Last year was such a complicated year musically, that I thought it would be a good thing to share my top favorite albums from the year.
Dark Horse by Devin Dawson:
I’m not picking this just because he happened to be my co-worker 10 years ago. We weren’t ever that close! ha But his album is expert country without being sloppy. I don’t really like country lately because it doesn’t always sound like this. It’s variable and actually pretty good.
Honey by Robyn
I’m going to be honest, most of the time, I’m kind of hit-or-miss with Robyn. I know everyone always goes on-and-on about how great she is, but sometimes she just gets too out there for me. In fact, Vanessa Carlton covered “Call Your Girlfriend” this year which I actually think is much better than Robyn’s original version… But Robyn’s new album is tight, quick and really focused. I quite like it.
Caution by Mariah Carey
I know, what crack am I smoking… but you know what, she knocked this out of the fucking park. Look, Mariah needed a good album, her last one was fine but completely unmemorable. Just like Robyn’s album, it’s short and gets the message across quickly. It has callbacks to her best material without sounding like it’s rehashing old sounds. It’s actually a pretty great Mariah album and really embarrasses other singers that came out this year with inconsistent albums (Ariana Grande’s abhorrent Sweetener album isn’t on this list)
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships by the 1975:
Their last album (with the title that is too long to type out) was absolutely incredible. They took their best ideas from that album and turned it into an entire album (there’s some dancehall, free jazz, and more random sounds crammed into this). It’s not as consistent, sonically, as the the last album, but it’s still perfectly written. It’s surprising when artists can write with consistent excellence and this album beautifully showcases that even if it does get boring once or twice (but that’s only because of how incredible the last one was).
Bloom by Troye Sivan:
I know, I talked about this album too much last year… but it’s so good. I’ll be honest, halfway through the year, I started to lose my faith in it. That duet with Ariana Grande was really dull (I know it sounds like I have a vendetta against her, but she just made some really boring music this year), but the rest of the album really pushed me past and even got me to like “Dance To This”. “Bloom” is such an incredible song (I think it’s the best song of the year), actually nearly all of them are great… “Dance To This” is the only one that I really didn’t feel when I first heard it. I think it was great to hear an album that I understood… it was really gratifying as a music listener.
Icarus Falls by Zayn:
With the exception of the 1975, every album on this list is short and tight, focused and quick. I used to extol the virtues of long albums, but they don’t always work, Hell, sometimes even the short ones don’t work. Zayn’s album is 29 songs. It’s sprawling and beautiful. People have picked out specific songs thinking they’re directed at so-and-so or a backslap to whatever, but the album actually has a cohesiveness that is surprising for one that’s so long. That song is part of a larger story that has nothing to do with whomever you think he’s talking shit about. He tackles toxic masculinity, embracing fragility, remaining strong and finding love. It’s seriously an epic album. I will say, his music videos aren’t very good (he has this weird obsession with constantly wanting to be a character in Scarface), but the music is excellent.
So that’s it. I couldn’t even find 10 good albums this year. Kylie Minogue’s album was the most awful thing she’s ever put out. Alice In Chains put out a fine album but I haven’t sat with it long enough to really have a solid opinion on it. Eminem’s album was surprisingly good, but it’s not my cup of tea. So really, this was it.
Oh, David Bowie posthumously re-released a re-recorded version of his 1987 album, Never Let Me Down. Bowie hated the album (he thought it was too 80s), so musicians he worked with before his death, with his blessing, got together and redid all of the music with a more modern spin. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve heard… and even though it sounds like a completely new album, it’s actually 30 years old. So cool.