Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Favourite Albums of 2015 (So Far)

Following on from Monday's blog - a list of my 15 favourite songs from the first half of 2015 - today I'd like to look at some of the best albums from that same six-month period.

Detailed below are the five current top contenders for my own personal 'Album of the Year' award; like the songs on Monday, they're listed in random order, just in case I don't hear anything better before Christmas and my current frontrunner actually turns out to be my favourite of 2015. Gotta keep some semblance of suspense, right?

My Love is Cool - Wolf Alice
This album only came out about a fortnight ago, but it's already given my ears many a roughing-up. My Love is Cool is a superb 'hello' album; not only does it establish Wolf Alice as a cool, dangerous outfit that you wish you could be a part of ("You can join us if you think you're wild, you can join us if you're a feral child"), it also demonstrates that this is a band with many an arrow in their quiver. There's a really great range of styles on show here: between sirenic synth numbers, crank-it-up rawk, and slow-building Slowdive homages, there's really no room to get bored.

Standout Track: You're a Germ

Sprinter - Torres
One of the most electrifying albums I've heard in a long time, Sprinter only contains nine tracks, and yet - not unlike the Wolf Alice album - it covers a whole lot of ground in relatively little time. By the end of it, you've no idea whether Torres is a sensitive, emotional wreck (as suggested by the beautiful, burnt-out Ferris Wheel) or an unstoppable human cannonball who'll slice you open if you get in her way (which is the image that tracks like Strange Hellos and Sprinter bring to mind).

Standout Track: Sprinter

The Race for Space - Public Service Broadcasting
I love Inform-Educate-Entertain, but for me, The Race for Space was the album on which Public Service Broadcasting really came through and fulfilled the promise they've been showing since they first emerged a few years ago. This is a fully-realised concept album that sets both sides of the Space Race (American and Russian) to an epic, atmospheric soundtrack, all of which makes you really hope for another moon mission.

Standout Track: Gagarin

True Romance - Estelle
True Romance is basically new territory for me - this isn't the kind of music I listen to all that often, but I must say that Estelle has done a heck of a lot to change that this year. This is an album of hidden depths, telling the story of a real relationship, charting the lows as well as the highs, and delivering the message that, in the end, you'll always do better if you're confident in yourself.

I particularly love the recurring references to time as an enemy - it cuts romantic liaisons short, it makes relationships turn stale, and it flies by without warning, but romance - true romance - can still overcome its passage.

 Standout Track: Conqueror

Beat the Champ - The Mountain Goats
Last but not least, we come to Beat the Champ. This is John Darnielle's tribute to the gritty pro wrestling that he loved as a child, and if you're a fan of the modern-day WWE, you may well be shocked by some of the pictures he paints here. Still, there's a certain beauty beneath all the blood and bruises - The Ballad of Bull Ramos is heartwarming stuff indeed, and Animal Mask and Unmasked! make for a great two-part testament to the kind of friendship that endures all manner of heel turns and plot twists.

Beat the Champ is a great wrestling record, but like all the best niche concept albums, you don't have to be a fan of the subject matter to appreciate the music.

Standout Track: Foreign Object

What are your favourite albums of 2015 so far? Answers in the comments - no, I haven't heard Carrie & Lowell.


  1. Im with you on the Torres and PSB albums. I'll check out your other choices, especially the wolf alice

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