Our Album Highlights of 2017

As the year rounds to a close, we continue our end-of-year highlight run-throughs with our pick of the albums that made 2017 so damn good for music and our personal favs.

Check out our pick of the best LGBTQ+ reads, our art and theatre picks, our best HISKIND moments and the TV that made the year so great right here.


Fever Ray: Plunge

On her 2009 self-titled debut record, Karin Dreijer (one half of prolific Swedish odd-bots The Knife) transformed isolation and restless nights of motherhood into an atmospheric, frankly-terrifying masterpiece. Eight years on, her sophomore effort Plunge highlights an all-encompassing sexual revolution and political lust, shrieking “gag me, awake my fighting spirit” on the manifesto-like This Country and dismissing the skeletal-spookiness of LP1 for harsh, restless electronica across its 11 tracks. A remarkable, manic and sexually-charged return from an artist whose output makes for some of the most important queer music of the past 15 years. – Bill Baker

Jessie Ware: Glasshouse

Nothing makes the eyes roll harder than hearing an album being described as the ‘most personal yet’, albeit Jessie Ware really hit the nail on the head with this one. Glasshouse, Ware’s third effort, shimmers under the sunlight; dazzling with soul and dripping in her signature R&B sound. We hear elements of disco (Your Domino) sandwiched between sultry ballads (Stay Awake, Wait for Me / Alone) making Glasshouse a cohesive diary of thoughts written from the heart of a wife and mother. Despite no major jumps out of her comfort zone, Ware knows what she’s good at, and that’s what she does so perfectly on this record. – Jordan White

St Vincent: MASSEDUCTION

St Vincent has exploded back into our lives with her fifth studio album, MASSEDUCTION. The guitarist and writer teamed up with Bleachers’ lead man Jack Antonoff to produce not only one of the best in Ms Clark’s discography, but of the year so far. Songs like the synth-driven banger Sugarboy and the BDSM-fuelled funk track Savior see St Vincent in a more focused light as we are introduced to an artist who’s more fearless and honest than before and able to command a room with just a cry of the word “Boys!” She’s mastered her craft and now she’s taking it to new heights. – Connor Spilsbury-Brown

BETSY: BETSY

Standing boldly on the album cover, holding dumbbells whilst surrounded by tyres – before you even hear BETSY’s stunning voice, you begin to realise that you aren’t dealing with a conventional pop star. Her self-titled debut album is filled to the brim with emotional ballads and timeless songwriting. On most of the tracks, BETSY’s voice immediately takes centre stage and you can really hear how emotionally invested she is in her lyrics. Being such an autobiographical record, there was a danger that this album could be at risk of sounding depressing, but the uplifting production creates a nice balance and allows the album to be enjoyed without dwelling too much on the sadness in many of the lyrics. A truly outstanding and underrated debut. – Conor Giblin

Read our interview with the Welsh powerhouse from back in September right here.

BROCKHAMPTON: SATURATION

BROCKHAMPTON have firmly placed their stamp on 2017 through not one, not two but three incredible albums this year. When it comes to the first album in this trilogy, we see the boyband collective bring high energy and social discussion to the forefront, including homosexuality, rape culture and mental health. Bringing different genres together and making it work as well as BROCKHAMPTON is something you rarely see in the music industry, the resulting product being more “we don’t give a fuck” statement than a straight-forward album. A real 2017 standout, just from doing what they each love. – Connor Spilsbury-Brown

The Sound Of Arrows: Stay Free

We all know by now that the Swedes do pop best. The Sound of Arrows are no exception to this, given the cult-like following and legacy of their camp-pop 2011 debut Voyage. Fast-forward to present and the duo turned their attention to 90s boy-band ballads and tropical synth-soundscapes, fusing the two across 45 minutes of Scandi-pop gems. A glorious team-up with fellow-pop heroes Niki & The Dove on In The Shade Of Your Love is more than enough reasoning for Stay Free to earn itself the same recognition as the first. – Bill Baker

Lorde: Melodrama

“It’s kind of funny, I spend almost every minute thinking about love,” she whispers over chirping birds and trickling water, “But I’ve never seen it,” sighing, her right-hand swaying in the pool. Upon first listen, Melodrama sounds like the incredible pop record that it is, but then you revisit again and again until you find it giving you the warmest hug in the passenger seat, your bedroom, or wherever you’re transcending from. “Do we make love or destroy it? That summer I wanted to find out.” Melodrama is that sweltering summer. Humid air attacking the skin during the day, and by night caresses you with its slight breeze. Lorde doesn’t tell us a story with this record, she shows us. This is one summer condensed into a 40-minute voyage through the inner-workings of Lorde’s mind. – Jordan White

Sam Smith: The Thrill Of It All

Hear me out – as problematic as Sam Smith can be at times, you can’t deny the power of his voice. The Thrill Of It All is a considerable improvement when compared to his first album and it’s refreshing to see him referring to male partners with the correct pronouns on tracks such as HIM. On this record, he’s really not shying away from being vocal about his sexuality and the lyrics are a lot more poignant than I expected them to be, such as the line “I know you’re right for me / But I’m waiting for everything in your world / To align with my world” from Say It First, which perfectly encapsulates that feeling of falling in love with someone and waiting for them to feel equally as in love with you. – Conor Giblin

Paramore: After Laughter

Behind the synths and 80s-esque culture of After Laughter lies a 28-year-old sat in a flower bed with her head in her palms. Perhaps the recipe for overcoming sadness is to act as if it’s all alright, or perhaps it’s to walk around delirious in the spring sunshine with your two best friends; best believe Paramore have tried both. From Hard Times alone we knew that After Laughter was about to become every post-teen’s go-to when they hit their mid-life crisis by the age of 22, but that’s exactly the record’s purpose. Life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; Hayley Williams experienced that one first hand. Paramore haven’t had it easy, you can almost hear the band shrugging their shoulders followed by “we’ll survive” once the record ends. After all the times they could’ve pulled the plug, they refuse to call it a day, and it’s admirable. – Jordan White

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