MX ritaoftheyear 2017 | Best Releases 25-21

mx ritaoraoftheyear 2017

50 Best Releases


Harry Styles – Harry Styles

I had no idea what Harry Styles was going to do with his debut album. I didn’t really follow the artistic progression of One Direction’s albums in their later years. I only followed their singles which did not evolve in sound in the same way that their albums did, leaning towards a rockier sound towards the end of their career – a noticeable departure from their tween bop sound that brought in their original audience. I couldn’t tell you whether ‘Harry Styles’ felt like the natural next step from ‘Made in the A.M.’ but what I can tell you is that this record was entirely unexpected and a pretty risky album to start off with for someone with such international stardom. Contrary to the popular opinion, “Sign of the Times” is not one of my favourite tracks here; in fact, it was the single cover for the song that I initially fell in love with more so than the song itself – and this cover set the tone for the rest of the album’s artwork which is stunning. Musically, “Sign of the Times” is a very grand rock ballad that was a perfect introduction to Harry’s sound – but personally, I enjoy this album the most when he fully commits to one of those two sounds that “Sign of the Times” fuses – rock (“Kiwi”, “Carolina”) and ballads (“Sweet Creature”, the gorgeously subtle closer “From The Dining Table”). That closing track in particular is so captivating, from the surprisingly upfront “played with myself, where were you?” near the beginning to the enchanting multi-layered harmonies in the bridge. I think that when it comes to 1D solo material, “From The Dining Table” will be tough to beat.

highlight track: FROM THE DINING TABLE


Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

‘Big Fish Theory’ deserved acclaim more than ‘DAMN.’ did. Both were heavily praised by critics and both are records full of electronic-influenced hip-hop bangers, but ultimately ‘Big Fish Theory’ has the edge because it’s more experimental with its sound and so it overall feels like a more boundary-pushing record than Kendrick’s did. As much as I love the album now, I probably would have never got round to listening to it if it wasn’t for the SOPHIE production on two songs (“Yeah Right” and “SAMO”) which are inevitably some of my favourites (no surprises there). The production on the entire record is bold and jagged, and it pairs wonderfully with Vince’s angry and driven style of rap. I think that it’s a noteworthy feat that this album succeeds as an incredible rap album and sounds equally amazing as a dance album. No matter what genre perspective you’re looking from, ‘Big Fish Theory’ is triumphant.



Lorde – Melodrama

My opinion of Lorde has meandered more than my opinion of any other artist. In her first era, I was a huge stan of hers. ‘Pure Heroine’ was in my top five on my Best Albums of 2013 (a list you can probably track down if you look hard enough) but as time went on, I became increasingly tired of Lorde’s voice and her lyrical content started to feel a bit try-hard for the sake of standing out, almost in a critic-bait kind of way. In more recent times, I rediscovered her work and found myself enjoying it a lot more than I expected to, considering the complete 180 of opinion that I experienced. And then this arrived. Luckily, ‘Melodrama’ is a stunning comeback. My opinion of Lorde is now near-enough where it was when I first fell in love with her music four years ago. However, some may have expected this album to be quite a bit higher on my list as everyone adores ‘Melodrama’ and I do too… just not all of it. Starting off with the negatives – the last three tracks on this album are easily the worst, especially “Supercut” which is very bland and “Perfect Places” which I would describe best as a faux-relatable mess (and exactly what I meant earlier when I said that Lorde felt try-hard at times). On the other hand, the majority of this album is stunning and Lorde’s best work yet. “Liability” rivals ‘White Teeth Teens” as the best song she has ever made. Each sound and idea on the experimental “Sober” and “The Louvre” is executed to perfection. “Writer in the Dark” harks back to Kate Bush’s best work as Lorde climbs up an octave to cry out “I’ll love you till you call the cops on me” in magnificent desperation. “Sober II (Melodrama)” remains to be criminally underrated and the drop on this song is without a doubt the most memorable moment of production I’ve heard all year. Maybe that’s a bold statement, but it shows there really are perfect places on this album – outside of the song itself, that is.

