Albums of 2019

It's the big one!

It’s a big one!

Is it just us, or with so much music now at our fingertips and how streaming is taking over the ritual of music, it’s getting harder and harder to actually listen to an album. It feels almost like an indulgence – and it shouldn’t. Are our attention spans so short these days that we can only do a track or EPs worth at best, and a few seconds or minutes at worst? Apparently so – and it sucks.

So here’s a few of our absolute favourite collections of the year; they’re powerful, original, and wholly worth your time.

20. Spielbergs – This Is Not The End

These progressive Norwegians have been on the radar for a while, this release could be the one to propel them to superstardom. The level of proficiency required to combine hooks with fuzz and grit is commendable. Each and every song on this album has single potential, maybe 2020 will be the year they become a house hold name! Ben Adsett

19. SWMRS – Berkley’s On Fire

It’s been quite the year for SWMRS, a whole lotta touring and the release of their fourth studio album. Full of high energy earworms that will have you humming away to yourself for days, SWMRS have done well to top their previous material and show tha tthere is plenty more to come from these guys. Samantha Daly

18. Bat For Lashes – ‘Lost Girls

It’s been a while since we’d heard anything from Bats For Lashes; the artist – better known as Natasha Khan – had been almost suspiciously quiet since her 2016 fourth album The Bride. Taking a respite from music to pursue a film career in scriptwriting, her new L.A home quickly sparked her creative juices.

Once again opting to embody a character to flex her writing muscles, Khan took her musing to an altogether more spooky route with Lost Girls. The album deftly puns cult vampire flick The Lost Boys as Khan delves into life (or death?) as a feminine and fanged wanderer of the night. Infused with synths, funk guitar and a bit of cowbell, her inspo is undeniably 80s, however the striking ‘Hunger’ captures urgent carnality in its bassline and audible desire. Don’t sleep on this (or at all). Kayleigh Watson

17. Crywank – Wearing Beige On A Grey Day

While not for everyone, fully independent anti-folk duo Crywank have been consistently crafting relateable and often harrowing sounds about sadness, depression, existentialism and other cheery subjects. Their intimate sound and unfiltered nature is just as prevalent on Wearing Beige on a Grey Day as ever, and their sixth release sees the band continue to confront us with the inner monologues of frontman James Clayton.

Tracks like ‘I’ll Have Some In a Bit’ and ‘It Was A Swift Not a Swallow’ pack the biggest punch, and the album probably sees the outfit catchier music than they have in the past, but the underlying anxiety and depth that Crywank’s music is now characterised by makes it a truly captivating listen. Kieran Rogers

16. Slaughter Beach Dog – Safe and Also No Fear

Some releases just ooze sunshine, this is most definitely one of this years finest examples. Jake Ewald has created a release that is both nostalgic and progressive which is no mean feat. His grasp of wordplay and musical composition has come to fruition with this release which flows effortlessly from start to finish. The combination of power pop, Americana and straight up singer songwriter sounds make this a career defining release! Ben Adsett

15. Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles

It’s fair to say that Sam Fender has fully dominated the mainstream indie scene this year. The album has taken guitar music and thrust it back into the limelight that it so deserves, you’ll struggle to find a household that hasn’t heard of Fender nowadays, which is quite the feat compared to this time last year. There’s so many factors that signal a successful album campaign… but the album itself is good too. Refreshingly pointing his lyrics narratively at social issues that deserve a platform, Sam has a lot more to him then a great set of vocal chords. Samantha Daly

14. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

With elements of Tame Impala, Scott Walker and Radiohead, All Mirrors is not what you’d have expected from Angel Olsen when she first appeared with the delicately beautiful Strange Cacti in 2010. But it was on that EP, on ‘If It’s Alive, It Will’, where she first referenced the theme of this album; “I’ll hold your mirror up, all you have to do is turn around, so you can see the face you make when you are giving out your soul. Are you the only one who doesn’t already know?”

