Thursday, 25 December 2014

25 Best Albums of 2014: #25 to #16

As with my list of best songs, it was very difficult to determine which twenty-five albums would make up this year's list. These are all records that had an impact on me in 2014, not only from current favourite artists but from new discoveries as well, and each deserves its spot here. Enjoy!

Honourable Mentions
Anjani – I Came to Love
Charli XCX – Sucker
Jessie Ware – Tough Love
John Southworth – Niagara
Mariah Carey – Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse
Sharon van Etten – Are We There
The Both – The Both
Yann Tiersen – Infinity

25. Future Islands – Singles
Singles doesn’t quite have the same immediacy and kinetic energy as the band’s now-legendary performance on Letterman, but the sweep and enthusiasm of the songs on this record is hard to resist.  

24. Wake Owl – The Private World of Paradise
The Private World of Paradise manages to evoke ‘60s folk-rock without feeling particularly derivative. A fine debut full of shimmery textures, anchored by frontman Colyn Cameron’s earnest vocals.

23. Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust
VanGaalen’s latest takes a few songs to figure out what kind of record it wants to be, but once it does, it establishes itself as one of the strongest, most gut-wrenching singer-songwriter releases this year.

22. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
Trading in the beats and synths of Born to Die for a live band may be the best creative decision Del Rey ever made. A singularly hypnotic, deeply cinematic album, especially on “Shades of Cool” and “West Coast”.

21. Beck – Morning Phase
Morning Phase isn’t Sea Change 2.0, and it doesn’t need to be – it’s one of Beck’s most engrossing records to date, with a moody, string-laden atmosphere grounded by strong songcraft.

Head below the fold for albums #20 to #16.

20. She & Him – Classics
Yes, it’s a covers album. I don’t care. Classics benefits greatly from an inspired selection of songs, Zooey Deschanel’s strongest vocal performances to date, and the welcome return of M. Ward as primary vocalist alongside Deschanel. The duo’s chemistry and back-on-forth on “Time After Time” and “Stars Fell On Alabama” is nothing short of sublime. Deschanel is wistful on “This Girl’s In Love With You” and Ward breathes new life into the romantic “She”.

19. FKA twigs – LP1
Perhaps the year’s most distinctive debut, LP1 fully showcases FKA twigs’ remarkable voice, particularly on the fragile “Lights On”, delicate "Pendulum" and mesmerizing "Two Weeks".   

18. Owen Pallett – In Conflict
Owen Pallett was arguably best known this year for a series of music theory articles in which he analyzed hits by the likes of Katy Perry, Daft Punk and Haim. However, he deserves just as much recognition for In Conflict, a bold, richly-textured album that includes his most adventurous songs so far.

17. The Wilderness of Manitoba – Between Colours
From its grandiose, appropriately-titled opener “Big Skies” onwards, Between Colours grabs the listener’s attention and never lets go.

16. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
I’d unfortunately given up on Lewis after she released Acid Tongue, the musical equivalent of those cardboard cutouts you put your head through at tourist attractions, but this year she released The Voyager, a record as vibrant and vital as anything she’s ever done. “She’s Not Me” puts a new spin on ‘70s California rock, and the title track is one of 2014’s most emotional closing tracks. 

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