I can’t possibly have a view on the best albums of the year, I haven’t heard all of them.
There were something like thirty thousand albums released and apart from Elton John nobody’s heard them all. At a guess I’d say I’ve heard perhaps one percent of them.
The boss says I must write my list though, so what I can do is bang on and on about the ones I’ve enjoyed most. They may turn out to be the best by happy coincidence. This is them:
SBTRKT – SBTRKT
This record was practically on the list the first time I heard it. At the time I wrote: “SBTRKT is our new favorite artist by a country mile, the most original producer in the UK across a number of genres, and his eponymous LP should win the Mercury Music Prize hands down, but for the inconvenient snag of a lack of nomination (due to its release coming too late we assume and hope).”
You can tell I like a record when I succumb to hyperbole, but I still agree with everything I said and my prediction that the record wouldn’t leave the SGTMT stereo for some time was correct. A collision of electronic wizzardry and Sampha‘s soulful vocal delivery, along with guest spots from Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano, Jessie Ware and Roses Gabor make SBTRKT a rewarding record with so much to choose from it’s hard to pick a favourite.
SBTRKT also translated effortlessly into a fantastic live show (leading to one of our most popular reviews, and my favourite post) which means it gets bonus points.
Listen to Wildfire and Trials Of The Past and buy it here:
The Antlers – Burst Apart
They’re not a straightforward band, The Antlers, they’re complex, and I like complex bands.
Burst Apart is full of melancholy, graceful and tender melodies. The band evoke proper depth of feeling with every song, through the little details, so whether it’s the subtle organ in No Windows or the understated trumpet and female vocal refrain towards the end of Hounds, each song has something which grabs you. It’s such a restrained record, and so retains a delicate beauty which is rare these days.
There are shades of Elbow, hints of The Dears, but The Antlers are writing songs both those bands would dream of calling their own.
I fell in love with Beirut after catching them at a live outdoors show supporting Arcade Fire and I realised I’d been missing out on a wonderful band that I’d not paid enough attention to. The Rip Tide was released around the time of those riots that took place mainly in my home of London, and it was the perfect antidote to what was happening outside the window.
The Rip Tide is full of lovingly crafted songwriting. It’s a pop record really, but it shows a Beirut ageing well, maturing without losing any of the gracefulness or melody that makes them so irresistible. I could listen to it all day and not get tired of Zach Condon‘s voice or arrangements. Listen to Santa Fe and Port of Call and buy it here:
The Roots – undun
undun was at an immediate disadvantage to making an appearance on an end of year list. It would be hard to tell if any record released just two weeks ago was just a good one or whether it’s one that’s actually going to stand the test of time. I reckon undun is very good and so it’s going in!
undun is a concept album, chronicling the life of fictional character Redford Stephens (1974-1999) and featured a cool short film that made up the promos for the singles.
The Roots make hip hop sound so effortless, with rapper Black Thought for me one of the finest in the business. Listen to I Remember and Make My and buy it here: