Top 50 Records of 2019
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The Comet Is Coming
Gong Gong Gong
Death And Vanilla
The Hold Steady
Cigarettes After Sex
It’s been 37 years that we’ve been waiting for this. The veteran ska-punk band’s return addresses Brexit, Tory austerity, Black Lives Matter and mental health. Encore is filled with tracks that cut deep into the malignant tumours of society, looking to heal them by brutal and frank exposure.
The half-decade since twigs’ debut album has been plagued with an unwanted publicity through two high-profile relationships. Her new album is an ode to all of these people – a breath-taking, shapeshifting vanguard of modern pop music. Weird bangers for when we all live in outer space.
Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten’s fifth album is her most atmospheric, emotionally haunting album to date. It’s an angry and asphyxiating ode to cleaning up your shit, fuelled by a steady self-belief whilst working through a new-found identity as a mother. It’s a pat-on-the-back, a to-do list and a firm grip over a ‘getting there’ kind of life.
If grime has always existed in Northampton with rappers like Slowthai, you have to ask why London’s been getting the publicity. His debut is a lo-fi, grungy and hilarious portrait of the nation, featuring glue sniffing, League Two football and faux-aristocratic choruses of God Save The Queen, accents and all.
An oddly moving and existential dancefloor record. Hot Chip’s seventh album is our favourite they’ve released to date. A colossal, sprawling gospel-sampling title track hits with all the purity of early the xx, with the psychedelic whizz of Cassius’s late great Philippe Zdar on production feeling as hallucinogenic as it does epic.
A nervy, chaotically-controlled embodiment of contemporary uncertainty, that few pioneers of contemporary electronic and classical music come close to. The Scottish composer already had an MBE after her name not one album down, and this collection of sweet little lies underpins her as somewhat of a precarious modern visionary.
The year in which Dublin took over our ears really started here. Fontaines D.C.’s spitefully poetic rock ode to Ireland’s capital scurries through Dickensian streets and back alleys. There’s the IDLES lineage, the blistering post-punk brawl that runs on anger and adrenaline, but there are tender moments too; love songs to the city that brought them together, a nod-of-the-hat to revolutionary folk music. This is an essential, communal listen.
Sampa the Great
The Melbourne rapper’s breakout album brings everyone in: it’s an epic suite, from beats tinged with jazz, ‘90s R&B, gospel and hip-hop, to lyrics bereft with Sampa’s heritage (born in Zambia, raised in Botswana, residing in Australia), her ideas of home, being an exile and overcoming a perpetual “othering”. Have this on repeat from now until New Year, and you’ll still find something new come 2020.
Two headlines took over this album’s narrative when it came out: that St. Vincent’s sleek production opened it up to a new sonic world for a band entering their third decade together, and that it would be the last record featuring co-founding drummer Janet Weiss. The Center Won’t Hold is a record picturing a beautiful collapse, politically and personally, that looks back to riot grrrl roots with a new balletic and discordant edge.
The Murder Capital
As the captive thralls of twenty-nineteen settled into some strange paralysis, there was one record we kept coming back to. The brooding and confrontational debut album from Dublin five-piece The Murder Capital is the kind of art-punk that might take its name from a John Keats poem, but ignites the pawing intensity of Joy Division’s drum tattoos and the old Pixies trick of quiet-and-loud. It’s beautiful, menacing, and our Album of the Year.