Much like Miguel, Susanne Sundfør is one of those artists that never disappoint me, from whom I will always welcome a new album with joy, and Music for People in Trouble is no exception. The album sees a change in direction for Susanne's music: instead of the electronic sounds of her previous three albums, this is a return to her folk/acoustic roots, with piano and guitar-driven songs. The melodies are stunning, and the songs are by no means more simple than in her previous offerings. The more organic sound gives more space for her vocals and lyrics to shine in their beauty. It's an album of poetic beauty, that I would suggest to everyone that has a soft spot for classical music.
Must listen: Mantra, Reincarnation, The Sound of War, Undercover, No One Believes in Love Anymore, Mountaineers
When I talked about this album with a friend of mine the other day, he told me something that revealed the reason why I initially felt a bit underwhelmed about Dua's debut: "at first, I was a bit disappointed because the just isn't anything on the level of Be the One". Those were my initial feelings too, but they didn't keep me from enjoying the album for what it is: one of the best pop records of the year. It is packed with amazing singles and delivered with a charismatic and distinctive voice, which makes her stand out from the other pop singers out there. Her voice is probably what makes some of the songs stand out from the mass of basic pop singers out there, but other songs were just above trends and timeless. Provided she stops being bothered to cater to the general public, she is guaranteed to be able to recapture the magic of Be the One on a future record.
Must listen: Last Dance, Hotter Than Hell, Be The One, IDGAF, Blow Your Mind (Mwah), New Love, Lost In Your Light (feat. Miguel), Bad Together, Dreams, New Rules
War & Leisure is a good album, but would we ever expect Miguel to release a weak one?
Hmm...I'd certainly say "New Rules" is superior to "Be the One," but Dua's album is solid overall and shows promise. It reminds me of when I listened to Lorde's debut record. I recognised the potential, but she just wasn't able to channel it into a killer first album. With time, Dua will, I believe.
After releasing a string of EPs and various collaborations, SZA took the R&B scene by storm with her debut album in 2017, and it's easy to see why. The record is a perfectly cohesive work of PBR&B, chronicling the emotional struggles of a black woman in her twenties on the wave of dope beats and narrative, confessional lyrics. She is clearly in her comfort zone here, and it shows: the album is not necessarily catered to appeal to radio listeners, as some song structures are atypical and the subjects of the lyrics are often not light and way too personal for the general public (hence my surprise at the deserved success that she got). The album features collaborations with rappers like Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, who shine here more than they have in their recent records, but never manage to steal the spotlight from the main artist herself. Her voice is distinctive and her delivery is charismatic, making the listening experience of this album much like reading a diary, or an autobiography.
Must listen: Supermodel, Love Galore (feat. Travis Scott), Doves in the Wild (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Drew Barrymore, Prom, The Weekend, Broken Clocks, Normal Girl, 20 Something
Last edited by ArmyOfMe on Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Muna <33 Definitely one of the highlights of the year. Brilliant record and I cannot wait to see what they will deliver next. I am a bit sad you didn't include my favourite, Everything, in the must-listen section.
Haven't had the time to listen to Miguel's whole record, but the things I have heard sounded as good as always. SZA is lovely!
i wanna see you on your knees, wanna see you begging
It's too bad that this album was treated as a mere appendix to the first Lady Wood (Blue Lips is supposed to be its second installment), because a) it didn't receive the same amount of promotion that the first one got (not even a physical release!) b) it's a much better effort, able to stand on its own. The first part is supposed to portray the high (in every possible sense) of a relationship, while the second part is the eventual downfall. Concept-wise, it's nothing original (Tove herself had already done that on her debut album), but it's the music and lyrics that do the trick: she is more uninhibited than ever, giving zero fvcks, and talking about stuff like licking pussies, drugs and hard nipples as if she wasn't even supposed to be a popstar. In this sense, she provides something innovative in the landscape of contemporary pop music, where most girls are either tame or just raunchy for the sake of publicity stunts. One could say that Tove is being herself on her records, and that's one of the best qualities of Blue Lips.
