Relaxer – alt-JThe cat’s pyjayjays. The dog’s cobblers. The bee’s knees. Listening to this album reminds me of the feeling of submitting my last assignment and finally being free for Summer (#diaryofawhitegirl). alt-J took their experimental tendencies a step further on this their third album, playing with a more folky feel yet somehow still remaining funky as hell and true to their sound. Their first album saw me in to my teenage years in 2012, and Relaxer certainly saw me out of them, ensuring I was grooving the whole way through my adolescence.
Best tunes: ‘3WW’ and ‘In Cold Blood’
I See You – The xxWhat constantly amazes me about The xx is that, despite their style of electronic minimalism being susceptible to dull ennui, without altering their sound every album that they release sounds as good if not better than the last. I See You has a slightly warmer, more danceable feel to it compared to their previous albums, but never to the detriment of their ice-cool personas. In a way that no other voices could, Romy and Oliver have the perfect subtlety (and damn sexiness may I add) in their voices to sing about the rawness and fragility of being in love which this album expresses.
Best tunes: ‘Say Something Living’ and ‘I Dare You’
Process – SamphaIf anyone can listen to ‘(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano’ without shedding even the teensiest tear then, in the words of Ms Granger herself, you have the emotional range of a teaspoon. Sampha bears his soul for this album and it’s the courage with which he presents such raw emotion that makes this album so staggeringly beautiful. As he describes himself, the album is full of ‘peaks and valleys’, as we move from piano ballads to more beat-driven electronics, all melded together by his fragile and delicate voice. If a song has never made you cry before, watch his performance at the prestigious Mercury Prize Awards which, unsurprisingly, he also won.
Best tunes: ‘(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano’ and ‘Blood on Me’
A Deeper Understanding – War on DrugsFor some reason, I found The War On Drugs’ previous album (‘Lost in The Dream’ – 2014) hard to get on board with. I think I was going through an old-school Black Eyed Peas phase so it didn’t really work in conjunction. However, their latest album is a shimmering, therapeutic guitar masterpiece with anthems that would certainly not have sounded out of place on a Springsteen album. Melancholy lyrics are transformed in to a surprisingly uplifting tone, helped by the wholesome texture that lends the album its warmth. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to the 80’s-young-lovers montage in your indie film or something to feel nostalgic to, look no further.
Best tunes – ‘Thinking of a Place’ and ‘Holding On’
At What Cost – GoldLinkConsidering 2016 was such a great year for hip-hop, 2017 was a bit of a step down. With Lil’ this and Yung’ that filling up the charts with trap music flatter than a stroopwaffle, GoldLink’s album managed to preserve the true sauce of the genre. Providing us with a contemporary take on authentic 80s funk/soul and 90s gangsta rap, Goldlink has definitely acquired a license to groove. If you’re fans of KAYTRANADA (who features on the track ‘Meditation’) and Anderson Paak then this should be right up your street.
Best tunes: ‘Hands on Your Knees’ and ‘Roll Call’
Big big love,