Year In Review: FADED GLAMOUR Top Albums Of 2019

on Sunday, January 19, 2020
Words: Rajan Lakhani & Saam Das

If you thought you'd escaped another "best albums of 2019" list, then you thought wrong. We've collated our top albums of 2019 below, nipping it down to a lean fifteen, ordered alphabetically to avoid mummy and daddy fighting. Honourable mentions include the likes of Fontaine DC's fearsome 'Dogrel', Charli XCX's poptastic 'Charli', Thom Yorke's 'ANIMA', and Slipknot's visceral return 'We Are Not Your Kind'.

100 gecs - '1000 gecs'

The 2019 re-issue of Late Of The Pier's sole album 'Fantasy Black Channel' only came onto our radar in the writing of this list so it'd be disingenuous to include it at such a late stage - however, 100 gecs are a suitable proxy. The duo of Dylan Brady and Laura Les share some of the ramshackle experimental nature of Late Of The Pier, with a healthy sway toward PC Music. At just twenty-three minutes in length, it's an exhilarating rollercoaster of a debut album.(SD)

Cate Le Bon - 'Reward'

There is a danger with artists like Cate Le Bon that they get pigeonholed into being described as ‘left-field’ when they experiment musically on a regular basis, something Le Bon hasn’t been afraid to do, such as recording a Welsh-language EP. But hopefully 'Reward' will open Le Bon to the wider audience she deserves.

It’s a cliche that with high risk comes with high reward (pun intended!), but with her latest record, Le Bon has got the balance exactly right to create a record that manages to retain the dreamy, surreal quality of her earlier records yet makes those eccentricities complement the folksy melodicism of the album rather than distract from it. A singular songwriter whose well-crafted records unlock more for the listener with repeated listens. (RL)

Girli - 'Odd One Out'

Having already made waves in 2016, the debut album from Girli feels like it's been a long time coming. 'Odd One Out' has thankfully been worth the wait. A fast and furious mix of pop, punk, and electronic music, Milly Toomey's rebellious personality shines through, particularly across the album's charmingly witty lyrics. (SD)

IDER - 'Emotional Education'

Before IDER were Ider, they were Lily & Meg, a folk duo who we actually plucked from a literal long list of bands to put forward for consideration in the 2014 Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition. With their debut album 'Emotional Education', Ider have crafted a jaw-dropping collection of heartfelt tracks. Driven from the outset by our top track of 2018, album opener 'Mirror', 'Emotional Education' already represents a tremendous body of work. (SD)

Julia Jacklin - 'Crushing'

'Crushing' is a refreshingly candid record, revisiting failed relationships in a brutally honest fashion. Much has rightly been made of how Jacklin upends the toxic masculinity that still pervades and 'Head Alone' is a feminist tour-de-force, with its lyrics “I don't want to be touched all the time/I raise my body up to be mine”, and ending with “So I'll say it 'til he understands/You can love somebody without using your hands”.

The musical styles aren’t particularly surprising - lo-fi garage rock, folk, country - but it’s the smart, incisive lyrics and her knack of producing earworm choruses that shine through. 'Crushing' is the sound of a young woman using her experiences to take control of the world around her, and you hope it will inspire other people to do the same. (RL)

'The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part' Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Following the genius of 2014's 'The LEGO Movie' (all hail Lord and Miller) was always going to be a tough ask but 'The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part' had a good stab at it. And the sequel's soundtrack played an integral role, with the T-Pain-featuring 'Catchy Song' taking the central mantle occupied by the erstwhile 'Everything Is Awesome'.

