I’ve already written about my Best Gigs of 2017, and next up are my Best Albums – from the ones I’ve found myself listening to repeatedly for most of the year, to the ones that converted me into a fan, the sensational sophomores, and the exceedingly good debuts. It was incredibly difficult to put these into any kind of order, and I think I changed each one about 800 times whilst writing this, so before I can change my mind again, here are my Best Albums of 2017, enjoy x
10. LANY – LANY
The self-titled debut LP from Los Angeles trio LANY is an album dominated by sun-kissed synth-y love songs for a millennial generation, reading less like a breakup album and more like a relationship album, navigating its way through the initial infatuation, the good days, the bad days, the fights, and the breakup. Despite receiving mostly average reviews, and having lyrics that are admittedly cringey in parts – ‘i’m hella obsessed with your face’ – I actually really enjoyed this album. The lyric content itself makes me question if they are directly addressing a culture of modern day millennials who are swiping for love in all the wrong places, and it’s poignant and relatable. Heartache is universal, and LANY have successfully managed to take it and turn it into an dream-pop work of art, heavily laced with an obvious 80s influence.
Hightlights: ILYSB, Super Far, 13
9. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex released their dusky, elegant self-titled debut LP in June this year, almost a decade after the band’s conception. I feel like I possibly (definitely) over-use the term ‘ethereal’, but there really is no other way to describe Cigarettes After Sex, or Greg Gonzalez’s vocals in particular. An album consisting of modern love songs set to downbeat dream pop, paired with their familiar elusive, sultry cocktail of lilting melodies and rich instrumentation made this release ambient and sensational. Each track is tempered with a millennial ennui that gives the songs an extra layer of relevance in 2017, intricate explorations of how and why we fall in and out of love. Nostalgia for lost love and romance is omnipresent, so it is easy to see why so many find solace in Cigarettes After Sex.
Highlights: Flash, K., Apocalypse
8. Lewis Watson – midnight
Three years after releasing his moderately successful debut album The Morning, and after partnering with Indie label Cooking Vinyl, Lewis Watson released his second album midnight, an album consisting of 11 tracks each perfectly encapsulating the warm, acoustic-pop that I was so familiar with. midnight (produced by Oh Wonder’s Ant West) opens with the first single maybe we’re home released February last year, which showcases a slightly heavier side to Lewis that we hadn’t previously seen before, all still effortlessly complementing his vocals. little light follows, with polished guitars encompassing passionate and emotive rose-tinted lyrics that discuss that incomparable butterfly feeling of finding ‘the one’. Track 10 is a collaboration with Lucy Rose titled slumber, and sees stunning lilting harmonies between the pair. Holistically, it’s a phenomenal sophomore album, exquisitely boasting Lewis Watson’s maturation as a songwriter and an artist. He later released an acoustic version of the album, which is equally beautiful.
Highlights: deep the water, la song, give me life
7. HAIM – Something To Tell You
I was never the biggest HAIM fan in the world, I’d enjoyed the odd track here and there but never really gave them much attention. The release of Something To Tell You however completely changed that. Throughout July it was pretty much all I listened to, which I think shows just how much of an incredibly strong follow up it is to 2013’s Days Are Gone. Something To Tell You is an album brimming with stunning harmonies from the Californian sisters and glossy 70’s soft rock influences, with lyrics about heartbreak, longing, and betrayal. Not only was it one of my most favourite albums of 2017, but it was also one that wholly, completely, entirely converted me into a HAIM fan. Now announce that UK tour.
Highlights: Walking Away, Little of Your Love, Want You Back
6. Daughter – Music from Before the Storm
Back in September, English trio Daughter released their original soundtrack to the video game Life is Strange: Before the Storm. While the majority of tracks on Music from Before the Storm have no lyrics, this does not mean that genuine emotion is absent. There’s a definite melancholy in the elegance of their instrumentation, the real power of each track lying unquestionably in its composition. Daughter have always been ones to evoke pure, raw emotion in their music, and this sublime album proves that it’s not just done through their lyrics. They’ve perfected their recipe for heartbreaking and melancholic compositions, and created a genuine work of art with this album. Music from Before the Storm is cinematic and captivating, making it one of the best albums I heard all year.
