- Nils Frahm – My Friend the Forest
The recording of My Friend the Forest leaves you holding your breathe. So close and intimate, you can hear the movements of the piano parts in addition to the melody it is creating. It’s a very moving and personal recording that leaves you feeling connected, as if you’re part of the performance and the magic it creates.
- Bryde – To Be Brave
To Be Brave starts with a fragility that makes you sit up and take notice. The soft guitar and tender vocals feel delicate and hushed, and the chorus ends with the lyrics “No one needs to notice that there’sonly silence holding this”. And yet, the song gets louder. Whatever is being masked through bravery is becoming increasingly difficult to contain.
- Editors – Hellelujah (So Low)
Sometimes you’ve just got to turn up the volume, rock and repent. This is Editors as we’ve never heard them before, and it sounds fantastic. Written after a visit to an Oxfam refugee camp, you can hear the mortality and remorsefulness scattered throughout the track.
- Miljon – What Does It Take
What Does It Take beautifully suits wintery cold weather and dark evenings. With a touch of the XX underpinning the track, there’s a real beauty in its repetition and luscious tones, but there’s also a sense of difficult emotions not too far from the surface.
- Lizzo – Boys
It took five years but finally we have the riposte to Blurred Lines that the world needed. Funky, inclusive and catchy as hell, Boys is just a cracking good tune that sounds timeless and will be filling dancefloors for years.
- Black Belt Eagle Scout – Soft Stud
Black Belt Eagle Scout’s Mother of My Children was one of my favourite albums of the year. Soft Stud is the opening track and is full of pain and lust, a tale of feeling rejected in an open relationship. The real beauty of Soft Stud isn’t the lyrics though, it’s the emotions you feel through the guitar as it elevates the track into something truly spiritual.
- Django Django – Marble Skies
Django Django consistently produce excellent and provocative electro pop and Marble Skies is one of their best. Immensely catchy, the first track from the album of the same name sets a relentless pace. Marble Skies feels like we’re in a high-speed chase, there’s plenty of fun to be had but chaos is never far away.
- The Decemberists – Severed
I’m a sucker for synth pop and when you throw in the menace that The Decemberists bring to Severed I’m unable to resist. Written as an exploration of Donald Trump’s public voice, Severed certainly feels like the soundtrack for the end of the world.
- HAELOS – Buried in the Sand
HAELOS are a band with huge promise, and one I tip for festival headliner status in the future. Buried in the Sand is their first track back after a couple of years away and although less immediate than a lot of their work on debut album – Full Circle – I’ve grown to love it. It has a swagger running throughout, and feels like a real statement from the band about how they are ready to make their next step up.
- Florence + The Machine – Big God
I was a big fan of Florence’s new album High As Hope as I felt it showed real progression in song writing and was less reliant on Welch’s voice hitting magnificent highs to make the record stand out. Big God is a perfect example; it sounds like a Shirley Bassey backing track with all sorts of drama and peril threatened by the opening piano notes. Yet the vocals remain beautifully grounded and intimate; eschewing the need to set off into the stratosphere and making the record all the more satisfying for its lack of predictability.