So, let’s be frank: this year was not the best for social and political equality.
But something good DID come out of 2017, and it came in the form of impeccable music. Competition was high this year – but here at CLiKD, we’ve narrowed down some of the very best albums from the past 12 months…did any make it onto your list?
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
This album is an absolute masterpiece. Featuring nasal harmonies and psych soul weaved intricately between untouchable beats, tangible storytelling and phenomenal rhymes. It’s a solid record that has been dipped in constant energy and, as usual, on point wordplay. DAMN is a fluid combination of old-school, new-school and the eerie future. From this, Kendrick has set a standard for hip-hop that his successors will surely struggle to match, as he reaches towards something otherworldly and perhaps even spiritual. The album tackles 21st century society, head-on, whilst being politically aware and also including a sneaky piss-take towards Drake. DAMN!
Gorillaz – Humanz
After a 6 year wait for fans, Gorillaz drop this. Where do I start? Albarn & co. have managed to pick the most exquisite collaborators possible, from Vince Staples to Benjamin Clementine. When you thought it couldn’t get much better, they covered an absurd number of topics for a world gone mad themed album. From western military intervention in the Middle East, to China’s supposed hogwash of global warming; the album takes the listener on a dystopian journey. ‘We Got The Power’ placed in there for some much needed intense optimism and Albarn makes nods to his Britpop past. The majority of the album was composed on an iPad and each contributor was asked “Imagine a night where everything that you believed in was turned on its head. How would you feel?”. The result? Pain, joy and urgency. Humanz is the most ingenious and creative move they could have made this year.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Polygondwanaland
King Gizzard absolutely HAD to be on this list. If not for this jewel of a record, then for their top-notch effort over 2017. The band released a whopping four albums this year and, although they were all magical in their own ways, I believe they saved the best till last. The psychedelic rock band are able to unlock further creative milestones with each album they release, and ‘Polygondwanaland’ does not disappoint. It is, of course, a kaleidoscope journey featuring rendezvous with surreal creatures, “Men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders.” The instruments cast spells as they drag the listener deeper into an immersive, outlandish musical trip.
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
I’m going to put this out there and say that this the best debut album of 2017. It’s witty, striking and raw. British hip-hop has been lacking when compared to its American counter-part. So, the world of music welcomed Loyle Carner with open arms this year, and thank goodness for that! Instead of a big ego teamed with a pinch of malice, we’ve been treated to an album full of candor and sensitivity. Perhaps the most precocious part about it, is the depiction of Loyle Carner’s relationship with his mother. Her poem in ‘Sun of Jean’ is particularly heartwarming, a cherished insight into the person behind the artist; ‘He was and is a compete joy. The world is his, that scribble of a boy’. Listening to this album is like listening to a diary entry, a poetic array of inner musings set against jazzy backdrops and mournful piano extracts. I don’t know what he’ll bring next, but there’s no doubt it’ll be sensational.
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
I have a (one sided) love affair with Laura Marling that’s been intense since the days of ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’. This album focuses on womanhood; from evolving identities, to relationships and regret. Marling has created arguably her most articulate album to date, fixating beautifully on what it means to be a female in today’s society. Her change in tone on this record is particularly refreshing. Instead of being at odds with everyone and anyone around her, she is gently reflective of the past and fondly lingering on the prospect of freedom; “Lately I’m wondering if all my pondering is taking up too much ground”.’ If her excessive ‘pondering’ is that which results in blissful jazz, subtle dark strings and electrified blues, then I encourage it wholeheartedly.
So, those are our top 5 pics for a 2017 music round-up. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of others to add and maybe we’ve introduced you to some new sounds. Can’t wait to see what musicality 2018 has in store for us.