10. In Colour by Jamie xx
Jamie xx brings the good times with In Colour. There are definitely stand out singles on this album (see best songs) which never fail to get me movin’ and groovin’. It’s refreshing to hear more of an upbeat sound and I love the tracks featuring XX members Oliver and Romy. Jamie xx hits hard with vibes, if you like electronica / house then you’re gonna love this album.
Best paired with: a house party
- I Know There’s Be Gonna (Good Times)
- Loud Places
Best moment: Lyric of “I’ma ride in that pussy like a stroller” in I Know There’s Be Gonna (Good Times).
9. Immunity by Clairo
Immunity is Clairo’s debut album and in my opinion, lives up to the hype of her singles. It feels soft, it’s easy listening and occasionally a little too ‘VSCO-girl’ for me at times, but ultimately the hooks and melodies do get stuck in my head. Each track flows into one another, I like to listen when I’m in the zone of writing. The lyrics are worth paying attention to, giving the album much needed depth. Is Clairo an industry plant? I am not too sure, and to be honest I don’t really care. I like Clairo and I have Tumblr account – it’s a match made in heaven.
Best paired with: a Sunday afternoon – lie on your bed, headphones on and eyes shut.
- Closer to You
Best moment: Singing along to the auto-tuney bit of ‘Shut-up’ in Closer to You
8. SONGS TO MAKE UP TO by Ta-ku
This is what healing sounds like. Lame, I know, but in the case of SONGS TO MAKE UP TO (STMUT) it is completely true. Unlike most albums, you have to listen to this from start to finish. Listening out of order will not do it justice. Following the success of SONGS TO BREAK UP TO, there is something really pure and beautiful in STMUT. It’s hopeful and it wants you to be as well.
Best paired with: A sunrise.
- Love Again
- Sunrise / Beautiful
Best moment: The feeling after listening from start to end – a sense of abstract hope.
7. Strangers to Ourselves by Modest Mouse
I physically went out and bought this album. It’s one of the two albums that I still have a CD of – the other is The Secret Life of the Veronicas, so I think that already says a lot. I was introduced to Modest Mouse by a boy I liked in high school and this album was the catalyst of me finally becoming a ‘true fan’. Strangers to Ourselves launched me into the indie rock scene and I still thoroughly enjoy listening to their older albums. It’s quirky and it’s fun. For me, Modest Mouse will always have a unique sound with distinct lyrics.
Best paired with: Too much coffee and a general distrust of society.
- Of Course We Know
- Wicked Campaign
Best moment: The quirky yet sad story of Ansel.
6. True Care by James Vincent McMorrow
True Care delivered that little something which seemed to be missing on James Vincent McMorrow’s other albums. A little more upbeat and easier to dance to, True Care is my favourite album from McMorrow. It’s uplifting yet sad. It transcends all moods. Chill with a beat never goes wrong.
Best paired with: A window seat on an airplane
- True Care
- Holding On
- Thank you
Best moment: The beat coming in on Thank You. Feels like you are soaring (hence the lyric “sitting in the cockpit seat” and other various plane references)
5. A Seat at the Table by Solange
If Beyoncé is the sun, then Solange is most definitely the moon! Delicate, reflective and smooth, this album shimmers. It’s a delight to listen to. Solange has managed the tricky balance of smooth vocals and good beats with the intermittent rap solo. There are interesting social, racial and political issues raised through the lyrics in the album, but it never feels forced nor preachy. Solange is so honest and concise in her words that you can’t help but pay attention. There is a rare simplicity in Cranes in the Sky – a truly beautiful song.
Best paired with: A teapot of Lavender Earl Grey tea
- Cranes in the Sky
- Don’t Touch My Hair
Best moment: The interlude: Dad Was Mad.
4. Goddess (deluxe) by BANKS
I listened to this album a lot in high school. It was reflective of how I felt – moody and misunderstood. Goddess is sexy, dark and a little mysterious. This album is the perfect soundtrack for a heartbreak. It is ideal for when you feel hopeless in love. Banks’ vocals are deeply melancholic and depending on my mood, harrowing at times. The lyrics neatly match the vocals and work well with the synthy beats. Goddess is definitely a mood album. In order to do the work justice, a will to dive head first into the melancholy is needed. Otherwise it’s easy for Banks’ emotion and crafted moments to be overlooked.
Best paired with: A heartbreak
- Bedroom Wall
Best moment: The lyric “Cause she’s a goddess, finally saw this.” Makes me wanna flick my hair and walk away (like a goddess).
3. Mary Magdalene by FKA Twigs
Gorgeously theatrical, FKA Twigs stunned me with this album. I first heard the album live at her concert at arts festival DARK MOFO in Tasmania, Australia. The impressive vocals were accompanied with pole dancing and Wushu sword fighting/dancing – it felt like a show opposed to a concert. And luckily for me the studio album lived up to my expectations. Heart breaking and delicate, Twigs sounds so vulnerable through-out the album. The lyrics, although still in the abstract Twigs style, leave less to the imagination than previous albums. The soundscapes are complex but refreshingly pared down. It feels easy to connect with Twigs and the ideas in this album. I feel moved by her music. In my mind it is more than deserving of the label ‘high art’. Twigs has delivered far beyond her potential with Mary Magdalene, she continues to hone her craft and push boundaries as a musician and artist.
Best paired with: A rainy bus ride (pretend you are floating in another world wearing a vintage white dress – trust me.)
- Mary Magdalene
- Home with You
Best moment: The stunning soundscapes Twigs has so carefully pieced together which are matched with her spectacular visuals.
2. Isolation by Kali Uchis
Isolation is the debut studio album of Uchis and I was immediately converted into a full-fledged fan after first hearing it. The mix of pop, funk, reggeaton and R&B flows perfectly, weaving in moments of ‘chilled’ rap from featured artists. Isolation is easy listening. It sounds like a holiday in the tropics (Miami), feels like a champagne high (In My Dreams) and tastes deliciously sweet with a hint of spice (Tyrant). Uchis’ vocals are dreamy but do not lack strength. She is effortless in her seduction. There is plenty of substance in the sweetness that is Isolation.
Best paired with: A cocktail or two.
- Dead to Me
- Nuestro Planeta
Best moment: Apart from Uchis singing in Spanish, the shining moment from Isolation is Bootsy Collins opening After the Storm. His voice is so smooth you could smear it on toast (delicious).
1. Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey
Norman Fucking Rockwell (or NFR) is a mood album, similar to the 2015 release of Honeymoon. There is a feeling that the album could be played on an endless loop, no real sense of beginning or end. NFR seems be my current soundtrack regardless of whether I am happy, sad, or reflective. Singular moments seem to shine in each repeated listen, a note or lyric which I once overlooked now feels increasingly familiar but fresh. The more I listen to the album the more relevant it feels to me.
Released at the end of the Northern Hemisphere 2019 summer, NFR reflects that. ‘Sun drunk’ is a feeling that comes to mind. That delicious sense of needing to cool off in a dark room after soaking in the harsh sun. NFR tastes sweet – not slickly like Born to Die, but definitely a softer blend of flavours then Lust for Life.
Norman Fucking Rockwell! needs (and deserves) a dedicated listen. It may not contain the popular singles or the celebrity collaborations found her in older albums, but it instead offers a feeling of a complete work.
Best paired with: Everything (really!)
- Fuck It I Love You
- Cinnamon Girl
- Happiness is a Butterfly