As 2015 winds down, here are my top five albums of the year in no particular order.
‘Currents’ – Tame Impala
In a Nutshell: The album art appropriately visualises the kind of record you’re about to get into. ‘Currents’ is an intriguing album, drawing listeners in with a seven-minute opener ‘Let It Happen’ which sets us up for a vivid but woozy ride. A huge part of the record’s appeal is how perfectly Kevin Parker has nailed an authentic psychedelic sound that has millienials nostalgic for the 60s. This album is a refreshing departure from anything that’s been put out this year.
Good for: Tripping out without actually taking any illegal substances.
Essential track: This interlude captures the album’s overall sound.
UK tour?: Mid-Feb in London and Manchester.
‘Purpose’ – Justin Bieber
In a Nutshell: If you weren’t a Belieber back when it wasn’t cool to be, this album will make sure of it. ‘Purpose’ has cemented Justin Bieber as an artist to be taken seriously as he graduates from saccharine to sophisticate on his fourth album. ‘Purpose’ is Bieber’s admission of guilt for past misdemeanours, turning them into in reflective lyrics over melancholic production. Guest stars include Jack U, Travis Scott and Halsey with writing credits to Ed Sheeran on ‘Love Yourself’.
Perfect for: Turning sceptics into Beliebers (lol, sorry.)
Essential track: No Sense for trap ~vibes~, courtesy of the Travis Scott feature.
UK tour?: Oct 11 – Nov 2 and Nov 28-29. (Question is, who’s coming with me?)
’25’ – Adele
In a Nutshell: 19, 21 and now 25, Adele has loved through pivotal ages. 25 documents Adele’s transition into maturity, a natural direction from her 2011 album. The now 27 year-old delivers past heartaches and present sentiments in a sophisticated arrangement of ballads. Although a late 2015 release, 25 has dominated the music industry by breaking records and has now sold over seven million copies in its fifth week (and counting).
Perfect for: Letting go of past loverz and reviving the music industry
Essential track: Million Years Ago for the film noir effect. (Adele is not streaming any of ’25’ but just trust me on this one.)
UK Tour?: Yes. I’m insanely jealous of anyone who’s going too.
To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
In a Nutshell: Fearless in form, production and lyricism, the follow up to 2012’s Good Kid Mad City does not disappoint. The album unapologetically speaks on the black experience in modern America. Racism, injustice, violence and the residue of slavery are the issues explored across musical genres. It’s almost unfair to summarise an album layered with so much meaning in a short paragraph, but it couldn’t go without mentioning. This is one of the most important releases this decade and beyond; a masterpiece that will outlive us all.
Perfect for: Delivering a timely social message in a timeless format. This is a classic.
Essential track: Activists at Cleveland State University began chanting the chorus to this during a protest against police harassment.
UK tour?: Currently billed for Hyde Park’s BST Fest in July.
‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ – Drake
In a Nutshell: Album? Mixtape? Who knows? Drake quietly released a 17-track mixtape that holds together like a promoed album. Rumour has it that this project was intended to fulfil his 4-album deal with Cash Money Records after falling out with label boss Birdman. Nonetheless, quality isn’t compromised on IYRTITL. Drake continues to wear his heart on his sleeve; lyricism ranges from braggadocious on tracks like ‘Legend’ and ‘No Tellin’’, to emotional on ‘Jungle’ and ‘You and the 6’. The project is supported by long-time collaborators Noah ‘40’ Shebib and Boi 1-DA on production.
Good for: The ‘two birds, one stone’ strategy; satisfying the fans whilst also departing from the Cash Money roster.
Essential track: Preach. Samples Henry Krinkle’s ‘Stay’, which is the same song Nicki Minaj used for ‘Buy a Heart’.
Side note: Honourable mention goes to ‘Hotline Bling’, for conquering the summer and beyond, whilst giving the fans a pastel aesthetic to thirst over. It also inspired a whole mixtape from Erykah Badu. May the legend of Hotline Bling live on *forever*.