'Catchy Song' was perhaps even surpassed by Tiffany Haddish's deliciously pantomime 'Not Evil', and the soundtrack was supplemented by appearances from Matt & Kim and Superorganism. The cherry on top being the hilarious end credits song, 'Supercool', led by Beck with The Lonely Island and Robyn. (SD)

Lloyd Cole - 'Guesswork'

This is yet another brilliant record from one of British indie music’s greatest songwriters, Lloyd Cole. Switching from guitars to synthesisers, the compositions on 'Guesswork' nevertheless remain rich, ambitious and powerful, backed as they are by lush, electronic sounds. A reminder that form is temporary, class is permanent. (RL)

Mahalia - 'Love And Compromise'

Having signed for a major record label at only 13 years of age, Mahalia has been long touted as a special talent. She delivers on that promise with 'Love And Compromise', a fine album that fuses traditional RnB and soul sounds with modern themes including self-empowerment to create something truly distinctive. (RL)

Mark Lanegan - 'Somebody’s Knocking'

Mark Lanegan is the musical equivalent of the postman - he always delivers. This might just be his best solo record yet, and one that can be compared with his work as part of the Screaming Trees and Queens Of The Stone Age. The record is heavily influenced by eighties post-punk, especially Joy Division and early New Order, but when added to Lanegan’s unique growling vocals, you get something unforgettable. His experience of songwriting shines through, with all the tracks having a compelling hook that keeps you wanting to come back for more. (RL)

Michael Kiwanuka - 'Kiwanuka'

Like many, I tend to get cynical when there is a lot of hype surrounding a new record and so I’ll already be thinking ‘impress me’ when I press play. However, 'Kiwanuka' not just meets the hype, it might even exceed it. Fusing soul, psychedelia, funk and folk, this is the sound of an artist at the height of his powers. While his previous two records were very good, 'Kiwanuka' is the timeless, essential listen that marks Michael Kiwanuka's arrival as one of UK’s most important artists. (RL)

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - 'Ghosteen'

'Ghosteen' was written following the tragic death of Nick Cave’s teenage son, and finds Cave working through his grief. To open himself in such a way must have been painful and you feel humbled as a listener that Cave has been prepared to share so much of the emotional turmoil he has experienced. Tracks such as 'Waiting For You' are so heartbreaking but it’s such a lovely song, you can’t help but want to listen to it again.

It is often the way that something beautiful arises from the most awful of situations, and 'Ghosteen' is an extraordinarily powerful and moving record that can provide catharsis and support to anyone who has experienced loss. (RL)

Richard Dawson - '2020'

Richard Dawson has developed a reputation as one of the outstanding British folk artists. '2020' is his most accessible record yet, which will hopefully establish him as one of the country’s best songwriters, irrespective of genre. '2020' encapsulates Britain today better than any record I listened to, highlighting the injustices that many face on a daily basis. For some, that might make some of the songs a tough listen but that unflinching rawness makes this album all the more important and special. (RL)

Sir Babygirl - 'Crush On Me'

Somewhat confusingly, Sir Babygirl released two albums in 2019 - 'Crush On Me' and its expanded, remastered counterpart 'Crush On Me: BICONIC EDITION'. For extra indie points, it's the former and earlier release that makes this list of best albums of 2019. Short and sweet. A burgeoning LGBTQ+ icon, Kelsie Hogue's debut album delivered pop anthem after pop anthem to delight the masses. (SD)

The Tallest Man On Earth - 'I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream'

One of the main reasons why I try to listen to several albums a week is the anticipation of hearing an incredible emerging artist, and the surprise of being bowled over by the brilliance of their record. 'I Love You, It’s A Fever Dream' is one such record. The influences are obvious, in particular Bob Dylan, Sufjan Stevens and Simon & Garfunkel - but singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson recycles them to create a record that is poignant and affecting in its own right.

The songs stayed me with for days as I kept hearing the melodies in my head so I kept returning to this album more than any other in 2019. With 2019 being a year of such discord and division across the world, this is an intimate, romantic and comforting record that gave me and hopefully others a much-needed tonic. (RL)

Weyes Blood - 'Titanic Rising'

What a voice! The sad beauty of Karen Carpenter’s vocals come to mind when I listen to Weyes Blood (real name Natalie Mering). The melodies are consistently strong throughout the album, and combined with the lavish production, make 'Titanic Rising' a warm, inviting listen that you just want to immerse yourself in. (RL)

FADED GLAMOUR Top Albums Of 2019 YouTube Playlist

Click to listen to Rajan's Best Of 2019 Spotify Playlist. Find more of our 2019 In Review series here.

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