The 10 Best Albums of 2015
By Diana Lupica
Carrie and Lowell – Sufjan Stevens
Carrie and Lowell is music for the soul and it will both warm your heart and kill your senses. Titled after Stevens’ parents and clearly an ode to them, this album feels like a gift of intimate and delicately chosen soundscapes. Him saying that the record “is not my art project; this is my life”, makes it even more like Carrie and Lowell is a throbbing part of Stevens’. Sometimes hopeful, sometimes not (“We’re all gonna die”), the record is an arrangement of blood, tears, unexpected swear words and brilliant mythological references. It’s heartbreakingly real and beautiful.
Currents – Tame Impala
It’s no doubt that Currents is possibly the best album of the year. The Australian band has carefully chiseled their already mind-blowing psychedelia and with this record they visibly transcended from loneliness to heartbreak. Kevin Parker’s despair blends with sheer optimism over synth modulations and guitar riffs and it just sounds better than ever. Fittingly starting with the exceptional “Let it happen”, a complex anthem that made history, Currents by far stands out in the sea of burned out, pseudo-synthpop. Immaculate, shimmering and authentic, Tame Impala’s album is a gem.
Rodeo – Travis Scott
You’re in for a ride with Scott’s new album. Rodeo is the pinnacle of Travis Scott’s work since he came in stumbling into the rap industry. Funnily enough, he might not be able to rap as well as other fellow rappers, but instead, Scott makes Rodeo something that is more than just a rap album. It’s an alternative-trap sound with a rap undertone, along with distorted vocals for added texture, rich details, second acts that sometimes leave you baffled and even piano outros. I will have to attribute the greatness of this album, however, to guests like Kanye West, Juicy J, 2 Chainz and Future and pop singers The Weeknd and Justin Bieber who undoubtedly steal the show. Don’t expect witty or inventive verses, because you will have to settle for “Call your friends let’s get drunk” and “I be flying high”, but it’s so easy to jam to that it makes for the perfect guilty pleasure. Actually, ditch the guilty. It’s a masterpiece; to quote Scott on this one, “it’s lit”.
Honeymoon – Lana Del Rey
Del Rey went full-on Lana with Honeymoon and it couldn’t sound any better. Darker than Ultraviolence, this album is about love as an addiction and a bizarre luxurious mourning. While it is as dreamy and melancholic as Lana gets, there is a hint of ecstatic anguish in “The Blackest Day” and “High By The Beach” and it can feel a bit gothic. It’s a cluster of emotions thrown together into the mix of cinematic strings and hopeful sorrow and we even see glimpses of the Lizzy Grant days. Lana Del Rey has once again given her audience what it needed: epic, messed-up, sad tracks.
Depression Cherry – Beach House
One of the first lines on the album is “There’s a place I want to take you”, from opener “Levitation”, and the album does just that. Depression Cherry will do nothing more than take you to a world bursting with nostalgia and sentimentality. The dim tones in the Beach House sound are magical and you will learn to love their happy-sad music. The progressive lush sounds, the ethereal melody of the synths and guitars and Victoria Legrand’s angelic whisper… I will go as far as to say that Depression Cherry is a perfect, whole album. There are builds, peaks, drops and all sorts of aches that come along with the band’s distinct softness. Add to the mix lyrics like “Were you ever lost?/ Was she ever found?” and you’ve got yourself an album for self-discovery. Legrand is taking you, or better, grabbing you on her dreamy adventure with kaleidoscope glasses on and honestly, what would you want more?
Wiped Out! – The Neighbourhood
Wiped Out! comes across as a greatly put together and polished album, but it still has the distinguishable sound we’ve familiarised ourselves with since I Love You. Mixing pop, rock and rap together, The Neighbourhood gives their fans the consistency they are used to and at the same time, they ultimately defined their sound as a band. Wiped Out! is all kinds of cool: it’s Jesse Rutherford’s gripping vocals, a vivid R&B underlying tone and a particular urgency. “The Beach” and “Daddy Issues” are your best friends for driving and chill.
Badlands – Halsey
Halsey is the new icon in town that is something of a badass. Badlands, the debut album of the 20-year-old Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, is catchy, dark and has some incredible Tumblr-worthy lyrics. We live the stories she tells through alternative-R&B, trip-hop, metaphors or solely bluntness. Merge together Lana Del Rey and Lorde and you’ve got yourself a very colourful, poetic and outspoken Halsey who actually evokes Del Rey in “New Americana” and “Drive”. Oh, and the legendary “You were red, and you liked me because I was blue/ But you touched me and suddenly I was a lilac sky/ Then you decided purple just wasn’t for you”? That’s Halsey.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – Drake
Champagne Papi’s popular If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late had to be mentioned. With hypnotic beats and a moody aesthetic, Drake outdid himself with this one. And how could you not like it, when Drake does his thing when every song on the mixtape is on fire? Featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR, Lil Wayne and Travis Scott, the album showcases 6God at his best making captivating and sensual numbers like “Now & Forever” and “Wednesday Night Interlude”. Overrated? I think not.
Beauty Behind The Madness – The Weeknd
Beauty Behind The Madness is bomb, that is if you consider The Weeknd to be a completely different artist from House of Balloons Weeknd. The reinvented Abel Tesfaye is embracing his mainstream self by literally burying himself in the “Tell Your Friends” music video and so we’ve said goodbye to his underground era. However, you can still take a peek at Tesfaye’s ghost in “Acquainted” and “Shameless” amidst the sea of pop: “In The Night”, “The Hills” or the annoyingly infamous “Can’t Feel My Face”. BBTM is vibrant, memorable and it sells.
All We Need – Raury
Indie, folk and rap? Count me in. At only 19, Raury managed to make a killer debut album and he should give himself a pat on the back. There are enthralling pop songs like “Friends” and “CPU” and then darker ones, such as “Forbidden Knowledge”. All We Need is a statement in itself, a statement viewed through a teenage and rebellious mind that is searching for the perfect balance between genres, opposing sounds and tendencies for flower child vibes. The record flows and Raury proves himself to be the refreshing, new artist we didn’t know we needed.