Hi everyone. It has been exciting sharing my thoughts with you for a brief moment in 2014. I’m stoked to be able to take a full swing with this blog in 2015. I want to end the year with my annual favorite albums list. This list in no way reflects what I think are the best albums of the year (while many are) but instead which albums I truly loved in 2014. I hope you enjoy the list!
10) Clazziquai Project – Blink
The Korean electronic trio put out yet another great album this year. The combination of Alex’s smooth melodies, Horan’s smoky vocals and Clazzi’s slick beats consistently get me dancing. The album often feels like you’re at a futuristic jazz club. Clazziquai always blend R&B, dance, pop and electronic in a way that is all their own.
Must Have Tracks — Still I’m by Your Side, Life etc.
9) Perfume Genius – Too Bright
Too Bright is a phenomenal followup album to Put Your Back N 2 It. This album sees Mike Hadreas expanding his sound beyond the contemplative piano reflections of the last album. “Queen”, “Grid” and “My Body” are bold new rock-styled statements from Hadreas. Too Bright has all the intimate lyricism of past works but has an added energy that carries Perfume Genius into brave new territory.
Must Have Tracks – Queen, Too Bright
8) Broods – Evergreen
The New Zealand brother-sister duo blew up on the internet in 2013 with their single ‘Bridges’. On Evergreen, Georgia’s serene vocals grace over Caleb’s glossy synths. The album goes from reflective downtempo on “Killing You” to silky pop on “Superstar”. Broods incorporate their downtempo/trip-hop influences beautifully into a pop structure. The result is a lush, melodious journey over a crisp musical landscape.
Must Have Tracks – Bridges, Mother & Father
7) Émilie Simon – Mue
Émilie always tries to craft something unique with each album. Mue is no different. This album is her most sensual and evocative work yet. It’s no surprise that after the melancholy tones on her last album Simon returned with a more upbeat and intimate showing. Mue is Simon’s most cohesive and refined album to date. Pour yourself a bath, have a glass of wine, put on Mue and relax.
Must Have Tracks – Encre, Menteur
6) Charli XCX – Sucker
Sucker is one of those albums that’s just pure fun. It’s punk-rock pop at its best. Each song has banging beats and brash chorus hooks. Charli gives us party anthem after party anthem. Her irreverent lyrics dance over guitar riffs and 70’s drum beats. Who doesn’t love a pop album with an anthem about masturbation?
Must Have Tracks – London Queen, Gold Coins, Break The Rules
5) Madi Diaz – Phantom
Madi Diaz has come a long way since her Skin and Bone days. She has gone from being a folk singer to a full fledged electronic pop songstress. Her songs still maintain her folksy lyricism but she has transformed her sound to encompass pop, electronic, rock and blues all at the same time. I can only hope that Madi continues her trend to grow and experiment with each new release.
Must Have Tracks – Tomorrow, Dancing in the Dark
4) The Shoe – I’m Okay
I had no idea that Jena Malone had a band. I listened to this album on Spotify and fell in love with it without knowing she was the vocalist. I’m Okay is a great low-fi pop album filled with catchy hooks. It’s a nice quiet album to put on when you want to relax to something sweet. Malone’s saccharine vocals and Lem Jay’s uncomplicated melodies offer up a perfect rainy day pop treat.
Must Have Tracks – Paper Cup, Dead Rabbit Hopes
3) Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
1000 Forms of Fear is the pop album Sia always wanted to write. She has always said she wanted to write radio-friendly pop songs and I think she finally achieved her goals with this album. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated how much of a hit “Chandelier” was. The only reason this album isn’t higher on the list is that it doesn’t feel cohesive. It was written over a 4 year span so it’s no wonder why some tracks feel drastically different. That being said, the album has some of the most powerful songs the goddess has ever written and some of her best vocal performances.
Must Have Tracks- Fire Meet Gasoline, Burn the Pages, Dressed In Black
2) How To Dress Well – “What Is This Heart?”
Tom Krell is some sort of sick genius. Each track is a multi-layered R&B masterpiece. Krell’s lyrics are just as affecting here as in his previous work. “What Is This Heart?” brings into question the meaning of starting a relationship and how our relationships change us over the course of our lives. From the bleak desperation of “Face Again” to the flirtatious “Repeat Pleasure”, Krell shows us a full scope of emotion in his soundscapes. On this album Krell demonstrates that he can make structured songs while still maintaining his experimental sensibilities.
Must Have Tracks – Repeat Pleasure, Precious Love, Very Best Friend
1) Lykke Li – I Never Learn
Lykke Li called out to my soul this year. I honestly have no idea how she manages to make an outstanding album each and every time. Lykke gives us an era gone by in her uncanny ability to channel the spirits of the 50’s and 60’s. Each ballad on this album is perfect. Song after song echoes the heartbreak of a weathered lover. There is something timeless and true in her lyrics. Each year I pick my top album if it has that magical staying power. Since I listened to this album, I keep coming back to it again and again. Like a siren on the sea, Lykke calls to me with tracks like “Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone” and “Just Like a Dream”. Everyone has had their heart broken at one time or another. I Never Learn speaks to our unending desire to find the love that every movie, love and and Valentine’s Day tells us is out there.
Must Have Tracks – Gunshot, Never Gonna Love Again, Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone