Albums of the Year (2017) – by Cal Byrne
2017 was a year of many very good albums, but probably few great ones. A lot of the big names who released records this year did so admirably, the Canadian contingent aside (if you’re ready this… sorry Drake). Special mention must also go to Four Tet, Migos and Thundercat who all narrowly missed out on inclusion, which they’re most likely gutted about! But hey, you can’t please everyone. And this list most likely won’t even please you. But before you ‘@’ us with your hate, take a deep breath, a large gulp of wine and remember the subjective nature of experience and the range of cat videos available to you at the click of a button.
So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 Albums of the Year!
10. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
There was a lot of cynicism surrounding James Murphy’s return as LCD Soundsystem. People felt cheated, betrayed almost. They shouldn’t have. This was a classic LCD Soundsystem record to add to an already formidable collection. So what if it sounded the same? That’s what you want, isn’t it? Some people …
Key track: Oh Baby
9. Alexandra Saviour – Belladonna Sadness
Alex Turner prodigy Alexandra Saviour sneaked under the radar somewhat in 2017 but her debut record was easily the coolest out there. With subject matters such as forgetting you’re wearing sunglasses to Cadillacs disappearing on the horizon, this was an LP straight from the rock ‘n’ roll playbook. Watch this space in 2018.
Key track: Mirage
8. King Krule – The OOZ
The man of many monikers created one of the most esoteric albums of the year but also one of its most interesting. The more troubled than usual troubadours’ iconic baritone brooded over these 19 tracks of deep sea jazz beautifully. The OOZ had its sophisticated moments (Logos) and its raw (Lonely Blue) but from start to finish it was easily the most captivating release of year.
Key track: Dum Surfer
7. Laura Marling – Semper Femina
The only one of the mid-noughties folk artists to retain any sort of relevance, Laura Marling brought out her best record in years. From lead single ‘Wildfire’, this sounded like a more relaxed Marling than we’ve been granted before, yoga instructor detour aside, and in love with music again.
Key track: Wildfire
6. Perfume Genius – No Shape
Mike Hadreas followed up the breakout success of Too Bright with another record of beautifully crafted pop melodies. No Shape tackles the big issues head-on, with Hadreas feeling it’s his personal duty to talk about his sexuality and struggle. The result of his transition to established artist is a more confident artist, not afraid to go for the big stadium sounds. We all thank you.
Key track: Slip Away
5. Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy
Vying for the crown of ‘greatest renaissance man of our generation’ with Kanye West, Tyler, The Creator brought out his fourth record this year, and his best since Goblin. Flower Boy lacks the anger of all of his previous work and surprisingly sees Tyler get in touch with his spiritual side. What normally would sound like a recipe for disaster ended up being one of the best of the year. Roll on November.
Key track: November
4. SZA – Ctrl
Irrational abhorrence to vowels aside, we all learnt a lot about SZA this year. Her debut album was one of the most honest records out there but, more importantly, also one of the best. Ctrl toes the line beautifully between pop and R&B and retains an integrity throughout. Expect to hear a lot more of SZA in years to come.
Key track: Drew Barrymore
3. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Kendrick Lamar caused a ruffle with the ‘two albums’ reveal but this was more an interesting aside than the elevation to God level that some of his more diehard fans would have you believe. DAMN didn’t have as lofty goals as To Pimp A Butterfly and felt closer to Kendrick’s first album in execution. There were some big bangers (HUMBLE, LOYALTY) but DAMN didn’t reach the same levels of either of its predecessors. And yet, it’s inclusion at number 3 in our chart tells you everything you need to know about how big the Compton rapper has become.
Key track: HUMBLE
2. Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer
2017 belonged to Stormzy in many ways. If grime could still be considered an ‘underground’ genre at the start of the year, it certainly wasn’t after the release of Gang Signs & Prayer. Stormzy took grime into the mainstream and nearly swung the general election for Jeremy Corbyn at the same time. If that isn’t influential, we don’t know what is.
Key track: Shut Up
1. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
Annie Clark confirmed her reputation as one of the most accomplished artists working today with her latest iteration of St Vincent. Gone was the choreographed live show and in its place Clark placed herself, reborn, as the lovechild of Prince and Madonna. The whole package surrounding ‘MASSEDUCTION’ was meticulously curated and has elevated St Vincent to a whole ‘nother level.
Key track: New York