highlight track: LIABILITY



I really hated this album when I first heard it. In fact, I was forced to listen to it for ATRL’s alternative pop girls rate, and I really didn’t want to because I found COLLXTION I to be mostly boring and generic (an opinion I still hold for the most part). But now, I am a changed woman. My life would be so different without this album. It took a while to grow on me, but once it had, it stuck all year, and now it’s one of my most played albums. There are a couple of missteps near the beginning (“Vintage” is a bit annoying, “Need You” is forgettable) but the rest of it is seriously impressive. The 80s inspired sound felt so grating to begin with but now I feel so immersed in Allie’s personality when I listen to these songs. Songs like friendship anthem “That’s So Us” and album highlights “Casanova” and “Old Habits Die Hard” are so wildly expressive that it feels as if they were made for drag queens to perform them. Coming towards the end of the album, I didn’t think Allie would top “Lifted” (the vocal patterns on this track are truly spectacular) but then I got the closer “True Love is Violent” – the only song on this album that I instantly fell in love with. I could talk about “True Love is Violent” for its whole own review because it means so much to me. It’s my most played song of the year and one of my favourite songs of all time. I feel truly moved by it and multiple of my favourite musical memories this year were listening to this song. It was instantly a classic.

highlight track: TRUE LOVE IS VIOLENT


Pabllo Vittar – Vai Passar Mal

Just listening to this album and dancing to it makes me feel sexy and powerful, but put yourself in Pabllo Vittar’s shoes for a second. Imagine actually singing these songs. It’s inspiring to even think of the possibility of having a presence that commanding. Like many others, my introduction to Pabllo was samba smash “K.O.”, a contender for the steamiest music video of all time. It’s seriously hot, and an absolute must-watch. Nothing else on the album quite tops “K.O.” which really is a knockout, but several songs do come close. The production on opener “Nega” is totally insane, “Tara” (“Fetish”) is a laid-back kind of sexy and a sensual experience just to listen to, and closer “Indestrutivel” is an unexpected change of pace for Pabllo – a ballad about making it through hard times and coming out stronger; Pabllo’s own “Rise Like a Phoenix” if you will. With this final song, Pabllo proves herself to be versatile, and I can’t wait to hear more songs from Pabllo that are in a similar vein to this. Oh, she can be heartfelt as well as being sexy all the time? We have decided to stan forever.

highlight track: K.O.​​​​​​​

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017 | Best Releases 30-26

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017

50 Best Releases



CTRL is honest. On this record, SZA said as much as she can say. ‘Control’ was delayed for two years as SZA reworked the album over and over again until the label took away her hard drive and forced her to release the music she had. At one point SZA announced that she quit music, so the release of this album was a relief to many. I’d like to think that SZA made us panic so that ‘CTRL’ would feel all the more calming. Admittedly, ‘CTRL’ wasn’t an instant yes for me. It took a while for it to grow on me, and for me to realise it’s excellence. Part of this was releasing how momentous it was that SZA sings with such sincerity throughout. Take the mistress anthem “The Weekend” or the Kendrick Lamar assisted ode to pussy “Doves in the Wind”, and tell me that’s not something that feels fresh. Maybe it’s down to LEMONADE that she’s free to lay down her truth; maybe it was her plan all along. After all, this album was a long time in the works – and it was a worthwhile wait.

