The Courier Music Writers have bashed their heads together to come up with their Top 10 Albums of 2017. Here's who made the cut.
10. hopeless fountain kingdom - Halsey
hopeless fountain kingdom is a record that transcends music. The whole project is a monumental undertaking and Halsey’s execution is flawless.
Based on Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’, the concept album follows the story of two star-crossed lovers, drawing on Halsey’s recent break-up with producer Lido, who worked on a handful of tracks from the album before splitting up with the songstress. Halsey has taken the storyline into her beautiful music videos, her clothes and merchandise as well as strucuting the set up of the crowd on her recent tour to be split into the two lovers’ families.
The whole project is incredibly impressive and the sound leads the way. It’s a real growth, a middle-finger to conventions and a record that puts Halsey up with the very best in the industry.
- Toby Bryant
9. Everything Now - Arcade Fire
Montreal art-rock conglomerate Arcade Fire got to share some more of their wild, inspired music this year with 5th album Everything Now. Arriving after an understandable 4-year hiatus following their smash hit Reflektor, the band has pushed into bold electronic territory.
From the bombastic, ABBA inspired but secretly morose title song ‘Everything Now’ to darker diatribes like ‘Creature Comfort’, the theme that runs constant is society’s desire for ‘Infinite Content’ and a loss of the self in the digital age. A poetic chronicle of electric revolt that has the tact that Muse sorely lacks, Arcade Fire cement themselves as one of the most talented groups of the last decade with an album that speaks for itself, finally striding into the mainstream and invading popular sports programs with the hopes of waking up the masses. Godspeed.
- Jordan Oloman
8. Concrete & Gold - Foo Fighters
It’s easy to forget after such a triumphant return that Foo Fighters began 2017 on hiatus.
Following a Dave Grohl leg break, the missed Glastonbury performance then a virtually silent 2016, the Foos announced a comeback in February headlining Eavis Farm before returning in a big bad way with new track ‘Run’ and a surprise album announcement on June 1st.
Thus Concrete and Gold came to life, containing the fullest, loudest Foo Fighters work to date. Produced by Greg Kurstin and featuring guest spots from Justin Timberlake and Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman, the album which marked Foo Fighters’ transition to biggest band in the world should’ve been overproduced and mediocre but instead kept it raw and simple, finding a post AC/DC and Motorhead sound which fills a stadium without feeling pretentious. Somehow, in spite of their massive popularity, Foo Fighters still feel like the band of the underdog.
- Callum Costello
7. Gone Now - Bleachers
In June of this year, Bleachers’ sophomore album, Gone Now, was released and didn't disappoint.
Born from the hotel rooms of Fun.’s lead guitarist, Bleachers started their rise to cult fame with the release of their debut album Strange Desire, credited for its emotional lyrics and instrumentals reminiscent of Arcade Fire and The Cure. It also won over a huge cult fanbase who eagerly awaited Gone Now.
Whilst Strange Desire proved that Antonoff could craft arena-worthy pop hits, Gone Now did all this and more. The album’s lead single, “Don’t Take the Money”, and the fifth track, “Everybody Lost Somebody”, stay true to the 80s synth-pop style that fans were drawn to, whilst exploring new areas of the Bleachers’ sound. However, this album makes a departure through its use of simplicity to convey a strong sense of heart. “All My Heroes” is a minimal track for Bleachers and uses this to do what Antonoff does best: express strong emotion in a way that’s beautiful.
- Molly Greeves
6. Wonderful Wonderful - The Killers
How would I describe The Killers’ Wonderful Wonderful album? Well the answer is in the title, because although some choose to criticise the album, personally I love it.
It is made up of ten songs, not a single one worthy of a skip. It may not be Hot Fuss or Sam’s Town, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is just as good.
Brandon Flower’s vocals never disappoint and never fail to amaze me. The album includes a beautiful tribute to his wife, ‘Rut’ where he shows his vulnerability and lets us experience his struggle. I don’t disagree with some that ‘Run for Cover’ is the best song on the album, because it’s my personal favourite, but the other songs are equally as catchy. After five years, and two solo albums, in my eyes it was a welcome return for the band.
