Its almost 2016 and therefore, almost the end of our feature. So, here is the first of our final three writers, the music team’s James Buckwell, giving us the lowdown on his top albums of 2015:
Jamie xx – In Colour
Whether the release of 2014’s “All Under One Roof Raving” coinciding with the revival of 90’s sportswear was a coincidence or not, it is certain that the following year’s debut album was a fitting ode to the euphoric decade most of us were born in. Channeling the minimalist ethics of his originating band “The xx”, In Colour is a flick through a sonic history book of dance culture up to the present day. The genius of the album for me was each track’s perfectly contemporary sound, whilst being based upon clips of dance records from the past four decades. Take one of the album’s biggest tracks, “(I Know There’s Gonna Be) Good Times”, which samples the hook of The Persuasions’ classic 70s disco track, whilst Atlanta rapper Young Thug, and dancehall hopeful Popcaan trade off verses on top, concluding with a trip back across the pond to UK grime artist Novelist. In a time where most dance albums seem to consist of EDM chart-friendly singles, sandwiched between record-label pushed album fillers, In Colour was a refreshing reminder of what music fans yearned for in 2015.
Top 2 Tracks: “Gosh”, “Obvs”
Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
After simmering in the indie support circuit for the best part of three years, it feels like the North London band’s debut had been more than a long time coming. After proving themselves as an exceptional live band in the summer of 2014, My Love is Cool proved their abilities as songwriters and exceeded the hype surrounding them. Showcasing their perfect juxtaposition of loud and quiet throughout, highlights include: future grunge anthem “Giant Peach”, with its driving riff; “Freazy” with its disco shuffle and two fingers up to the haters lyric of “You can hate us all you want but it don’t mean nothing at all”; and a reworked version of live classic “Bros” – reminiscent of endless summers as a teen. The only negative of the album is the amount which it makes me yearn to be 16 years old with an endless summer ahead of me again.
Top 2 Tracks: “Giant Peach”, “Lisbon”
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
Toronto’s Abel Tesfaye, has covertly been building up a huge following over the last few years, managing to sell-out The O2 at the tail end of 2013, – despite no huge chart success – however, Beauty Behind the Madness was sure to change that. The lyrical content has not changed much from that of the previous albums, with its funky narcotic ode of “I Can’t Feel My Face” to the seductive warble of “Acquainted”. One thing that has changed is the minimalist nature of past – now with high levels of production, flourishing instrumentals, and all-star features from the likes of Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran, you’d be mistaken at times for thinking you were listening to remastered, posthumous Michael Jackson material. It was because of this that for me, “Beauty Behind the Madness” was the perfect pop album of 2015.
Top 2 Tracks: “Acquainted”, “The Hills”
Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Following a lengthy time away from the public eye since 2011’s Ceremonials, this year signaled a welcome return to Great Britain’s Queen of indie-pop – Florence Welch. Being myself lucky enough to attend the Tufnell Park gig at the start of the year, it was evident from hearing the opening riff of lead single “What Kind of Man” to the refrain of “St Jude”, that Flo had poured years of heartache into this album – admitting herself in interviews that writing it had been a form of therapy. A somewhat more mature-sounding record, HBHBHB was the obvious progression to catapult the band into the festival headliner big-leagues – proved through their triumphant performance topping the bill at Glastonbury this year. I just can’t wait to see where they take us next.
Top 2 Tracks: “Queen of Peace”, “St Jude”
Ellie Goulding – Delirium
Coming in at a staggering 90 minutes for the Deluxe Edition, and bursting to the seams with shimmering Britney-esque production – Delirium certainly met its objective being a “big pop album” when it was announced back in September. Despite not signaling a major departure from where the repackaged version of “Halcyon” left off, Goulding roped in some of our current world-class songwriters in the form of Ryan Tedder (One Republic) and Max Martin (who produced Shake it Off), giving way to a surefire success. The album has the perfect mixture of galloping festival anthems – in the form of “Something in the Way You Move” and “Holding on For Life”, as well as the bombastic arena ballads she’s achieved international success with in the last year- such as the future chart hit “Army”. Ellie Goulding’s transformation from acoustic singer-songwriter to international pop megastar has been a rapid one and is testament to her knowing exactly where she wants to be from the start. This has always been on her own terms and the molding of Ellie’s trademark sound to create a hugely successful pop album, is why I think Delirium is one of 2015’s greatest successes.
Top 2 Tracks: “Something in the Way You Move”, “Army”