highlight track: NORMAL GIRL


Lil Peep – Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt I

It’s tough words to write, but this is Lil Peep’s only studio album. Not really something I thought about much, but it’s now what the Wikipedia page opens with, so I was reminded of the fact. It feels all the more painful when you think about the fact that this album was only ‘Pt.I’ – just in this era, there was more that Peep wanted to say. I urge anyone reading to this to give this short album a listen, and you will see the artistic workings of someone who is very sad, and very passionate, and very talented. Most songs on here talk about wanting to die. From the title, we know that Lil Peep probably didn’t intend for this to be his final piece of work, but holding it up against, say, Leonard Cohen’s very important ‘You Want It Darker’ album from last year, there are some clear correlations that perhaps suggest otherwise. Every last emotion was poured into making something that feels both agonizing and arresting. Pain and beauty meet face to face in Lil Peep’s work. This album is fleeting – by the end I’m thinking, why does this have to be over? It’s a question that then rings further.

highlight track: SAVE THAT SHIT


Fatima Al Qadiri – Shaneera

This year, ‘Shaneera’ was the release that felt like the best representation of the current point of my life that I’m at. This project is emotional, and an overt display of queerness that rings true to my experience at this time. Not that my queerness is evolving that much, it’s just that I spent the best part of my year in love with an Arab boy and increasingly obsessed with the culture in order to feel more connected to him in an attempt to break the language barrier. Listening to Arabic music a lot of the time worked as a reminder of him – mostly that was just listening to the music that he listened to, but this release also came at a significant time. ‘Shaneera’ is a word that is used in a slur in Kuwait against peple who deviate from traditional gender norms, and here Fatima turns this on its head. ‘Shaneera’ is a celebration – it has the ability to combine the musical influences of the country itself and the queerness that the country despises. The boy I was with was from Kuwait, and I immersed myself in his culture despite the fact that it was also the reason we couldn’t be together. Why did this record – a “love letter” to underground Arab queer culture – come at such a perfect time? It wasn’t intended for me, but sometimes it feels a bit like it was.

highlight track: GALBY F/ NAYGLOW


cupcakKe – Queen Elizabitch

Despite this album being so high up the list, this review is gonna be a bit constructive, because we know cupcakKe has an extraordinary amount of potential. This is definitely the best album cupcakKe has made so far. It is the first album of hers where each song individually feels finished and realised. It contains her best songs yet from both sides of her work – the sex (“CPR”) and the struggle (“Scraps”). However, I still feel like I’m waiting for Miss Elizabeth to make an album that slays me from start to finish. Although each song stands on its own, the album lacks cohesion, and that’s the primary issue with cupcakKe being so versatile when it comes to different sounds – it just doesn’t really lend to the album format. Hopefully in the future there may be some way for cupcakKe to apply her adaptability to making an album that is thematically consistent. We know she can do a lot of things, but I would like to see a cupcakKe album that sticks to doing one thing well throughout. Pull apart cupcakKe’s albums, and then put “Search”, “Picking Cotton” and “Scraps” onto one piece of work, and “Juicy Coochie”, “Doggy Style” and “CPR” onto another. These would easily be some of the most incredible albums of recent times. But even if this never happens, a) playlists exist for a reason, and b) cupcakKe keeps on getting better regardless.

highlight track: CPR


Fifth Harmony – Fifth Harmony

I purposefully didn’t put ‘7/27’ that high in my Best Releases list this time last year because I thought that I needed to be more objective and judge the albums based on their artistic merit rather than just personal enjoyment. Well this year – I say fuck it. ‘Fifth Harmony’ is not as good as ‘7/27’ despite the fact that this isn’t reflected through their position in their respective lists, but this album continues to build on a lot of what was good about its predecessor. Despite the loss of member Camila Cabello (who is now making music that is arguably better and at least more unique than the band’s output), Fifth Harmony are (not coincidentally) stronger than ever. They’re more in charge of their songwriting, and they’re more in charge in their songwriting. Reggae-fused “He Like That” and Skrillex-produced “Angel” are career highlights, “Make You Mad” refines the tropical house sound of their last album to a point of perfection, and “Don’t Say You Love Me” is easily the best ballad they’ve ever made. The most important track here is by no means the best, and that’s the closer – “Bridges” – an obvious response to America’s political climate that doubles as an anthem of empowerment amongst women. “Bridges, not walls” is a pretty simple statement, but it carries layers of meaning – and it’s a positive message that is certainly welcomed. ‘Fifth Harmony’ is not the group’s best work, and it’s far from being a masterpiece, but I can’t stress enough how much fun pop music is needed when the world feels like it’s crumbling sometimes. It’s much appreciated.
highlight track: DON’T SAY YOU LOVE ME

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017 | Best Releases 35-31

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017

50 Best Releases


Declan McKenna – What Do You Think About The Car?

