THE MODERN WORLD HAS DECLARED THE LP DEAD – WHAT A LOAD OF TOSH. WE LOOK BACK OVER THE TREMENDOUS MUSIC OF THE YEAR, FROM POP, METAL, DANCE AND MORE, CHOOSING THOSE ALBUMS WHICH HAVE MADE THEMSELVES GREAT.
BRING ME THE HORIZON – THAT’S THE SPIRIT
Renouncing their metalcore foundations of heavy guitars and deep screams has rendered Bring Me The Horizon unstoppable in recent years. With a concoction of soft synths and catchy melodic choruses, their fifth studio album, That’s The Spirit, stands as an embodiment of their recent chart success. Fusing mainstream with the lugubrious is no small feat, nor is it something fans of their heavier records are inured to, but with the courage of their convictions, Bring Me The Horizon have fearlessly created an aural experience unlike anything in their back catalogue.
DAISY HEARN @
CHON – GROW
Impressionistic and crafting emotions with light and space, Grow is a masterclass in the modern math rock movement. The amount of sheer variety places this album above its peers. Standout tracks include ‘Story’ with its waterfall-esqé arpeggios, or ‘Can’t Wait’ which uses subtle and borderline lounge vocals to paint a vivid narrative. A huge chill out album yet with undeniable personality there is nothing quite like Grow out there today.
JACK WEBB @
CITIZEN – EVERYBODY IS GOING TO HEAVEN
From pummelling, full-band post-hardcore in the form of ‘Cement’, to effects-laden shoegaze-like sections, all decorated with vocals from Matt Keres, who shows a variety ranging from an almost-Jesse Lacey (but better) on ‘Dive Into My Sun’ to an absolute engulfing of the listener on ‘Stain’. A colossal step up from their incredible 2013 Youth debut, Everybody Is Going To Heaven sees Citizen nosedive into numerous new territories and return absolutely golden.
BILL WATERS @
COMMANDO, GANTZ & KAHN – VOLUME I
When Deep Medi confirmed the collaboration between three of the hottest producers in the scene, everyone knew it was going to be fire. Such anticipation for an album can often be its downfall, but the trio have exceeded expectations. Middle Eastern influences run deep throughout the album, creating a truly atmospheric journey. Add flutes, crunching beat patterns and haunting vocals to the mix and you’ve got a masterpiece. Turn the bass up on this one.
WILL GARNETT @
DANCE GAVIN DANCE – INSTANT GRATIFICATION
As their first record in eight years to feature the same set of vocalists as their previous, Dance Gavin Dance have shown a strong sense of self-awareness that encompasses all that was great from their past, assuring that their sixth album is one of their best. Their unique guitar-driven sound infused with post-hardcore has been shaped and tightened, producing some of their best tracks to date including the haunting and ambitious ‘We Own the Night’. Line-up changes aren’t about to shake them any time soon.
KAITLYN ULRICH @
DEATH GRIPS – THE POWER THAT B
With moments of ‘80s hardcore, harsh noise, IDM and classic progressive rock, The Powers That B is Death Grips’ most varied record, which is understandably symptomatic of a double album that was released in two parts over the course of 10 months. First half, Niggas on the Moon, is unsettling, synthetic and exposes MC Ride’s perversion and cynicism. Jenny Death takes these concepts further, replacing drum machines and samplers with live instrumentation, reaching a cathartic high on the penultimate track ‘On GP’. Misanthropy has never sounded this loud.
DANIEL COOK @
DON BROCO – AUTOMATIC
Don Broco released their second album this August and it pushes the boundaries of modern alternative rock. Automatic took British rock that one step further – keeping to their rock roots but also infusing dance and funk elements to form a perfect balance of rock riffs and infectious choruses you can’t help but sing along to. Instead of making the same album twice, Don Broco focused all their energy into making something completely new and unique and pulled it off excellently.
ÉIMER HARPER @
EARL SWEATSHIRT – I DON’T LIKE SHIT, I DON’T GO OUTSIDE
Living under the world’s microscope has only left Earl Sweatshirt in distress, but witnessing the L.A.-based rapper blossom into a reclusive prodigy has been a blessing for fellow misanthropes everywhere. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside weaves chilling angst, claustrophobic paranoia and bottled frustrations in and out of solo night drives and smoky studio sessions – sinister bass and industrial beats stomping alongside every syllable. Earl pushes us further away, but nothing is more beautiful than the raw, uncompromising humanity that he shows us as he slams the door. If your soul’s intact, let him know.
KIALHA NAKAHARA @
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING – GET TO HEAVEN
Unrivalled energy, blistering passion and euphoric beats throughout. Everything Everything have the ability to exude sometimes eerily bizarre and intense imagery, battling such topics as global crisis and politics that contrasts the synthpop sound they trademark in a way very few bands can. Opening track cries out: “So you think there’s no meaning/In anything that we do”. The four-piece defy this by showing there is is nothing but meaning throughout in this album.
ANDREW SHELLEY @
FLORENCE & THE MACHINE – HOW BIG, HOW BLUE, HOW BEAUTIFUL
After taking a well deserved break, this year saw the explosive return of Florence Welch and her almighty Machine. Coming back after a break up with her ex, this album takes you on an unexplainable, overwhelming emotional rollercoaster. From love to loss to complete and utter self-destruction, this is an album that needs to be taken seriously lyrically. This is Florence’s most well-written and mind-blowingly produced album yet; it’s difficult to determine whether she could top this one.
KENYA SCARLETT @
GALLOWS – DESOLATION SOUNDS
One of few albums this year true to the term ‘punk’ because this record honestly doesn’t give a shit what you think. If you go into this expecting it to sound like anything the band have previously recorded then you’re going to have a bad time but if you go into it completely open and willing to embrace all, it’s aversions to expectations then you’ll fall in love with it. This is what the most important British band in contemporary punk are doing now, deal with it.
JACK KING @
HASLEY – BADLANDS
Halsey follows her momentous ascent to fame on the back of five track EP Room 93 with her unapologetically honest, charismatic and lyrically captivating debut album, Badlands. The 21-year-old goes far beyond your everyday, manufactured and generic collection of pop songs to create something laced with individuality and depth. Her bold themes are direct and authentic, leaving the album to take the form of a window into the often dark aspects of the singer’s life. All that, set to some of the catchiest synthpop of the year.
ADRIANNE GORON @
JAMES BAY – CHAOS AND THE CALM
James Bay’s Chaos and the Calm is an album containing heartfelt emotions. In the opener ‘Craving’, the listener is enticed by the fast-paced movement of the song, the lyrics evoking the conflicting thoughts of leaving his hometown. James Bay is a heart-on-sleeve, versatile musician and it’s certainly evident in this album. It’s liberating with soulful tracks like ‘Incomplete’, and heartwarming, vulnerable ones like ‘Let It Go’. The album offers raw, relatable emotion.
PAIGE LOYDEN @
JAMIE XX – IN COLOUR
On the surface, many tracks are just enrapturing, hypnotic cuts of prime electronic music with a sprinkling of melancholy – see steel drum lead ‘Obvs’ and ‘Hold Tight’, which feels like you’re drifting in and out of an amphetamine dream. Delve deeper past the pop-crossovers and you see that In Colour captures elements of a now faded club culture. Jamie xx’s sampling choices – for instance using an unaired Radio 1 jungle show for the hook on ‘Gosh’ – culminate to make the album a supreme cultural hallmark.