Must listen: Disco Tits, shedontknowbutsheknows, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Bitches, Romantics, Bad Days, Hey You Got Drugs?
Opening my top 10 is Kesha's triumphant comeback album, Rainbow. After battling Dr. Luke in court and struggling with eating disorders, Kesha has seemingly managed to pick up the pieces and deliver one of the best pop albums of the year. Rainbow is really different from the music that she used to do (thanks to the absence of Dr. Puke), and much more in line with the kind of artist that Kesha is. The music is rock-y, sometimes even country, and even in the most easy-listening poppy tracks, it avoids the risk of sounding trite and banal. It's a total breakthrough for Kesha the artist: you can tell she's in her comfort zone here, and enjoying it. The lyrics are inspirational, mirroring her overcoming the traumas of the past, but the album is at its best when she is in "no-fvcks-given" mood: Let 'Em Talk, Woman, Hunt You Down, Boogie Feet and Boots are some of the best songs that she has ever released. I definitely hope she has even more fun on her next record, now that the worst is behind her.
Must listen: Bastards, Let 'Em Talk, Woman, Praying, Hunt You Down, Boogie Feet, Boots, Godzilla, Spaceship
This album being so high on my list might raise some eyebrows, but I have always been a big Taylor fan (since 2006), so feelings might have got in the way here. 1989 was a perfect pop album, the pinnacle of her career, and my favourite release from 2014, and reputation can't hold a candle to its predecessor. However, the root of my initial disappointment might have been the fact that the worst tracks are all placed at the beginning of the album. Certainly, while they are undeniable bops, Taylor can do without songs like ...Ready for It?, Endgame (feat. Future and Ed Gremlin), Don't Blame Me and ...So It Goes. Despite that, the highs of this album are really high, and on par with her best work. First single Look What You Made Me Do is very atypical, quite fragmentary, and it still sounds fresh to me. Delicate, New Year's Day and Call It What You Want are all terrific slower cuts that can easily compete with the best ballads and midtempos on her previous albums. Getaway Car, King of My Heart and Dancing with Our Hands Tied are a 1-2-3 punch on par with 1989's epic sequence of Blank Space/Style/Out of the Woods. The heavy and sometimes dark production of the album is interesting, and would be a nice direction to follow on future records. I just hope that next time she learns from her mistakes and understands how to edit her albums a little bit better, and that she has to stay as far as possible from hip-hop artists and Ed Sheeran.
Must listen: Delicate, Look What You Made Me Do, Getaway Car, King of My Heart, Dancing with Our Hands Tied, Dress, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, Call It What You Want, New Year's Day
Lana Del Rey is arguably the most consistently prolific mainstream female singer out there, churning out one album after the other every year/year and a half. Thus, it's surprising how all her albums are consistently good/great, seemingly unfazed by artistic fatigue, and Lust for Life is no exception: the album is probably the most "Lana" album that we have had so far, with her dedicating Love to her fans (and for a fan dedication, it's surprisingly not cheesy, unlike you would expect), dueting with Stevie Nicks, one of her biggest idols, turning her main topoi upside down on Get Free, and playing a meta-game citing herself (We get so tired and we complain / 'Bout how it's hard to live / It's more than just a video game). While still keeping her blues, she sounds more relaxed, at times even light, as if she had finally freed herself of the weight of her initial, oppressive Born to Die persona. Instead of that, a fully realised artist has blossomed.
Must listen: Love, 13 Beaches, Cherry, White Mustang, Summer Bummer (feat. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti), Coachella - Woodstock on My Mind, When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing, Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks), Heroin
You didn't list any of my top Rainbow tracks, but the album is a decent listen, and I was ecstatic that Kesha had put her struggles behind her enough to record a new LP.
Ah, I agree with most of your top Reputation picks. I think Fearless is Taylor at her peak, though 1989 - also my #1 album of 2014 - is a very close second. "Getaway Car" is right up there with her career-best songs, but the album's sub-par lyrical quality, and darker sound definitely hurt its overall appeal.
Lust for Life certainly reveals 'happy Lana' - as happy as we're likely to get - in all her toothy-grin glory. It's her best since Born to Die for me.