Albums of the year (so far)

Odrán:

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata

The last real gangsta alive teams up with the most prolific producer left in hip-hop and the results are predictably top level. Gibbs finds ways to keep his well-tread subject matter interesting over Madlib’s trademark soul, jazz and funk samples mixed with dialogue from Blaxploitation films.

The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

The Hotelier return to illuminate the spring with their best work yet. Blurring the lines between normal pop-punk and emo, the album eclipses 2011’s It Never Goes Out, had going for it. The searing emotionality never lets up; all 36 minutes will leave you feeling devastated, yet oddly validated.

Kevin:

Real Estate – Atlas

Real Estate’s other worldly tunes from their previous two albums still feature on Atlas, but there is a feeling that they are trying to break that mould and become a proper pop rock group. Still signature Real Estate, but the experimental feeling is on the back foot.
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David Crosby – Croz

Crosby is a man lucky to be alive and he knows it. This introspective album deals with the demons he has faced and the problems he sees in modern society. He pushes the “social commentator” job of a musician to its limits, but still writes some catchy songs.

Bryan:

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs’ third album is an exercise in nostalgia, channelling shades of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Don Henley. This album makes you feel like you’re driving at top speed through the desert on the trail of something undefined. A summer album if ever there was one.

Wild Beasts – Present Tense

The incongruity of Hayden Thorpe’s voice remains the centrepiece for Wild Beasts’ new album Present Tense. “Wanderlust”, attests to a change of direction for the band, however, as they take on a minimalist approach with more meaningful lyrics that confront subjects as diverse as boredom and spirituality.

Aran:

Metronomy – Love Letters

Shrugging off their usual digital accoutrements, Metronomy took to mostly analogue recording and looked to 1960 sounds for inspiration after the mega success of 2011’s The English Riviera. The album is another set of complex, smartly structured pop songs about homesickness and missing the people you love.

EMA – The Future’s Void

EMA continues to avoid being pinned with any recognisable genre labels on her second solo album, as outward looking as her first was introverted and emotional. Sonically astounding social commentary considering the benefits and drawbacks of the internet on humanity, with some stinging swipes at the patriarchy along the way.

Mark:

James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

McMorrow’s 47-month absence was justified when he returned with the unique sound of Post Tropical in February. Gentle, pensive moments mix with loud, powerful roars. Singing incoherent lyrics for an emotional sound mightn’t be new, but it’s executed here as good as over.

Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

The band continues to develop with their new release, captivating the audience with a sincere electro-pop sound that could very easily have been overdone. The album is a grower, with catchy beats and convincing melodies. Female backing vocals from Lucy Rose and Rae Morris add strong layers to songs.

Odrán de Bhaldraithe, Kevin Kelly, Bryan Grogan, Aran Kelly and Mark Hogan

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