These days, Declan McKenna is pretty much the poster-child for British indie kids and it’s well-deserved. Along with Louis Tomlinson, he’s one of the two young talents making rock music cool again. Real talk, Declan is very sweet and #relatable it seems. He makes some darn good catchy indie rock, which was first noticed for being about very serious topics, like debut single “Brazil” which discussed the communities destroyed by the 2014 World Cup, or “Paracetamol” which was written about the story of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn. On this album, McKenna pairs with James Ford (the producer behind Arctic Monkeys and Florence + the Machine) and among the tracklist, there’s something for everyone! Overall, Declan McKenna is just a very likeable chap who makes purposeful music. Lovely!

highlight track: HUMONGOUS


BTS – Love Yourself: Her

The whole concept of this EP feels kinda hilarious to me at this point. ‘Love Yourself: Her’ is BTS’ first big worldwide success, becoming the highest charting K-pop release ever in the US (#7 on BB200) and the UK (#14 on the UK Albums Chart). Coming off their big Billboard Music Awards win, this EP feels like a statement to say “hahahahahaha we’re successful worldwide now!”. Like, there is literally an interlude (“skit”) on the album which is the audio recording of their winner’s speech for the award. And good on them for it. On this release, BTS continue to fuse together inspiration from Western trends and apply it to the BTS we know and love – Jimin sounds gorgeous on electro-tinged ballad “Intro: Serendipity” and J-hope’s vocals are as gloriously grimey as ever on the iTunes US #1(!) “MIC Drop”. This EP can be summed up with one horribly translated lyric from the English lyric of MIC Drop – “It’s hella trophies, and it’s hella thick.”

highlight track: DNA


Cashmere Cat – 9

Sorry, but where did this release even come from? Cashmere Cat’s album lead-up felt so carefully planned out. To bring you up to speed, Cashmere Cat was meant to release an album called ‘Wild Love’ (with gorgeous cover art) and the singles campaign was well on its way when some unfortunate leaks of unfinished material threw a wrench into his plans. So, instead Cashmere Cat chucked ‘9’ onto iTunes, a pretty short album with half of it being the previously released singles and some unfortunately low-quality cover art. The album ended up being a commercial flop, which isn’t a surprise at all… but the music itself is actually brilliant. Previously released singles with Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello showed promise, but Cashmere Cat’s most consistent work is his music with long-time collaborator Ariana Grande, who shows up here for an astonishing ballad called “Quit” where her vocals are blended with Sia’s to create this almost electronic belting and it’s quite magnificent. Oh, and SOPHIE is also on this thing so….queue highlight track.

highlight track: AFTER COACHELLA F/ SOPHIE & MØ



G-Dragon has always felt like one of the most notable K-pop lyricists in terms of his music featuring prominent dark themes throughout. This initially became apparent to me when I read the lyrics of ‘Coup d’Etat’ single “CROOKED”, which has a bright pop sound on the surface, but lyrically discusses the lack of meaning in life. Furthermore, on an unexpected duet with Sky Ferreira, G-Dragon sings “The colour of my gloomy world is black”. It’s straight-forward and vulnerable, and more of that can be found on ‘KWON JI YONG’, my favourite K-pop release of this year. “I turned my back on you and I’m sorry”, G-Dragon sings on heartbreaking ballad “Untitled, 2014”, and on trap-pop banger “Super Star”, he announces “I ain’t got nobody” as if it’s the both the best and worst thing. ‘KWON JI YONG’ was released on a hand-painted USB stick which meant that the album was ineligible to chart in Korea, but later Gaon Chart was prompted to change their rules to be inclusive of more formats. Perhaps that’s what this release will be best remembered for, but personally, the music itself is what’s truly unforgettable.