Now those mirrors are turned on her, and it’s her soul on display but she’s in control. From her pain, she’s crafted the most exciting, visceral, urgent, heartbreaking and emotional album she’s ever released – and that’s saying something. Tobias Pugh

13. So Sensitive – Bedroom Drama

So Sensitive are an outfit that truly appeared from nowhere in 2019. Their sound is accomplished and their vision clear, with Bedroom Drama – the debut collection by songwriter and vocalist Kira Clark and drummer and producer Keith McGraw – being one of the largely-missed sleeper albums of the year.

Pure and potent alt-pop imbued with lush synths and irresistible hooks, lead singles ‘What’s A Girl To Do?’ and ‘My Heart Is Open’ grabbed attention, not least for their thoughtful examination of the female experience. The album cleverly and clearly depicts a multifaceted image of femininity, relationships, self-hate, power dynamics, attachment and more. If you appreciate pop, So Sensitive are worth your attention. Kayleigh Watson

12. Circa Waves – What’s It Like Over There?

This is an album that came out of nowhere for me. Having always had Circa Waves on my radar, I think I accidentally stumbled across a track somewhere and decided to give the album a go and it blew my mind. From storming hits like ‘Sorry I’m Yours’ and ‘Movies’ to the nuanced intimacy of ‘Passport’ this is an indie rock album that has everything and then some. Kieran Rogers

11. Cultdreams – Things That Hurt

Cultdreams changed their name and pushed their sound even further in 2019. Lyrically, this release is raw and powerful and musically the composition is of the highest standard. The effortless nature that shoegaze walls of noise interact with hooks and the power of post hardcore is an absolute joy, the honest emotive word play is sure to bring a lump to your throat this is their best release to date but it sounds like there is so much more to come. Ben Adsett

10. Bon Iver – i,i

Completely meeting and then exceeding expectations, Bon Iver‘s latest full length is northing short of a masterpiece. Not many albums are worth the time of a sit down listen in full… and then a couple more times on repeat. It loops seamlessly by the way. Arguably, this album deserves a much higher spot than what we’re giving it and not many words could do it justice. Samantha Daly

9. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

“Dogrel” is an old form of poetry popular with the Irish working class, unrecognised by the establishment and often cited as primitive or monotonous – or “pub poetry”. Though meant as an insult, it’s the perfect title for Fontaines D.C to embrace on their electrifying debut album.

From the first word of “Dublin”, between those excited repeated verses, their scenes and colloquialisms, this album is proud of its heritage. That kind of “pub poetry” helps their storytelling thrive, where simple words paint vivid pictures of love, violence, culture, escapism, drugs and pubs when sung. Atop urgent instrumentals, they mix the dirty with the beautiful, finding each in the other. Tobias Pugh

8. WOAHNOWS – Young and Cool 

With Young and Cool, Woahnows continued to show they are the one of the most important bands in the country. Amongst these beautifully crafted slices of perfect pop punk are lyrics which tackle gender, love and the current political climate with a delicate touch. This record may be short and sweet but Woahnows have plenty say within this delightfully crafted release. Ben Adsett

7. Martha – Love Keeps Kicking

For me personally, Martha are indisputably my band of 2019. From their chaotic live shows to their unabashedly earnest third album Love Keeps Kicking. The album is as good as anything released this year in my opinion, from its tactful and fun pop culture references, to the infectious energy of tracks like ‘Wrestlemania VIII’ and its title track. Love Keeps Kicking is one of the most fun and poignant releases of the year.  Kieran Rogers

6. FKA Twigs – Magdeline

FKA Twigs has featured on a lot of our year’s end lists, but it’s understandable; the artist has a wide-reaching spectrum when it comes to her creativity. However, unlike a lot of artists who indulge in expansive videos and eye-catching aesthetics, Twigs’ music comes first and foremost. It’s why she hasn’t released an album since her 2014 debut, and with the influence of her 2015 EP M3LL155X lingering so long, there seemed to be no rush.