- Danielle Brier
5. This Old Dog - Mac DeMarco
Slacker icon Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV (no, really) provided us with a wonderful haymaker this year with his follow up to 2015’s Another One. More lo-fi than his previous quirky work, This Old Dog is a touching and emotional album about Mac’s relationship with his family, rather than just getting stoned and eating pizza.
It’s still triumphant in its laziness (such is his core aesthetic) but is peppered with many standout songs that meet peculiar situations. From the oozing romance of ‘Moonlight on the River’ to the bleak and downtrodden ‘Watching him Fade Away’ this album is perfect for a snail’s pace party or a revision session. Songs like ‘My Old Man’ are layered with thought provoking and unique feelings, like finding good and bad personality aspects seen in your father’s experience seeping into your own as you age. And holy fuck, that riff on ‘A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes’ Is TASTY.
- Jordan Oloman
4. Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect - Sundara Karma
Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect was released in January, and in December is still one of the best indie albums of 2017.
Lyrically, it is concerned with notions of disengaged youth and attempts at romance, making it relatable to their often-youthful audiences. ‘She Said’ and ‘A Young Understanding’ are apt examples with resonant lyrics driven by fast paced riffs, making them two of the best from the album. ‘Flame’ again highlights the lyrical prowess of frontman Oscar Pollock, with Plato’s Analogy of the Cave inspiring philosophical lyrics.
Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect might not have revolutionised a genre, but it was a more than stellar addition to the indie offerings of 2017. It bursts with energy and there is a real sense of anticipation about Sundara Karma going into 2018.
- Tom Hardwick
3. Visions of a Life - Wolf Alice
This album shows off Wolf Alice’s best assets in all their glory: Ellie Rowsell’s incredible vocal range, impressive lyrics and the sudden crescendos of sound in songs like ‘Yuk Foo’ and the album title track.
From start to finish, each song is carefully crafted and feels completely different from the next. They had a lot to prove after their first album, but this sophomore release did not disappoint. ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ is one of their most popular singles, showcasing Rowsell’s fears of finding love in a monologue of over-thinking, losing control, and daring to add those kisses to a special someone.
The album sprawls from grrl power tracks, to emotional dedications to grandparents and friends, and then to pleas of more time to face anxiety in ‘Space & Time’. Ambitious and well deserving of a top 3 spot, I’ll certainly still be listening to this album for a long time to come.
- Charlotte Boulton
2. Damn - Kendrick Lamar
Having set the bar exceedingly high with the masterpiece that was 2015s To Pimp A Butterfly, there was always significant expectations for Kendrick’s fourth effort. DAMN, though perhaps not as seminal as TPAB, is certainly not far off.
Turning the scope lyrically more inwards, Kendrick continually proves himself to be one of the most skilled and versatile rappers going. From the pop sensibilities of ‘LOYALTY’, to the soulful, almost psychedelic ‘PRIDE’, to the intense ‘HUMBLE’ brimming with frustration, this range of styles crafts a release that keeps the listener hooked from start to finish.
The biting political commentary of TPAB certainly isn’t completely absent; opener DNA samples Fox News anchor Eric Bolling’s criticisms of Kendrick’s BET awards performance as a resounding and well-deserved ‘fuck you’ to the network, and a system which continually refuses to recognise its own inherent racism. I could go on, but in the interests of word count I shall leave it at this: DAMN is pretty damn good.
- Charlie Isaac
1. Melodrama - Lorde
Ground-breaking, confident and utterly phenomenal.
Lorde’s sophomore album, Melodrama, is stunningly perfect. The songstress has poured herself into every single lyric and every single beat to create a record that is at the very forefront at modern pop and of a calibre that no-one else in the industry is even close to attaining.
Melodrama tracks Lorde’s, only 21-years-old, sudden plunging into the world of fame and parties after the worldwide success of debut album, Pure Heroine. Melodrama will make you cry at youth’s vulnerability with tracks such as ‘Liability’ before spreading a smirk across your faith with the ingenious lyrics, some of the best seen in‘The Louvre’.
Only two people wrote and produced this whole album, Lorde and Jack Antonoff, which is as mind-blowing as unheard of in modern pop and credit must be given to the latter for its superb production. Melodrama deserves every drop of recognition it receives.
- Toby Bryant