Another year of perfect music has been and gone, we are well into 2015 but lets take a quick look back at what was great about the year just gone. Here is Tender Lentil’s list of best albums from the past 12 months. If you feel I missed anything out, or am just plain wrong, let me know!
10. La Roux – Trouble in Paradise
La Roux’s long-awaited second release took a while warm to, but given how infectious it is it was only a matter of time before it had me dancing around my bedroom. Following 2009’s self-titled breakthrough, Trouble In Paradise is a warm but poignant piece of work, incorporating themes of desire, co-dependence and adultery all wrapped up in a blazing homage to new-wave 70s synthpop, with funky baselines and sensual character.
9. Banks – Goddess
Highlight: This Is What It Feels Like & Waiting Game
I had been anticipating the release of Banks’ first full length all year, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a solid first LP, overflowing in sultry electronica laced with R&B vocals that shake the core. My only critisism, and the reason is was not higher up on the list is for the same reason Haim‘s Days Are Gone received the same slot in last years list; I feel she had showcased her best in the months before Goddess. The London EP stunned with Waiting Game and This Is What It Feels Like, and follow up singles Brain and Beggin’ For Thread left me reeling. However the new album tracks failed to inspire me as much as the songs I already adored, which is why it only hits number nine on the list.
8. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
Highlight: Red Eyes
You may have cottoned on the the female domination of this 2014 list. Maybe I’m biased, but there was an overall sense of girls-being-girls-and-supporting-other-girls in much of 2014’s releases, which I am inherently drawn too. However there have been one or two exceptions, the shimmering americana at the heart of The War On Drugs‘ Lost In The Dream is completely deserving of a place on this list. Adam Granduciel created a completely moving record, one which echoes the greats and is enriched by his personal story and struggle. You can read my full review here.
7. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
The summer arrived and Ultraviolence exploded into the musicsphere. However, the long awaited second release from sultry enigma Lana Del Rey seemed to leave everyones general consciousness as quickly as it arrived. Ultraviolence is ideal Sunday afternoon listening with a twist. It’s dark and grimy, alluding to the mythologies of Monroe’s Hollywood, fast cars and mature lovers. It’s a record of complete escapism, like listening to a black and white film painted by Del Rey’s enigmatic lyricism. It’s no Born To Die, but it gives us something a little different, which is what you would hope to achieve from a second release.
6. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
Highlight: Stay Gold
Imagine you’re lying in a field somewhere, with the sun blazing down and warming your face, or imagine you’re driving down an endless road, with no real idea of where you will end up. The record you may be listening to could be Stay Gold, the new-wave folk album from Swedish sisters Fist Aid Kit. I am occasionally on the fence about country music, but the Söderberg sisters created a moving summer release which blurs the genres and touches the heart.
5. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Highlight: Birth In Reverse
Annie Clark is one of the most enigmatic characters in music today. Her style, both musically and aesthetically cannot be pinned down in a single word. The release of St. Vincent‘s self-titled is much the same, a stunning reflection of the constantly shifting trends; from the brash and gritty Birth In Reverse to the cerebral deformed soundscapes of Huey Lewis. It’s in-touch and progressive, an entirely unique record for an entirely unique artist. Read the full review here.
4. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
Arguably the most depressing record of 2014, Lykke Li‘s ode to a broken heart fell into my lap at just the right time to earn it a decent spot on this list. Deeply personal and utterly evocative, I Never Learn stumbles through themes of heartache, loss and renewal, weaving in and out of haunting domes of sound and the soft tinkling of piano keys. It is raw and sometimes painful, and makes you wonder the story behind the lyrics, but also universal enough to relate your own lived experience. Read the full review here.
3. Mø – No Mythologies To Follow
Highlight: Waste Of Time & Slow Love
Watching Mø perform is like watching an explosion of raw energy, she gives you everything and leaves you wanting more. No Mythologies To Follow is much the same. It’s an album for the young, those throwing themselves at life without the experience to know what will happen next – it’s erratic and, but still entirely fun. Mø, meaning ‘maiden’ in her native Danish, is very much a young woman of this age; identifiable by her long braid and dishevelled nature, NMTF is a brilliant blend of electronic soundscapes and cascading synths. It’s a record to get lost in, an album for girls by one of the most hardcore girls around right now.
2. FKA Twigs – LP1
Highlight: Two Weeks & Kicks
FKA Twigs is a household name, whether it’s for her outrageous videos, completely mysterious persona or the fact that she’s dating Robert Pattinson, but really, it’s the music which draws most attention. The Mercury nominated LP1 was tipped for success long before its release, and it did not disappoint. It’s the sexiest record of the year, by a mile and a half. Steeped in dark, intense beats and even darker lyrics of desire and sex, delivered with FKA Twigs’ sensual breathlessness. LP1 is bold and completely unapologetic, exploring female sexuality in a way that is touching, relatable and entirely erotic.
1. Taylor Swift – 1989
Highlight: Style, I Wish You Would & Blank Space
I don’t feel bad about this, and yes, I am deadly serious. I love Taylor Swift, I always have, and I, like a million teenage girls (and boys) across the world, was anxiously awaiting the release of 1989. When it was released it didn’t take long to be entirely hooked. She has moved away from the country/pop crossover which made her famous, and moved into 1980s influenced hit territory with deeply infectious and clever lyricism to match. The reason why I have chosen 1989 as number one if purely because of how quickly I got sick of it. It’s all I listened to in the weeks after I got my hands on it, and if that’s not the sign of a truly seminal and deserving number one album, then I don’t know what is. Since she has pulled her entire back catalogue from Spotify, take it from me, it’s worth actually paying money for if you think it might be up your street. A controversial choice perhaps? You tell me.
Credit to Becky for the banner