From Iain Woods' psychologist album released on 1st January 2015 to Archy Marshall's King Krule follow-up released as December drew to a close, 2015 was certainly an interesting year for album releases. With honourable mentions to Young Fathers, Errors, and Lanterns On The Lake, read below for ten of my favourite albums from the past year:
10) Al Bairre - 'Experience The Al Bairre Show With Al Bairre Experience'
Perhaps a bit of a cheat as it is a mini-LP, 'Experience The Al Bairre Show With Al Bairre Experience' captured the sense of "joie de vivre" that the Al Bairre live experience so ably demonstrated when I saw them at The Great Escape in 2015. Rousing instrumental opening track 'Hi' brought me hope in times of despair, and was swiftly followed by a series of bouncy numbers.
9) RAC - 'Master Spy' (OST)
There was a strong possibility that Disasterpeace's excellent John Carpenter-inspired OST for 'It Follows' would make this list. And an equally strong possibility that Carpenter's own 2015 'Lost Themes' album would make it. Ultimately, the battle was won by RAC's pulsating electronic soundtrack for video game 'Master Spy', which was the accompaniment to many a hearty jog in 2015. Elsewhere, RAC also released a track a month, culminating in an excellent Little Boots synth-pop collab.
8) Public Service Broadcasting - 'The Race For Space'
Public Service Broadcasting cemented their reputation as one Britain's most unique contemporary bands with their second album, a concept-themed effort based around the Soviet-US space race. Built on archive recordings, the band moved away from the more guitar-oriented sound of their debut album to an electronic-infused record. The result is as stirring as it is educational.
7) Sigma - 'Life'
Sigma have churned out some huge pop hits in the last couple of years, notably 'Changing' (with Paloma Faith) and 'Glitterball' (with Ella Henderson). On 'Life', they continued the run of successful collabs, with the likes of Jacob Banks and Rita Ora driving their productions.
6: CHVRCHES - 'Every Open Eye'
The follow up to their 2013 debut, 'Every Open Eye' was widely acclaimed. And, at least in these quarters, deemed superior to its predecessor. Tracks like 'Leave A Trace' and 'Empty Threat' sparkled with the band's characteristic electronic pop vibe, but equally with some emotional substance behind them.
5: Wolf Alice - 'My Love Is Cool'
The hype for Wolf Alice could have crippled the London outfit, but instead, they delivered impressively with their debut album 'My Love Is Cool'. Retaining some of the pleasingly quieter elements that the band was most notable for in their earlier days, they also cranked it up on tracks like 'You're A Germ' and 'Giant Peach'. Unfortunate to not win the 2015 Mercury Music Prize.
4: Young Wonder - 'Birth'
Young Wonder share plenty of parallels with Canadian outfit Purity Ring: both duos, both electronic-based, both with female-led vocals, both released albums in 2015. The difference being that 'Birth' was a particular triumph. The re-recorded version of the wonderfully resonant 'To You' ("I think the pain in my ribs has subsided/And then I will close my eyes/See you in the next life") was a masterpiece, while 'Enchanted' featured highly in my top tracks of 2015.
3: Years & Years - 'Communion'
After seeing Years & Years rehaul their sound, I'd always pegged them down as being a band that might produce flashes of dancey brilliance and not much more. An unfair assumption, as it turned out. 'Communion' is a brilliantly consistent collection of tracks, even impressing in its more intentionally sedate tracks like 'Eyes Shut' and 'Without'.
2: Everything Everything - 'Get To Heaven'
Arguably the biggest omission from the 2015 Mercury Music Prize nominees, Everything Everything had been one of the pre-nomination favourites to win the award. The finest of their three albums to date, 'Get To Heaven' was the most lyrically relevant and ambitious that the Manchester band had attempted - covering global politics, including the rise of Islamic State, as well as imagining an assassination on the Queen on 'Fortune 500'. Elsewhere, 'No Reptiles' offered one of the year's best lyrics: "it's alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair, old enough to run"
1: Bleachers - 'Strange Desire'
Probably not an album that you've seen on many album of the year lists. Perhaps because it was released in the US in 2014. But it didn't appear in the UK until 2015, and its presence at the peak of this list is fully deserved - thanks to a string of power-pop anthems on the record including 'I Wanna Get Better', 'Rollercoaster', and 'Wild Heart'. Despite a certain eighties nostalgia underpinning the album, 'Strange Desire' consistently felt inventive and engaging.
Indeed, Fun. member Jack Antonoff's project actually released two great albums in 2015: 'Strange Desire' and its accompanying covers album inappropriately named 'Terrible Thrills', which featured some top notch collaborations with Charli XCX and Sara Bareilles.
Read more of the FADED GLAMOUR Best Of 2015 posts here.