What a year for music 2017 has been. This list is by no means in order, mostly because choosing 10 albums was hard enough let alone having to order them. So, here are the 10 albums that I enjoyed the most during the past year.
1. Lorde – Melodrama
Oh wow. Lorde finally returned with her second album, 5 years after her debut and she definitely delivered. The album is, dare I say, a bit of a work of art. Listening to it I felt so many different emotions, sometimes at once. The tracks have the ability to make you dance while the lyrics make you cry all at once, and I would argue that this is quite a skill. Being 20 when the album was Melodrama, (she did her first album when she was just 16), you can definitely hear the increased maturity in the songs tunes and lyrics. The album is certainly much more emotional, sometimes heartbreaking and always very very accomplished.
Top tracks: Writer In The Dark, The Louvre and Liability.
2. Haim – Something To Tell You
Once again this was another second album I’ve been waiting for patiently for a while (strangely, also 5 years…I sense a conspiracy?). Luckily, The Haim sisters have managed to do it again and create an album that I love from start to finish. In 2017 I even had the opportunity to meet these fabulous ladies in person, and it pretty much made my year. This album is something else – infectiously catchy songs with the trademark Haim sound, as well as some more experimental sounds woven throughout. If you haven’t heard any of the tracks yet, then more fool you as virtually every one is flawless.
Top tracks: Right Now, Little Of Your Love and Ready For You
3. Kenrick Lamar – DAMN.
Kendrick Lamar’s 4th album arrived with a bang. It is a no holds barred experimental exploration into hip hop and rap, and oh my did it pay off. Production contributions come from people such as James Blake and BadBadNotGood, but the sound is still very much Kendrick. Despite being a shorter album than usual, it certainly doesn’t feel like it, and many of the tracks will leave you reeling. Not just that, but it was awarded the accolade of Billboard’s Number 1 album of 2017, so that can only be a good sign…
Top tracks: HUMBLE., LOVE. and GOD.
4. Mr Jukes – God First
Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman strikes out on his own as Mr Jukes. The debut album God First is quite unlike anything else I have heard this year. It sounds very much like someone still experimenting and finding their sound, but this is by no means a bad thing. The alternative mix of funk, old school R&B and hip hop is reminiscent of Mark Ronson circa 2007, which certainly bodes well for the future.
Top tracks: Grant Green, Magic and Angels/Your Love
5. Rex Orange County – Apricot Princess
Rex Orange Country was an unexpected part of the top 10, having only recently discovered him. With a smooth, jazzy voice like Jamie Cullum and the raw, original lyrics reminiscent of early Kate Nash, this 18 year old has it all. The album is jam packed with woozy lo-fi songs and wry lyrics about love, life and youth. I expect big things from this artist in 2018.
Top tracks: Sycamore Girl, Untitled and Never Enough.
6. Drake – More Life
What would a 2017 album list be without More Life (or without Drake in general)? After last years massive phenomena Views, it didn’t seem like Drake could really go further up – and yet he seems to have done it. The album broke several streaming records, even some of his own, and sustains his reputation as a truly universal artist. With influences from Hip hop, dancehall and grime, each track flows to the next so smoothly. Not only that, but his massive roster of contributors such as Sampha, Skepta and Giggs certainly says a lot about the quality of the album.
Top tracks: 4422, Get It Together and Portland
7. Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Semper Femina is a latin phrase that Laura Marling has had tattooed on her leg for the past 6 years. You can really tell when listening that she really does seem to have a deep personal connection to this album. With every project Marling seems to mature even more, and stir emotions that feel new and undiscovered. The tracks on this album are all so varied, but all are serene, heartbreaking and with that personal feel. Now on her 6th studio album, it really does seem that Marling simply cannot put a foot wrong.
Top tracks: Soothing, Wild Fire and Always This Way
8. Gorillaz – Humanz
It says a lot about The Gorillaz that while this album for me was one of their weaker ones, it still was good enough to make it into my top 10. With this being their first album release in 7 years, everyone had very high expectations and, for me, Humanz definitely delivered. While it took me a few listens to really get into it, and while not many of the tracks would really be described as singalong like some of their previous work, the overall project is engaging and fresh. And with contributors like Grace Jones, De La Soul and DRAM, where can your really go wrong?
Top tracks: Charger, Andromeda and Ascension
9. Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s gone
I was lucky enough to see Loyle Carner two times in 2017, and each was as magical and vibrant as the last. His sound is natural, putting a new relaxed spin on hip hop and mixing it with hints of jazz and soul. One of the best things about Loyle Carner are the lyrics, talking about family, friends, love and everything in between in the most candid of ways. This debut album has already been nominated for Mercury prize so take from that what you will.
Top tracks: Damselfly, Stars & Shards and NO CD
10. The Big Moon – Love In The 4th Dimension
Recorded over just 12 days, this debut album retains a raw and intuitive sound which is rather rare at the moment. Another Mercury Prize nominated album, each track is energetic and wonderful, with a new spin on the indie alternative rock genre. It may sound ridiculous, but you seem to be able to hear how much fun the band have together in each recording. Not only that, but the band are a joy to watch play live so if you get a chance to do so in 2018, grab it with both hands.
Top tracks: Cupid, Formidable and Silent Movie Susie