Traversing archetypes via the historically twisted narrative of the Bible’s Mary Magdeline, Twigs found catharsis in her songwriting. Across tracks such as the tumultuous ‘sad day’, snarling ‘fallen alien’ and the Future-featuring stomp of ‘holy terrain’, Twigs ventures into all of her prior incarnations. That she still succeeds in conjuring a sincere and heart wrenching narrative across such disparate soundscapes is a testament to her as a songwriter. Kayleigh Watson

5. The S.L.P. – The S.L.P.

Potentially the most surprising album of the year. Kasabian’s Serge went it alone and created an album that is not confined by any genre. Upon listening to it it’s difficult to draw any kind of relation or comparison to his work with Kasabian… but that’s the point, isn’t it. Infusing splashes of grime, trance, pop, dance and indie altogether, but also entirely seperate. Serge has proven himself to be an incredibly versatile musician and songwriter. Samantha Daly

4. Billie Eilish – when we all fall asleep where do we go? 

Unfortunately during the past two weeks, Billie Eilish was cancelled on Twitter and we can no longer talk about her music on Clout. This is super sad because she definitely released one of the best albums this year, was one of the most exciting artists in a generation, one that changed everything on the soundscape of what was popular and moved conversations about mental health into the mainstream – all while never compromising on her vision and art. She just shouldn’t have insulted Lady Gaga’s dress. Sad. Tobias Pugh

3. CHILDCARE – Wabi-Sabi

It’s rare that you hear an album that more or less every track on it leeches onto your head at one point or another. Stacked full of huge tunes with immense replay value Wabi-Sabi was a huge debut album for CHILDCARE to continue to establish themselves with following stellar single and EP releases in the past.

CHILDCARE’s sound sits uncomfortably somewhere between alternative pop, indie rock and punk somehow, with idiosyncratic, artistic tendencies splashed over it. Wabi-Sabi stands out because for all of its style and what people may perceive to be pretentiousness, there are buckets and buckets full of substance to back it up. Kieran Rogers

2. Charli XCX – Charli

It’s been a whole five years since Charli XCX released her second album Sucker, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it were less; at the rate the singer-songwriter drops new music it never quite feels as if you get the chance to miss her. In the time since she’s released her EP Vroom Vroom, the Number 1 Angel and Pop 2 mixtapes, the “bubble era” singles and – of course – ‘Boys’.

With her penchant for PC Music overtaking her True Romance alt-pop, her third album Charli somehow reconciles the two. The album is oversaturated with features (more than half the album), however you don’t quite mind when each is more of a thoughtful and necessary inclusion instead of a last minute tack on. ‘Cross You Out’ feat. Sky Ferreira is a dark and murky anthem ‘Gone’ feat Christine and the Queens and ‘1999’ feat. Troye Sian are undeniable smashes, however it is only on a Charli XCX album these would sit seamlessly alongside the bassy gurn of ‘Click’.

It may feature budding pop stars Kim Petras and Tommy Cash, but it’s totally left-field and has XCX indulging her experimental side for once, and eschewing her talent for penning some of the purest hooks of the decade. Kayleigh Watson

1. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR

Through Tyler The Creator’s constant and unrelenting evolution, the man and the music have always resonated with his fans wildly, influencing the ways they look at themselves, art, creativity, style, pain and their life purpose.

Across the worlds he created since Bastard, no two albums have ever sounded the same, expanding more on their environments and characters than conforming to what is expected. But to the uninitiated – those who don’t know Sam, Wolf Haley, Dr. TC etc – no album has ever proved to the world what a genius Tyler really is.

Enter Igor – an album more like a movie; a loop of unrequited love, self-identity, lust, greed, morality, peace, yearning. A record that pushed the boundaries of what he could do as a producer, a singer, a rapper and an artist. Donning a blonde wig, shades and an array of incredible suits, Tyler has created his masterpiece; but it feels like just the start.  Tobias Pugh