highlight track: DIVINA COMMEDIA


Mura Masa – Mura Masa

The self-titled album from Alex Crossan, the Guernsey-born producer better known by his stage name Mura Masa was one half of two brilliant electro-funk albums that were much-needed in Summer 2017 – the yin to ‘Funk Wav Bounces, Vol.1’s yang. What makes Mura Masa so special is his ability to fuse genres together to make these island slow-jams that feel so wonderfully refined yet so detailed in terms of sound. His music is just so happy and enjoyable – it’s no wonder that Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing were practically in a fight all year to see who got to pick his next single as the soundtrack to their adverts. I’m pretty sure I heard “Firefly”, “What If I Go?”, “Lovesick” and “1 Night” all used as part of Summer advertising campaigns for various clothing brands. So, with this information in mind, I have decided to birth a new genre called “online clothing-brand pop” which will exclusively be reserved for any music I hear that uses a steel pan. It’s an upgraded tropical house. Bonus note: “Give Me The Ground” should have been a full song. It sounds like if the ‘Bagpuss’ theme was remixed and made into a huge emotional club hit. It’s entirely plausible.​​​​​​​

highlight track: LOVE$ICK F/ A$AP ROCKY

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017 | Best Releases 40-36

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017

50 Best Releases


Lea Michele – Places

When it comes to Lea’s second album, she’s mostly switched the bops for ballads and this overall change in style is welcomed as ‘Places’ has a level of sophistication that ‘Louder’ didn’t have. Nothing on this album tops the lead single “Love is Alive” for me because there’s something really striking about the way her vocals sound simultaneously joyful and desperate. Another special moment is closer “Hey You” which is a very simple and honest dedication to her late boyfriend Cory Monteith. The way it reads as one half of a conversation is highly vulnerable and I commend Lea for including such a song on the album. Through the entire record, ‘Places’ is inspiring and beautiful.

highlight track: LOVE IS ALIVE


K Á R Y Y N – Quanta (series)

This series of singles by upcoming electronic composer K Á R Y Y N is without a doubt one of the most versatile projects I have heard all year. If you like Björk and FKA twigs, then say hello to your new favourite artist. The ‘Quanta’ series is often glitchy and unconventionally operatic. It’s impressive how K Á R Y Y N’s music manages to sound blissful yet loaded with layers upon layers of harsh sound. It feels peaceful in a way that running away feels peaceful. An array of emotions around us, but solace is found in escapism.

highlight track: UN-C2-SEE


Calvin Harris – Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1

Shock! Calvin Harris made an extremely cohesive full-length album. ‘Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1’ is a mixtape-era album, really – the Vol. 1 immediately highlights that this project isn’t like its predecessors. This is plainly ten tracks of excellent R&B/hip-hop collaborations that was initially planned to be released as a singles series. Instead, Calvin opted to release it as a short full-length, and it was a great choice. This album was truly a summer soundtrack and I still stand by the ‘E•MO•TION’ comparisons that I made when I first heard it. It’s practically designed to make you feel good. Listen to “Skrt On Me”, or “Cash Out”, or the smash hit singles “Slide” and “Feels”, and then tell me you don’t have a smile on your face. I won’t believe you.

highlight track: HARD TO LOVE F/ JESSIE REYEZ


Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

Ex-Disney acts Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato released their latest albums on the same day. Initially, I favoured Miley’s album as I am a long-time fan of her work and “Malibu” was much more appealing to me as a lead single than “Sorry Not Sorry” which I initially considered to be shouty and dull. However, after listening to this project multiple times, it soon became clear that the album Demi had released here is nothing short of amazing. Songs like the wonderfully executed old-school 3/4 ballad “Cry Baby” and the dramatic gospel-lite title track deserve to be noticed. It’s wonderfully sultry and sexy throughout the entire track-listing, and it just feels like she completely hit the nail on the head with what sound works better for her. And now she’s got it, she can run with it.