Highlights: Dreams of William, I Can’t Live Here Anymore, All I Wanted
5. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
If you had asked anyone which One Direction boy would have been the most successful in a post-1D world I would imagine that most would have said Harry Styles, and he’s done it with impressive ease. His self-titled, rose-tinted debut album was released in May earlier this year, and heavily draws on 70s rock influences, something I never really saw coming from Harry. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy his solo material as much as I do. He exceeded everyone’s expectations with this release, being the perfect example of a successful solo artist, and after seeing Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk a couple of months ago, it’s clear his talents go far beyond music. Harry Styles made a bold and brave statement with this album, completely reinventing himself as an artist.
Highlights: Kiwi, Woman, Two Ghosts
4. Paramore – After Laughter
I’ve been a Paramore fan for YEARS, and I seem to have matured and evolved at the same pace as them. They’ve done a lot of growing up since their 2013 self-titled LP, and their fifth studio album came earlier this year in the form of After Laughter, shedding the edgier shell of the albums that came before it, dropping the ‘punk’ from their pop-punk label. It’s a vibrant, rich, defiantly pop comeback, and the return of original drummer Zac Farro is a welcome one. They’ve done what Paramore do best on this release, exhibiting the trait that makes them so appealing – even when the emotions are running high and the situation is shitty, they tell the narrative exactly as it is with a smile on their faces – consequently it’s very easy to miss the darker themes on this album just because of how FUN it is.
Highlights: Hard Times, Caught in the Middle, Tell Me How
3. Will Joseph Cook – Sweet Dreamer
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone that this has been one of my favourite albums of 2017 – it was one I’d been waiting for for a while and I was not disappointed when I finally got my grubby little mitts on it back in April. Will Joseph Cook‘s debut LP Sweet Dreamer was nothing short of a sugar-rush inducing pop dream. He shamelessly pens lyrics brimming with unabashed emotion, whilst enticing catchy hooks just seem to come so naturally to him that they could almost just be part of his genetic make up. It’s infectiously joyous, and brazenly fun. Opening track Biggest Fan shimmers with an optimistic fervour which continues to cascade across all 13 tracks, while third track Treat Me Like A Lover sits on an album full of gems and still manages to shine as one of the brightest, showcasing just how talented Will Joseph Cook is. Girls Like Me, a single released last year, remains a glorious slice of slick indie pop, whilst Habit is delicious and raw, and probably one of my, if not my absolute, favourite track on the album. This right here, is an example of an outstanding, near-flawless debut.
Highlights: Habit, Treat Me Like A Lover, Girls Like Me
2. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps
A friend nagged at me to listen to this for album ages and I am so so grateful that they did, as I’ve been obsessed with, and heartbroken because of it, since September. It’s a sad album, I won’t beat around the bush with that one – it is poignantly sad, but equally stunning. Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger in the Alps is a fragile, fluttering folk-rock album documenting intimacy and relationships of every degree, designed to engage with every emotional memory you’ve got. Each moment detailed in every track feels as though you’re living it yourself, and it takes a special kind of songwriter to do that. It’s one of 2017’s best debut albums but it also without a doubt one of 2017’s saddest albums, it’s not quite as depressing as I’ve made it sound though, as Phoebe Bridgers has alchemized the obvious sorrow into redemptive beauty on this release- it’s not an album about wallowing in the sorrow but rather about moving through it.
Highlights: Smoke Signals, Would You Rather, Georgia
1. Lorde – Melodrama
Four years after the release of her successful debut album Pure Heroine at just 17, Lorde released her sophomore album Melodrama this year. I’ll admit that I wasn’t really a fan of her before, and when Green Light was released the hype surrounding it was unavoidable, but I ignored it and continued to dismiss it. Eventually I got round to listening to Melodrama a little while after it came out and BOY did I feel like a fool. It’s confident, bold, and arguably flawless. Lorde captures unadulterated emotion in her tracks like no other woman in the music industry right now, and chronicles her experiences of her ‘first proper year of adulthood’ in this dizzying, turbulent and exquisite ode to self-discovery. Each song on this sensational album is overflowing with lyrical content addressing adolescent agony, heartache, hedonism, and grief. Melodrama was easily the best album of 2017, a decision I’d already made about 6 months ago.
Highlights: The Louvre, Liability, Sober, Homemade Dynamite