We asked our contributors what their favourite albums and music videos of 2017 were – here’s what they said!
Karine Polwart – A Pocket of Wind Resistance
I have always loved and played folk music, and strongly believe in its ability to be relevant and incredibly emotive. Karine Polwart uses the Folk tradition to appeal this important aspect of music in Scotland. A Pocket of Wind Resistance is her delicate musical/spoken word depiction of love, pain and landscape. Polwart intertwines her own original works with local stories, references to the natural world and the works of Burns. She doesn’t shy away from the depiction of death and grief, but also beautifully portrays nature and the human connection to it, proudly proclaiming: “We are all bog born!”
[Imogen Hay – @ImogenIslay]
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.: Collectors Edition
It was a decent commercial move for Kendrick Lamar to have released a reversed edition of DAMN.; but from an artistic standpoint, there was little impact upon his fans. Take that as more of a comment on the initial album than the second in isolation. Reaching Platinum status, the world welcomed the more singles-driven Kendrick, with tracks like ‘HUMBLE.’ and ‘ELEMENT.’, as well as a performance of utter desperation on ‘FEEL.’ and ‘LUST.’. Kendrick matched the cinematographic feel of good kid, m.A.A.d city, crafting that brutal, yet proud tale embedded into his fans’ minds. Having a reversed order only emphasises the musical and cultural significance of the original DAMN.
[Conor O’Hare – @richpapashorty]
The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Always Foreign
TWIABP&IANLATD have a knack for producing albums that come to me at the right times in my life. Their first LP expressed a will to live that defined my teenage years. Now, they come to me again with an album describing pure rage against the toxic people in your life, feeling lost in a hostile political climate, and fear for a future that seemed so bright just a few years ago. And yet, rapidly approaching my twenties suddenly isn’t so scary when a characteristically grand, dramatic emo score has vocalised my every anxiety and still somehow convinced me to keep hanging on.
Neil Cicierega – Mouth Moods
This is a weird album. The third of the ‘Mouth’ albums, Mouth Moods contains mash-ups of songs that shouldn’t go together but somehow do; it has a great way of bringing people together as you piece together the disparate elements that make up each track. Even after the initial laugh of hearing ‘Y.M.C.A’ mixed with ‘Time’ from the Inception soundtrack, you can appreciate the creativity involved. While hilarious, Mouth Moods goes beyond the initial joke to show some real artistry as nostalgia and pop culture are mixed together to create something new, strange, and beautiful.
St Vincent- Masseduction
Critics have focused on the ‘accessibility’ of St Vincent’s 5th studio album in comparison to her previous material – this could point to co-producer Jack Antonoff’s heavily pop-influenced background. Far from becoming easily digestible pop, however, the artistry of Masseduction lies in its ironic use of pop as an appropriate vehicle for St Vincent’s social and personal commentary. There is both an underlying conflict between the music and the lyrics, and within the music itself; notably the sudden chaotic accumulation of riffs, saturated synths and unsettling tempos, creating a kind of psychotic pop, summarised nicely in the outro of ‘Los Ageless’ with the lyrics, “I guess that’s just me honey / I try to tell you I love you but it comes out all sick.” Alongside St Vincent’s iconic guitar lines and versatile vocals, from seductive to theatrical between songs, Masseduction makes for a genius album that cleverly captures Hollywood culture.
Jonwayne – Rap Album Two
Jonwayne didn’t simply release what I’ve decided was my album of the year (the album I listened to the most); he might also just be my favourite artist of 2017. His career more recently has centred on his own personal and spiritual struggles, and Rap Album Two shows his unfaltering genius. Songs like as ‘Human Condition’ and ‘Out of Sight’ contain such poetical skill, and each moment in his story feels so relatable. Time and time again this upcoming Californian rapper reminds us of our mortality and that life is precious.
Charli XCX – Boys (music video)
It’s remarkable how quickly Boys has assimilated itself into queer culture. From the moment of the video’s release, no trip to Polo would be complete without spending nearly 3 minutes hoping that one day, men might be gentler and kinder. The campy pink theme and the diverse array of cute boys is a utopian fantasy for every man who likes men, and the creation of an alternative LGBTQ+ video by The Queer Collective is testament to that. But honestly, the rest of the video pales in comparison to Riz Ahmed with that pink teddy bear – I’d like that in my 2018, please and thanks.