I know that both music itself and one’s music taste are all very subjective matters. It’s difficult for everyone to agree on a singular favourite album by a singular performer, much less agree on all the winners of the “Best Song” categories on different award shows.
Unless it’s Queen. Everyone loves Queen, right?
Still, subjectively and personally, I don’t have a defined music style I like exclusively — instead I jump over styles all the time, varying in preferences from something completely mainstream, almost painfully so, to something so unknown that it has barely any listeners on Spotify.
As such, I figured I would share my own personal selection of my favourite albums from this year so far, in hopes of finding people who agree on my popular choices, recommending good music and exposing some of the less well-known artists who, in my opinion, deserve way more recognition than they get — and maybe, also, getting some recommendations in the comments!
So, let’s start the debate, shall we?
‘Cuz I Love You’ by Lizzo
Starting off with one of the most popular choices out of all albums in this article, Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You has absolutely taken everyone by the storm — deservedly so.
I am not usually that into music that neighbours with R&B and hip-hop, yet not only did Lizzo perform absolutely fantastically in those genres, she also offered a variety of other elements that made all (!!!) the songs on this album stand out and grab your attention.
From jazzy melodies to neo-soul emotive singing, Lizzo, with her incredibly varied span of styles and beautifully powerful voice, dedicates this album to self-confidence and, unabashedly, claims that “she is the genre” which, arguably, is very true.
Personal favourites: “Cuz I Love You,” “Like A Girl”, “Juice”.
‘Social Cues’ by Cage The Elephant
Cage The Elephant have always had this brilliant, quite bizarre air around them, on all of their albums — their sound is always recognisable, but, also, always difficult to describe in exact words. There’s a multitude of reasons for that — from the frequent experimentation with their style and goals, to the strangely haunting lyrics, at times, with elaborate storylines and morals.
Out of their albums, the latest stays true to tradition in terms of me personally having difficulty with ‘pinning it down’, so to speak, yet I can say with definite sureness that it is one of the best things to have graced my ears this year.
It is just as diverse and fun-sounding as usual — and, most importantly, it still has that alluringly strange god-knows-what that is typical of this alternative/garage rock band that pushes narratives into their lyrics.
Personal favourites: “Tokyo Smoke”, “Broken Boy”, “Ready To Let Go”, “Night Running”, (with Beck).
‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost — Part 1’ by Foals
The kings of my angsty middle and high-school evenings, when I didn’t want to get outright emo and jump into my Bring Me The Horizon playlist, but wanted to, instead, mysteriously sit down and daydream while looking onto the sunset out of my window, they still manage to invoke that bizarre nostalgic sadness in me, even though I am unsure what I am being nostalgic of.
The Guardian’s Dave Simpson, when reviewing this album, says: “The burning issues of our times – climate change, political uncertainty and mental health problems – abound, and musically Foals have pushed themselves to create a fitting soundtrack” and there is no better fitting description for me to come up with.
It is, somehow, both calming yet alarming, alluringly dreadful and, still, something you want to just sit down and drink wine to — with no other action involved.
Personal favourites: “White Onions”, “Cafe D’Athens”, “Moonlight”, “Surf, Pt. 1” (yes, unironically — I love simple voiceless melodies).
‘Inflorescent’ by Friendly Fires
Having dropped just a few days before I sat down to write this article, I can already guarantee that it’s going to stay with me for a long time.
I’ve seen several reviews talking trash about Friendly Fires’ latest album already, and, regrettably, I can’t say I don’t understand them at all — admittedly, Friendly Fires do try to play it safe, especially after such a long (eight years!) hiatus since their last release and aim to make it to the dancefloor in an attempt to make their music more popular, but… I don’t see a particular issue with it, if it works?
In their attempts to make disco-friendly summery dance anthems they made an album that is incredibly pleasant and fun to listen to — it fills you up with warm delight and makes you want to grab a Muay Thai as you stride towards a beach party, and that’s a feeling I want to have as fall approaches, ever so inadvertently, even if simply through albums and music.
Personal favourites: “Offline” (with Friends Within); “Run The Wild Flowers”, “Heaven Let Me In” and, of course, “Can’t Wait Forever”.
‘Ephemeral’ by Mr. Kitty
See, this is where, I believe, an artist deserves infinitely more exposure.
It’s loud, crisp and full of bangers that make you want to dance, but the songs on Ephemeral are also cryptically dark when you listen to the lyrics — desperate, almost.
Out of all of Mr. Kitty’s albums, this one is the heaviest on everything, be it the loud sound, the dark lyrics, the dance urges or the aftertaste it leaves in your mouth. It’s not unpleasant, but it is something to be reckoned with, when you find yourself replaying the chorus to “From Liquid” in your head on a loop at 5AM.
An electronic bassy masterpiece, Ephemeral, despite being listed the last in this article, is my favourite album of them all, and I do wish Mr. Kitty got more attention — because I promise, his music is worth it.
For all of my fellow weebs out there: this album even features two songs that involve VOCALOID Hatsune Miku and UTALOID Nizimine Kakoi. I am serious. It’s fantastic.
Personal favourites: “From Liquid”, “Empty Phases”, “Rain”, “Make It Right” (feat. Nizimine Kakoi).