highlight track: READY FOR YA


Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

This album was massively overrated, and I don’t feel as if I’m the only one who thinks so. ‘DAMN.’ really falls short compared to its predecessors, the incredible ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d City’ and ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, and I feel as if it’s because ‘DAMN.’ is thematically lacking in comparison. Kendrick’s previous two albums were fully fledged and conceptually well thought-out, and so my main issue with ‘DAMN.’ comes from the fact that I wasn’t expecting Kendrick to put out a conventional album. That being said, ‘DAMN.’ being conventional does not mean that it isn’t often excellent and some of his best songs ever. Kendrick has never sounded so masterfully effortless as he does on “ELEMENT.” (a surprising James Blake collab) and no one can deny the fact that “HUMBLE.” and “DNA.” are complete bangers. Also, a quick shout-out to the moody soulful “PRIDE.” which is quite touching. Yeah, this is very good, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a genius.

highlight track: ELEMENT.

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017 | Best Releases 45-41

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017

50 Best Releases


U.R.S.U.L.A. – Mythomalia Mix


‘Mythomalia Mix’ was one of the more mysterious releases from PC Music’s Month of Mayhem but it’s probably a collaboration between labelhead A. G. Cook and Spinee. ‘Mythomalia Mix’ is 9 minutes of insane, eery t.A.T.u remixes and it’s definitely a standout from the month. The only problem? It’s too damn short!

highlight track: THE REMIX OF “CLOWNS”


Billy Cullum – Lonely Hearts Club


Easily one of the best new artists of the year, Billy Cullum was a clear standout talent when I first had the joyful experience of seeing him as Mark Cohen in the UK Rent Tour back in October 2016. Since then, not only have I seen the show eleven times but Billy has launched a music career which began with charming tropical house banger “Lost in You”. Stylistically, this album lies closest to Troye Sivan’s ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ and there are clear influences scattered from the alt-pop women of today. Billy is best when he’s at his most passionate – a tone that is most prevalent here on tracks like the brooding “Cyanide” and an unexpected cover of Britney’s “Born to Make You Happy”. Overall a very promising and vocally stunning debut album.

highlight track: CYANIDE


Poppy –


If ‘Bubblebath’ was Poppy’s attempt at making a project that sounds like a popstar, ‘’ is her attempt at making music that sounds like her character. To put it frankly, the singles campaign for this album made it seem like this project was going to be simply awful – buzz tracks like “Let’s Make A Video” and “My Style” had generic and dated production, and each song screamed “budget cuts”. However, to my surprise, not only did the singles work better in the context of the album, but all of the songs that weren’t released yet were a million times better than the ones that were. I never thought Poppy would top “Lowlife” but nevertheless she did in the form of the seemingly Crystal Castles inspired “Software Upgrade”. “Fuzzy” is the closest thing here to a chart-pop hit, and “Pop Music” is a wonderful, almost emotional devotional ballad to the form itself. This project may not be as strong and consistent as ‘Bubblebath’ was, but… it’s truly Poppy.

highlight track: SOFTWARE UPGRADE


Sia – Everyday is Christmas


It seems odd putting a Christmas album in this list now that the holiday season is over, but honestly, if it came down to pure enjoyment factors, this album would be even higher. ‘Everyday is Christmas’ isn’t just your simple average Christmas album – every song on here is an original written by Sia, and precisely half of them are ballads. Three of these ballads in particular – “Snowman”, “Snowflake” and “Underneath the Mistletoe” defy the idea of a Christmas song – these songs stand on their own out of the merit of their beauty and vulnerability. I would seriously consider these aforementioned three songs to be among Sia’s best ever work, and following in the footsteps of Ariana Grande’s ‘Christmas & Chill’, this is a collection of Christmas songs that I’m going to struggle to keep to just the holiday season.



