Since I’m probably never going to find the time to do proper reviews for all these albums now 2015 is over, I figured I’d put them all up here with just a couple of sentences each. I slightly underestimated how long it would take to write twenty album reviews in the space of a month, and to be honest I just ran out of steam with so much writing. So sorry for anyone whos actually reading these!
I’ll be doing this again for 2016, but this time I’ll be writing the reviews throughout the year so I can post them every day of December leading up to christmas. That way I don’t have to cram writing these into every minute of free time I have after work.And it’ll be a good way to keep me writing throughout the year.
OK – lets countdown my remaining favourite albums of 2015:
#6 Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
Father John Misty’s second album was a heartwarming, honest and hilarious record that I found myself returning to perhaps more than any other album last year. It’s bright, lightly psychedelic folk instrumentation proved to be endlessly inviting, and even on the 10th, 20th, 30th listen I was still discovering new lyrical gems.
#5 FKA Twigs – M3LL15X
Twigs pushed her sound into new directions on this EP, combining alternative R&B with elements of IDM, trip hop and art pop to create something truly unique. Much like it’s cover, M3LL15X was dark, alien and sexy, sounding like nothing else. Twigs’ most mature release yet.
#4 Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs EPs
Nicolas Jaar’s fantastic EP series, Nymphs 2, 3 and 4, which released thoughout 2015, proved to be my favourite electronic releases of the year. Taken as a whole they constituted an albums length of heady, experimental techno and house, with each disc exploring a different aspect of the sound. Perhaps the best of all was the sparse, melancholy and dreamlike Nymphs 2, full of inscrutable samples and stuffed full of ideas.
#3 Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
Where previous Julia Holter records have perhaps been easier to admire than to love, Have You In My Wilderness pulled back the curtain on the woman behind some of the decades most instriguing experimental pop music. This was a record full of personality and achingly beautiful arrangements. A modern chamber-pop classic.
#2 Joanna Newsom – Divers
How does Joanna Newsom follow up a career-defining triple album that is, in my opinion, the greatest album of the century so far? With Divers, yet another classic from the lady I firmly believe is the greatest songwriter of our time. On this album the instrumental pallette was expanded to include synthesizers and even electric guitars, and yet Newsom manages to bend every instrument here to her mystical purpose. Her lyrics are spellbinding throughout, as she turns her expansive imagination away from love and meditates on the eternal theme of time. In the process, she has created yet another album that will be remembered long, long into the future.
#1 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
I’ve sometimes wondered what it must have been like to be a music lover on the exact day that an album like Sgt Peppers or Dark Side of the Moon was released – to be a part of the collective realization that you were listeneing to something monumental. In March 2015, I feel like I got a taste of that experience. To Pimp a Butterfly released amid a thunderstorm of hype, and the year that has passed since then has done nothing to lessen the feeling that Kendrick’s latest is a Very Important Album.
Sonically it was restless, exploring cosmic jazz rap, g-funk, boom bap and everything in between. Structurally it was ambitious, proceeding along the lines of a slowly unfolding narrative poem that culminated in a prophetic conversation with a reanimated 2pac. And lyrically it was completely off the charts, Kendrick shifting from braggadocious to political to personal on a dime, and wrapping it all around labyrinthine flows and rhyme patterns. A landmark for the hip-hop genre.
Thanks for reading!