sentence “like how I used to dream of fucking before I knew how”. This album is Hval’s meditation on love it’s effect on the environment around us both directly (in terms of resources) and indirectly. She enlists the help of three collaborators to bring this world to life, the title track being a direct conversation about two of their own perceptions on their place in the world.
Top Tracks: Ashes to Ashes, High Alice, Lions
After 22, A Million, anything less than perfection was always going to show a decrease in quality. At least for me anyway. Bon Iver’s back catalogue is beyond extraordinarily and, thankfully i,i is another worthy addition to the canon – even if I would rank it as his third best album. In his first three albums, There was a definite evolution and deconstruction in sound, but here we have an album where it feels like they’re going to take time to explore and broaden the soundscapes from the previous album. Considering my feelings towards his last release, you’ll hear no arguments from me.
Top Tracks: Hey Ma, Naeem, Holyfields,
Every Lana Del Rey fan has been waiting for this album. Up until now she’s been an amazing singles artist who made good (if a little long) albums. On NFR! everything has finally clicked into place and the promise she made with the release of double a-side ‘Video Games/Blue Jeans’ earlier this decade has been fulfilled. No one else does this melancholy old world California balladry quite like she does, and what’s great is that she’s done it on her own terms and given us plenty of joy along the way to her magnum opus.
Top Tracks: The Greatest, Venice Bitch, Mariners Apartment Complex
I’m kinda thrilled that this year I have more than one non-English language album, and this album by CHAI is a exuberant shade of batshit. According to Spotify, ‘Great Job’ is my most played song of the year – probably because it’s one of those songs that I have to listen to twice without fail. This is one of those albums that just brings you a smile to you face whether it be because of the maniacal laughter on ‘Great Job’, ridiculous brass sampling on ‘This is Chai’ or the bright synths of ‘Future’. Given the end to the year in UK politics, I’ve leaned on this album a lot.
Top Tracks: Great Job, This is Chai, Fashionista
When I first heard ‘Movies’ you could have broken a sledgehammer on the goosebumps that erupted. Same for the next few dozen listens as well. It’s beyond atmospheric and that voice. Wow that voice. Listening to this is like if the Carpenters went electronic and attended Julliard – the rest of the album, whilst not as strong as this smashing single, held up to the extreme amount of repeat listens with ‘Everyday’ and ‘Andromeda’ being the other obvious stand outs.
Top Tracks: Movies, Andromeda, Everyday
This year Andrew Bird, has carved out the top male spot in my (as usual) female dominated top listens of the 2019 and his work has never been too far from the play button. His knowing folk stylings that take on the world as it is today, along with his trademark whistling on beautiful tracks like ‘Bloodless’ and ‘Manifest’ kept me coming back for more and now that 2019 is over I look forward to properly exploring his back catalog in the beginning of the new year.
Top Tracks: Sisyphus, Manifest, Fallorun
As always seems to happen with my albums list, the runner-up slots are the albums with my Song of the Year and this year is no exception. Both ‘Red Bull & Hennessy’ and the title track have had regular plays this year to the point where I have ended up listening to one of them pretty much every day since the album came out. Good thing that it’s surrounded by what is Jenny Lewis’ strongest work yet, which is saying a lot.
Top Tracks: Red Bull & Hennessy, On The Line, Hollywood Lawn
What I love so much about music is that an album can just come out of left field and set the tone for the rest of your year. When I first listened to this album back int he summer it was to bolster the numbers on my list and yet I immediately realised that this was likely going to end up being my album of the year.
Great music shouldn’t just stay in your head, but it should also be able to make you feel and, sometimes, inhabit something more primal. That’s exactly what Aurora managed to do this year with an album that somehow contains so many multitudes that, like crystal, appears to find new facets depending on the season I listen to it.
Top Tracks: Dance on the Moon, Animal, In Bottles