Today we begin our countdown of the year’s best albums, based on the choices of our music writers.
We’ll cover 20 records today and tomorrow, before we reach the top five on Friday.
So, without further ado, we begin with 25 to 21.
25: Four Tet – Morning / Evening
Label: Text Records
Released: June 21, 2015
Kieran Hebden is an artist who has always pushed himself in new directions, whether it’s been his collaborations with the late jazz drummer Steve Reid, or his production work for Syrian Dabke great Omar Souleyman. But on his latest solo album as Four Tet, the London producer pushed himself in a more literal sense: to extend a musical idea from the usual four or five minutes to 20.
Composed of a ‘Morning Side’ and an ‘Evening Side’ of both around 20 minutes long, he takes Hebden’s unmatched ability to tease out a melody or motif over a pulsing rhythm is taken to new extremes. And it works, especially the evocative ‘Morning Side’, built around a sample of the late Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar. [NM]
24: The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It
Released: July 31, 2015
The fourth album from The Maccabees really saw the London indie band come into their own, combining varying signature elements of their previous three albums in what is an expansive, playful and immersive triumph.
The fact that the title track is the strongest on the album says it all. They’ve come a long way since they arrived on the British indie scene with the airy and bittersweet debut ‘Colour It In.’
Lyrically their strongest offering yet, the album certainly retains the exuberance of their early days but adds a layer of rawness, depth and confidence that sees them really let loose – as well as the addictive indie guitar riffs we’ve come to expect. [SS]
23: Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Released: January 15, 2015
Where would be without Belle & Sebastian? For nigh-on two decades, whilst indie music has moved through peaks and troughs – from the music of outsiders to a major label tag – the Glaswegian group have been a burgeoning beacon of light.
New B&S records resemble what the late, great John Peel said about The Fall: “They are always different; they are always the same”. Whilst Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance shows the group finding their feet in synthy beats and dance music rhythms on singles such as ‘The Party Line’ and ‘Perfect Couples’, it’s still Stuart Murdoch’s candid delivery that makes it distinctive.
Always teetering on the line between happiness and melancholy. Never change, Belle & Sebastian. [MDM]
22: Hooton Tennis Club – Highest Point In Cliff Town
Released: August 28, 2015
A Merseyside band with more in common with Pavement than The Beatles is a rare thing indeed, and one to be cherished, as Hooton Tennis Club’s debut album fused slacker jams about crosswords with the taut production of The Coral’s Bill Ryder-Jones.
‘Jasper’ remains one of the strongest tracks of 2015, and a ream of lackadaisical songs make it ideal fodder for lovelorn mixtape compilations. At times it may have pushed for the Stephen Malkmus template a little too obviously, but this Fab Four will be with us for some time. [AN]
21: Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
Label: Big Dada
Released: April 6, 2015
While 2014 saw the Edinburgh trio pick up a plethora of awards for their debut Dead – including the Mercury Prize, Scottish Album of the Year and even the WOW247 album of the 2014 – it could be argued that White Men Are Black Men Too is just as important.
Such a successful debut would have knocked plenty of other bands for six, but Young Fathers jumped straight back into the studio and crafted a sub-40 minute sonic cacophony. Although the polish of Dead may have been stripped back, what’s been left are the raw ingredients of a band still brimming with potential.
The single ‘Shame’ demonstrates their ability to create something spiky, but it’s tracks like ‘Still Running’ and ‘Rain Or Shine’ that show their knack for a twisted melody which lodges itself in your ear and outright refuses to move. [MDM]
What was your favourite album of 2015?
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