Hey all, it’s been ages since I’ve posted, but it’s December and that means I have to get back to blogging because it is my favourite time of the year: review season!
Last year my top 5 album list was all about EDM, featuring the return of classic Daft Punk and emergence new kid on the scene Avicii, but this year my tastes surprised me. Instead of being all about albums to make you move I was into songs with a message and beautiful melodies this time around, seemingly without much choice, since each of these albums was stuck on repeat pretty much as soon as I heard them.
When Foster the People first hit the scene with “Pumped up Kicks” I was not impressed; it wasn’t until I heard “Coming of Age” that I thought that there might be something more to this band. With the release of Supermodel I discovered a sound that reminds me of the West Coast, since their songs sound like they should be paired with a road trip and a summer sunset. Critics weren’t so impressed with the album - the pop sound was too dissonant with the social commentary themes - but that’s exactly what I love about it. Like my old favourite American Idiot by Green Day, social criticism pairs perfectly with a sing-a-long.
For someone who’s pretty jaded about life it came as a surprise to me how much I liked the most positive song of the year - “Happy” off of Pharrell’s latest, GIRL. Maybe it was the clever lyrics again, or possibly the snappy beat, but more likely it’s because I rarely dislike anything that Pharrell creates (I’ve been a fan since his stint in N*E*R*D). It also helps that he has mad style that is glamourous & classic while being absolutely urban (dude rocks a Louis Vuitton hat in the video for "Marilyn Monroe") - much like many of the songs off this album. Classical strings open tracks like “Marilyn Monroe” before sliding into sick beats that are oh-so-dance-able.
I blame my addition of the Black Keys’ Turn Blue to the list on my love of USA Network’s very-New-York tv program Suits, since I tend to steer clear of anything deemed to be under the mantle of “hipster.” But I couldn’t resist the gritty bass sound of songs like “Fever” and “It’s up to You Now” so I gave the rest of the album a listen and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Some tracks sound very classic rock n’ roll (“Gotta Get Away”), others are reflective (“In our Prime”), and they’re all perfectly nostalgic.
The most dance-able album on the list besides Pharrell has to be the latest from the Kooks, Listen. Once again we’re hit with clever lyrics masquerading alongside intricate guitar riffs, sick beats, and dirty bass that screams London in the best way possible. It’s not often that I wait in such anticipation for an album to drop, but after hearing “Around Town” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the entire set of tracks - which proved to meet and exceed my expectations. Many of the songs have familiar sounds (not surprising considering that the Kooks blatantly reference the Beatles, funk bass lines, and the Rolling Stones), but they mash everything together in such a way that tracks like “Forgive & Forget” and “It was London” will have fans of either classic British-invasion band jamming along.
Last, but not least, is the debut album the Balcony from Catfish and the Bottlemen. I first heard the album singles on BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe’s show, and was very impressed with how mature the band’s sound was considering how new they are. Their content is very relationship-focused in theme - with pointed lyrics that exemplify the highs (“Fuck it if they talk/fuck it if they try and get to us”) and lows (“it’s obvious you don’t try”) - so maybe the album just came along at the right point in my life to hit something emotional, but the sound is still so wonderful that I can’t imagine not loving this album. Hopefully the band keeps up the momentum, since I can really see them being something awesome.