The Yorker are doing their top fives! First up, Ben Sayer picks his 5 favourite albums of the year. More top fives and year reviews to follow…
5. Tom Hickox – War Peace and Diplomacy
Everything about Hickox’s debut album is impressive, musically and lyrically it feels timeless. ‘Angel of the North’ is already a classic, and the idea that this guy is only just getting started is incredibly exciting for British songwriting.
4. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
Afrobeat rhythms and the raw charisma of front woman Merrill Garbus make tUnE-yArDs’ third album a breathtaking experience. The sheer energy of tracks like ‘Water Fountain’ and ‘Real Thing’ could brighten up the darkest Yorkshire winter. But don’t think for one minute that this is a feel good collection of quirky tunes, Garbus’s lyrics are often deeply disturbing and it is the dogged pursuit of this juxtaposition that makes Nikki Nack such a great album.
3. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
An album this good shouldn’t be free, but it is. Run the Jewels 2 (aptly named) is the second album by rap duo Killer Mike and EL-P and boy is it a peach. Each track glistens with a rawness that seems to grow more inventive as the album goes on; as if they are trying to make each track top the previous. It is hard to pick a highlight in an album where lyrical weaves shift from the profane to the profound in a second, and where two artists at the top of their game work tirelessly to push boundaries.
2. FKA Twigs – LP1
Objectively I’d have to say this is probably the best album of the year, it is bold, it is dumbfounding and quite often sublime. Like Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange it never sacrifices originality over a great tune and visa versa, and also burns slowly revealing new depths with every listen. Think Kate Bush but thoroughly 21st Century, Madonna but substance to back-up her style. LP1 deserved the mercury award it didn’t get and listens from everyone who hasn’t been brave enough to pick it up in a record store.
1. Jack White – Lazeretto
The album I have loved most though is Jack White’s second solo effort which for me sees the artist writing some of the best songs of his career. Ranging from sexual prowess, in his excellent reworking of Blind Willie Mctell’s ‘Three Women Blues’, to the poignancy of ‘Temporary Ground’, White delivers his most personal album to date. It’s not just that I think this is the best of White’s solo work; I’d go so far as to say that this is the best album he has ever made.