Miley Cyrus – Younger Now


Was it unexpected for Miley Cyrus to “return to her roots” with her newest album ‘Younger Now’? Who knows? Personally this seemed like a suitable enough artistic progression from her experimental psychedelic album ‘Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz’, considering that this is just a more accessible version of some parts of what we were hearing on that. This album may have been a commercial failure but not a single song sticks out on here as a hit – what she has here is a cohesive collection of strong pop folk music. Tracks like “Bad Mood” and “I Would Die For You” are gorgeously gloomy and some of her best work lyrically. I don’t think Miley intended for this album to be a huge success (and it seems like she doesn’t care too much overall; her last album was released for free originally). I think Miley was making the album that she wanted to make, and that is highly admirable. She did a great job at making something that feels fully realised.

highlight track: I WOULD DIE FOR YOU

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017 | Best Releases 50-46

MX ritaoraoftheyear 2017

50 Best Releases


Toxe – Morning Story


‘Morning Story’ is the second EP from 19-year-old Swedish producer Toxe Agelii and forms half of an audio-visual project along with accompanying video from Niclas Hille. This EP shows a lot of promise with its innovative soundscapes and Toxe proves to have a very distinctive sound just from the three tracks included here. There are clear video game influences throughout this project and it’s pretty easy to picture yourself playing some type of medieval war game as the drums crash throughout.

highlight track: CRUMPLED


Skepta – Vicious


‘Vicious’ is the follow-up to Skepta’s excellent fourth album ‘Konnichiwa’ which notably beat David Bowie and Radiohead to win the prestigious Mercury Prize. ‘Vicious’ lacks the standout anthems that ‘Konnichiwa’ had but in turn, it feels a lot more cohesive like a full body of work rather than a compilation. There are some great guest appearances from Lil B and A$AP Rocky as well, continuing to converge US rap and grime together as we have been seeing in recent years.

highlight track: STILL


Alice Glass – Alice Glass


Man, this is one of those releases that I would love to put higher on the list if it wasn’t just a bit unevolved. When this EP is good, it’s absolutely wonderful and brings out a lot of the original appeal of early Crystal Castles. Lead single “Without Love” especially is a heavy, crushing career highlight and it’s amazing to see Alice channel a lot of her hurt and anger into making powerful music. I trust that this EP is taking Alice in the right direction and I would enjoy seeing her grow into new sounds. One thing’s for sure – this music is a million times better than whatever this trash was.

highlight track: WITHOUT LOVE


Aaron Carter – LØVË


No sarcasm intended, Aaron Carter has had quite the busy year. When he’s not been in rehab, or in poor health, or getting arrested, or coming out as bisexual(!), Aaron Carter has been busy with the release of his first EP ‘LØVË’ – the first project from Aaron in fifteen years. ‘LØVË’ is essentially a collection of Justin Bieber ‘Purpose’-era songs. Basically if you like tropical house, then you’re going to like this. Not many new ideas going on, but it’s executed really well, and I hope that Aaron continues down a path of success as the minor hit (which he keeps reminding us) “Sooner or Later” shows promise that he might.

highlight track: SOONER OR LATER


Perfume Genius – No Shape


‘No Shape’ was probably one of the most disappointing albums this year as Mike Hadreas continues to lean towards a rockier direction rather than the lo-fi chamber pop that I grew to love from his first two albums. In terms of artistic progression, it’s not surprising to see Mike follow down the route of his previous album, the acclaimed ‘Too Bright’, and so his sound is grandiose and powerful just as it was there. Despite this being not as much to my taste as his early work, Perfume Genius continues to be a true individual and a master of writing with immaculate subtlety.

highlight track: SIDES F/ WEYES BLOOD