WOW247’s Best Albums of 2015: 15 – 11
albums of 2015

We continue our countdown of the year’s best albums, based on the choices of our team of music writers.

So far we covered 25 – 21 and 20 – 16.

Now it’s 15 – 11…

15: Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

Label: Harbinger Sound
Released: July 24, 2015

Sleaford Mods have been like a shot in the arm for the tired, predictable merry-go-round that is the British alternative music scene. And it’s not difficult to put your finger on why they’ve gained such a loyal following since their 2013 breakthrough record, Austerity Dogs: they’re simply one of the few bands ready and willing to face down Cameron’s Britain with uncompromising authenticity, dripping cynicism and the blackest of black humour.

Andrew Fearn’s spare post-punk beats form a no-bullshit backdrop for Jason Williamson to perform – and anyone who’s seen them live will get the emphasis on that word – his sardonic jabs and outraged upper cuts. Key Markets was no leap forward from the previous year’s Divide And Exit – but who needs to leap anywhere when you’ve carved out your own unmistakable niche? [NM]

14: Foals – What Went Down

Label: Transgressive
Released: August 28, 2015

If ever there was a ‘sound’ destined for the Mercury Prize shortlist, it’s the considered math-pop of Foals. Then again, if there was ever a band to subvert the whole thing and not be considered at all, it’s also Foals.

What Went Down may have missed out in November, but Foals’ most well-rounded album continued to prove that ‘maturity’ needn’t be a dirty word in music, with some of the band’s most exciting output to date. [AN]

13: FFS – FFS

Label: Domino
Released: June 9, 2015

On paper, it was a Frankenstein monster of a record. The combination of the angular Glaswegian indie of Franz Ferdinand with the flamboyant outsider pop of L.A’s Sparks seemed like a clash of styles too discordant to ever make anything coherent. What we got was a beautiful theatrical pop album, dripping with wit and clever lines.

Not so much a meeting of styles, more like two bands attempting to perform the same tracks at once, FFS was a resounding success. Russell Mael and Alex Kapranos are both chewing the scenery and clearly enjoying the operatic nature of it all.

Tracks such as ‘Police Encounters’ and the meta-collaborative ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ feel like compositions from a Mel Brooks musical that has yet to be written – whilst ‘Johnny Delusional’ may boast the finest lyric of the year: “Some might find me borderline attractive from afar”. [MDM]

12: The Libertines – Anthems for Doomed Youth

Label: Virgin EMI
Released: September 11, 2015

We all pressed play with baited breath on the third studio album from The Libertines. Their first new material in over a decade, the fans prayed for it to be great and the skeptics willed it to be a mess.

Luckily for the fans, the boys in the band delivered. Providing some of their best material yet in with comeback single ‘Gunga Din’, their trademark shambolic sound was only improved by the maturity that comes after an eleven-year hiatus. ‘Heart of the Matter’ is an entire song devoted to the unlikelihood of their rediscovered success. “With all the battering it’s taking, I’m surprised it’s still ticking,” Pete Doherty sings. But it is ticking, and with vigour. [SS]

11: Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear

Label: Bella Union
Released: February 10, 2015

On his second album as Father John Misty, Josh Tillman’s self-styled womanising persona has been curtailed by the fact that he’s falling in love with his wife Emma, and the result is a record that pulls off the tricky feat of oozing genuine romance without every crossing the line into mawkishness. But then again Father John Misty is far too cynical a character to ever be guilty of that transgression; instead, his cynicism is directed at the world outside this romantic bubble: “People are boring, but you’re something else,” he sings on ‘Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)’.

It also sounds sumptuous: backed by an orchestra and the odd burst of mariachi trumpets, Tillman is like some kind of post-modern Scott Walker, while on ‘True Affection’ this lush symphonic sound is embellished with subtle synths and programmed beats. Following a series of unremarkable solo albums under his given name and a stint drumming in Fleet Foxes, with I Love You Honeybear Tillman has reached a new level of musical accomplishment. [NM]

Contributors: Nick Mitchell, Matthew Dunne-Miles, Alex NelsonSiobhan Smith

The top 25 so far

25: Four Tet – Morning / Evening
24: The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It
23: Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
22: Hooton Tennis Club – Highest Point In Cliff Town
21: Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
20: Metz – II
19: Tame Impala – Currents
18: Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
17: Kagoule – Urth
16: Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars
15: Sleaford Mods – Key Markets
14: Foals – What Went Down
13: FFS – FFS
12: The Libertines – Anthems for Doomed Youth
11: Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear

What was your favourite album of 2015?

We want to hear your choice for the best album of the year. Have your say by tweeting #wow247 or posting a comment on our Facebook page.