There is a case to be made for soil, the debut album by serpentwithfeet, to be sensibly understood as seminal before even being granted the benefit of hindsight. It’s incredibly rare that a creative talent of this magnitude arrives at all. It‘s astounding that they would also succeed in presenting a vision of such striking lucidity across their first major work.
Building on the innovations of previous album Immunity, it invests more emotionally and retains the primal physical stimulus behind Hopkins’ best music. He remains a wholly individual voice in a congested field, a single phrase played from his piano speaking volumes. And Singularity is his best album yet.
The ’90s were cool, but that was then. This is now, and The Breeders are sounding just as vital now (and cool, whatever that might mean) as they did when Last Splash made a splash.
Throughout, Marshall feels in total command, stripped back but self-assured, singing about everything from Trumpian dysfunction (In Your Face) and family relationships (Horizon) to corporate greed (Robbin Hood).
By the end of the heartfelt Touched By You MNEK has truly made his mark with this ambitious masterwork of an album. After years in the background, he’s proved that he’s the full package.
Bunny is a worthwhile return for Matthew Dear, showcasing the production chops that have made him a familiar name for 15 years now. It sags in places, but this isn’t such a crime when the album also contains highlights like Electricity, Horses, Modafinil Blues and Bunny’s Dream, which are highly recommended for any electronic music fan.
Lamp Lit Prose may have arrived quickly, but it sounds as though Longstreth has made leaps and bounds from the self-titled album’s more solipsistic, self-piteous moments. Towards the end, positivity and simplicity win out, along with a surprising – given the baroquely knotted musical strands – lyrical clarity.
Anyone looking for party bangers may be disappointed ... but Broken Politics is the sound of an artist growing and maturing very nicely.
A highly listenable album with an audibly beating heart, which deserves to be played so loudly that the neighbours complain.
Dead Magic is a brilliant artistic statement, Anna von Hausswolff’s best self-definition to date.
In The Lookout, Veirs has done what she does best. Instantly recognisable and comforting, she opens her personal world up as safe haven in these strange and noisy times, whilst still keeping you at arm’s length, listening for secrets.
Call The Comet has Marr’s personality stamped on it all the way through. Recorded with his band and self-produced at his Crazy Face Studios in Manchester, it’s a substantial album lasting almost an hour.
It’s a thrill to listen to their experiments, their tinkering with sounds and ideas.
Wide Awake is certainly not their best, but it is their most wide ranging and as such, it could just be one that splits the hardcore fanbase right down the middle.
Aviary is not a great album – it’s too much of an ordeal for that accolade, requiring multiple listens to even start to engage with meaningfully. But it is, in its own idiosyncratic way, a towering artistic accomplishment. Just be prepared for a hard slog scaling the summit.
Songs Of Praise distils the best features of classic British alternative music into a vital band passionate to enervate, communicate and entertain.
Tell Me How You Really Feel is a wonderfully curated record, which manages to be both cynical and whimsical at the same time. The depth of musical ambition and of poetic expression deserve a suitably large audience’s attention.
There is absolutely no doubting that Pastoral is a phenomenal piece of work. It’s a brilliantly informed artistic statement and a state of the nation address that cuts right through.
Be The Cowboy showcases over 14 tracks an artist who – along with producer and chief collaborator Patrick Hyland – rarely takes an obvious route to anything.
Much like their last album, Joy As An Act Of Resistance suggests Idles aren’t a particularly progressive band musically, but their sound is one with the absolute sincerity of their exploration of our culture and politics.
Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides does not remove all mystery, but is a powerful statement of identity, a shattering of traditional genre boundaries and nuanced, moving expressions of emotion where there once was an inscrutable deadpan. The fact that it all sounds so irresistibly good is the icing on the cake.
While there are other occasions ... where it all feels just a bit much, all in all The Blue Hour is a bold, accomplished effort from a band who still have plenty of ideas more than a quarter of century after they first emerged.
One of the year’s most intelligent, enjoyable albums, and cements her position as one of our most intriguing, interesting pop stars.
Honey is heart-on-sleeve, open-book emotional without being draining, like a Disintegration or a Blackstar: it’s heavy on the mind but light on the ears. It seems perfectly handmade for each listener, but never makes you feel isolated. It’s like your pass into a world of shining surfaces, neon lights and heartbreak.
Double Negative is an album that will endure for a long time. It’s a thrilling development that proves how Low continue to release music of extremely high standards, restlessly creative and never content to stand still.