Here’s a wild concept for you: a list on the internet.
Something different for this end of season Sunday. A list of six albums, in no particular order, of albums that really floated my boat and buttered my toast in 2019, records which defined this chaotic year, and that will remain with me for years to come.
- Alex Cameron – Miami Memory
My expectations for Alex Cameron’s third album were high. His sophomore effort Forced Witness was one of the best albums of 2017 and remained on repeat during 2018. It remains on repeat for me now. Still, from the first teaser track Miami Memory had me hooked. The strange, cyclical beat of the title track was almost off-putting at first, but the lyrics kept me coming back to that hypnotic beat and it dragged me deep down into the maw of the song. Other singles, Divorce and Far From Born Again, had less challenging instrumentals and Cameron at his poetic best, but it’s the final track of the album Too Far – a bare and beautiful ode to his long term girlfriend and muse of the entire album which ties the whole thing up and confirms Miami Memory as an unmissable package deal.
- MUNA – Saves The World
If you’ve got room in your life for some emotionally earnest throwback pop in your life, you have to check out MUNA’s latest effort. This is one of the albums that I didn’t really give the time it deserved when it was released. Despite loving teaser track Number One Fan I didn’t get into any of the deep cuts, but recently I’ve had this record on repeat. Taking influence from 90’s pop, contemporaries The 1975, and even synthwave, this is a bright but angsty record with some huge hooks that have kept me coming back for more.
- King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats Nest
King Gizz… are a band which always been on the periphery of my musical tastes, sometimes meandering lazily into territory which I considered to be twee and trite and, honestly, a bit annoying, whilst elsewhere forging some creative genre blurring bangers (see their other 2019 album Fishing for Fishies for examples of both). On Infest the Rats Nest they dived deep into a genre that I’m not exactly a expert on: thrash metal. And. Well. It’s fucking amazing. Themed around the doomed Earth (Planet B), super plagues (Superbug), and the rich fleeing to Mars (Mars for the Rich), Infest… is a conceptual, heavy, and extremely satisfying album that sets a flaming pace early on and keeps burning throughout.
- Denzel Curry – ZUU
Here’s an album of complete bangers. Yes, it is elevated by the fact that Curry is a top tier lyricist, as can be seen through the familial wisdom dished on lead single RICKY but what kept this record on repeat for me is the energy, the sound, the completely massive vibe that is generated throughout. BIRDZ and CAROLMART have graced my workout playlists throughout the year, and I can’t imagine they’ll be going anywhere in 2020.
- Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
An artist who’s been on a upward trajectory over the past few years, Tyler has never been far from the headlines, but at times it has felt like his antics have distracted from his music, and that the music has at times failed to live up to the hype. But with his previous album Flower Boy it felt like Tyler was on the way to being the artist he really wanted to be, the artist he was meant to be. With IGOR all that expectation finally lands, and it lands a galaxy away from the viral video smash YONKERS which sent his fame into the stratosphere. IGOR is best experienced as a whole, it is a fluid experience which details a troubled relationship over the course of the record, starting with the dirty synth squelch of opener IGOR’S THEME all the way through to the smooth Motown licks of ARE WE STILL FRIENDS? It is a fluid balance of Tyler’s eclectic influences, his raw, vulnerable voice, and top notch production. In a time when many of Tyler’s contemporaries are focused on knocking out playlist-fodder feature focused viral smashes, it is a relief to hear him deliver such a focused and complete project.
- W. H. Lung – Incidental Music
The least well known artist on my list, W. H. Lung are a three-piece from Manchester who, to my ears, have forged some of the most hypnotic and intoxicating music of the past few years. Debut album Incidental Music is a simmering and expansive slice of synth-rock taking inspiration from Krautrock, The Talking Heads, and LCD Soundsystem. The expansive style that they employ, with songs slowly unfurling and burning and exploring, is reminiscent of The War on Drugs, and the absolute joy I got from listening to 2014’s Lost in the Dream returned with W. H. Lung’s debut. Inspiration was the first track I heard from this band, back in 2017, and when it finally turned up on an album two years later I was thrilled to hear it sounded just as fantastic, and that it had a whole project wrapped lovingly around it to back it up.