Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sweeping The Nation's Top 50 Albums Of 2017: 30-21

30 Lost Horizons - Ojalá
The return of Simon Raymonde, alongside Dif Juz's Richie Thomas, echoes not the Cocteaus as much as 4AD colleagues This Mortal Coil, a floating airiness of haunted, delicate beauty in texture, with effective cameos from Tim Smith, Marissa Nadler and Ghostpoet.

29 Jens Lekman - Life Will See You Now
In which the genre-hopping perennially self-questing storyteller gets over the heartbreak of I Know What Love Isn't, rediscovers his disco sample library and recovers both his lyrical hook-writing mojo and ultimate sense of optimism.

28 Piano Magic - Closure
Glen Johnson brought his ever shifting project to an end after twelve albums and twenty years with a valedictory lap of honour, nodding at post-rock, dreampop, baroque and ambient of things past to form a whole of ethereal, introspective heaviness. Godspeed.

27 Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
The grand return of DC punk in a heavily mutated form where instead of settling for screaming about equality the influence of jazz via no wave, surf and modern pop are brought to bear without leavening the poised targeting or lifting the heavy overhanging elements.

26 Meursault - I Will Kill Again
Neil Pennycook gave up the Meursault banner in 2014, but it turned out all it needed was a reclamation of his early full-hearted approach to anguish and lush brokenness while being simultaneously, weirdly life-affirming, all knitted together by that cracked voice.

25 Jen Cloher - Jen Cloher
Courtney Barnett's rise may have propelled Cloher into the spotlight four albums in, and the keen eye for detail is similar, but the propensity for self-examination and use of her domesticity as somewhere to view the plight of those home and abroad from are entirely her own strengths.

24 Gallops - Bronze Mystic
Wrexham's answer to Battles reformed after three years away and blast back with a record that liberally pelts mathrock with warped electronics, arrhythmic rhythms and harsh synths and guitar stabs that either stand triumphant or sound like they want to pull the whole place down bare-handed.

23 Sufjan Stevens/Nico Muhly/Bryce Dessner/James McAlister - Planetarium
A 76-minute classical suite on the cosmos, everybody! A shapeshifting rich swirl that cleaves close to Sufjan's own eclectic work (particularly The Age Of Adz), it ranges wildly from new age to folk to techno, leaving nothing to spare and still all anchored to earthly concerns.

22 Rose Elinor Dougall - Stellular
Six and a half years after her solo debut Dougall remains what she was - swooning, sophisticated, shimmering, spacey - but with a more evident electropop sheen that her intrinsic ice-coolness carries through whether referencing Broadcast or Blondie.

21 Warm Digits - Wireless World
Motorik dystopia never seemed so approachable as when approached by the Newcastle duo, a polyrhythmic, propulsive collection whose collapsible charges and electronic pulses only hold back for vocalists including Sarah Cracknell and Field Music's Peter Brewis.

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