Since i started writing I’ve been chronicling the best moments in twelve month increments. Over the years I’ve picked many albums, some are still awesome, but on the other hand some have been known to fade in quality over time. Today we’re going to discuss my last five Number 1 albums of the years, and speculate and ultimately determine whether these were actually the best albums from that year, or if they simply found me at the right moment in time. Enjoy!
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: BON IVER, BON IVER
RUNNER UP:LYKKE LI, WOUNDED RHYMES
Back in 2011, I was already in love with Vernon’s first release as Bon Iver. When the second album hit though, it took over my life and was eventually named my album of the year. The album is poignant, heartbreaking and sobering, all of which Vernon does very well. At the time of the year end countdown, this was a pretty obvious number one for me. Sometimes you just know when you hear a record for the first time that it’s going to be an amazing influence in your life, and that was the case for the second Bon Iver record. However, the second place record, Wounded Rhymes by Swedish songstress Lykke Li was still a very important record. The loneliness and wounded nature of the album had a strong presence in my listening habits that year.
DID I MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE?: Both albums are still very good and worth checking out, but sometimes an album finds you at the right time, and I believe that that’s the reason Bon Iver was selected as number one, and why it remains the correct choice.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: PASSION PIT, GOSSAMER
RUNNER(s) UP: BAT FOR LASHES/ THE HAUNTED MAN, EL-P/ CANCER FOR CURE
Lets just put this down as quick as we can. That Passion Pit record was less about how good the record was, and more about the behind the scenes of my life at the time. I was struggling to graduate, plan a wedding, and grieve the loss of my grandmother, who was the person closest to me in my life. All of those things drove me to “Gossamer,” with it’s shining brightly instrumentals and hauntingly sad lyrics about the struggles of Michael Angelakos. Looking back though, this was very clearly not the record of the year. While I still enjoy the record on a minimal basis, the third Bat for Lashes record, and even more importantly, the third El-P album are way better in retrospect. “Cancer for Cure,” especially should’ve likely ended up as the Record of the Year. It’a jarring and confrontational hip hop album that showcases everything that is real and human about El-P, and it helped set the stage for the future of hip hop with the emergence of Run the Jewels.
DID I MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE: Simply put, no. El-P or Bat for Lashes have both aged better.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, ...LIKE CLOCKWORK
RUNNER UP: CHVRCHES, THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE
I remember this being not particularly hard to determine in regards to the number one slot, but i do recall the order following that was difficult. Queens of the Stone Age, returning after more than five years with a new, excellent, career defining record was an obvious choice for number one, but the top three was rounded out by the debut Chvrches record, which is still an electro-pop masterpiece, and Kanye West’s frenzied, in your face, anti-establishment “Yeezus.” All three records are still wonderful in various ways, and while any of them could have easily been number one, I think the only change I would make it putting West at number two.
DID I MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE: ...Like Clockwork has only gotten better in the years since it’s release, and while the other two records are still powerful, there wasn’t a record in 2013 that could’ve met the expectations for me like the way Joshua Homme and company managed to deliver with ..LC
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: BECK, MORNING PHASE
RUNNER UP: LYKKE LI, I NEVER LEARN
I remember this being a decision I went back and forth with for weeks before I finally settled on “Morning Phase.” Both of these records are exquisite and unraveling in emotional responses, to the point where I was even considering having a tie for the number one spot, Alas though, I chose Beck, but I’m still not even sure if i made the right choice. Beck’s record was a sort of return to form in the vein of his earlier masterpiece “Sea Change,” with it’s mellower atmospheres and expert instrumentation that we have come to expect from Mr. Hansen.
Lykke Li’s “I Never Learn,” though, soared in the same way as the first two parts in her trilogy of broken love songs and personal growth, resulting in another second place album of the year.
Like i said both records are still full of worthwhile moments. I’d say quite possibly that Beck’s album and Li’s album are both reminders of personal struggle and growth from that same struggle( Those themes are obvious on both records), and that’s why I was so connected to them.
DID I MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE: Maybe, but i can’t be sure. These two records are still albums that both are easily qualifiable as Albums of the year, but i guess it sorta depends on what your personal styles are.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: CHVRCHES, EVERY EYE OPEN
RUNNER UP: TAME IMPALA, CURRENTS
And finally we come to my choices from two years ago. My reactions to both of these albums were instant and satisfactory, which made the choosing even more difficult. Chvrches for me was a great second record that was largely ignored by other websites in regards to accolades, but there are many, many things that still hold weight two years later. It’s high energy record that (to me) proves they weren’t a one record fluke, and the production value, not to mention the classic nature of the new synth pop classic “Clearest Blue,” still stand tall among some of my favorite records.
The Tame Impala record though, is a very different record overall. It maintains Parker's gorgeously layered psychedelic stylings, while essentially being an R&B record that may or may not be a concept record about a breakup. It’s an excellent record still today, and like “Every Eye Open,” it still resonates with me.
DID I MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE: I don’t think so. Like I said both albums are still very good, but “Currents” has aged better in more little ways than the Chvrches record. It also helps it’s case that I was struggling with the aftermath of a divorce, and if you’ve listened to Currents ever in your life, you’re well aware that Parker's regrets, torments and sense of closure are bleeding through every note over the course of the record.
Thanks for reading!
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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