With the new year hype finally subsiding, now seems a good time to sit down, grab a brew, and reminisce/catch up on the best albums that emerged in 2015. Part 2 includes the 10 best albums released in the last 4 months of the year, and you can remind yourselves of Part 1 here.
Side note: Adele may well have made the list had she released 25 on Spotify, but unfortunately in her wisdom she decided to refrain from including it; and the fact that I can’t afford to pay £10.99 for the album (being a poor student) means I have yet to give it a listen. Onto the list…
10. Troye Sivan – Blue Neighbourhood. Released 4th December.
20 year-old South African born Troye Sivan impressed us last year with the release of his EP TRXYE, and again in September with follow up Wild, thanks to his genuine lyrics and slick production, so expectations were understandably high when his début album Blue Neighbourhood dropped last month. Despite initially feeling irritated that all 6 tracks from Wild had been included in the album, it proved to be a god-send as unfortunately the remaining tracks failed to deliver the quality pop that we’d come to expect. That’s not to say the new tracks are bad – far from it – but it is somewhat disappointing none-the-less, and it’s due to the strength of these previous songs that Blue Neighbourhood secures 10th place in this list.
Best Tracks: Wild, Fools, The Quiet
9. Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams. Released 4th December.
December was a busy month for album releases (check out numbers 10 and 8), though for most the release of Coldplay’s 7th (and rumoured last) studio album made all other albums seem redundant. A Head Full of Dreams sees a welcome return to the band’s fun side, especially after the rather depressing Ghost Stories, with lead single Adventure of a Lifetime bursting with 80s disco vibes. Unnecessarily long tracks, coupled with a few duds such as the irritatingly dull Everglow, stops A Head Full of Dreams from being a masterpiece, though the appearances of Tove Lo and Beyonce (!!!) are definitely worth a listen.
Best tracks: Adventure of a Lifetime, Hymn for the Weekend, Fun
8. Fleur East – Love, Sax, and Flashbacks. Released 4th December.
Fleur East, the runner up in 2014’s The X Factor, proves once again that winning isn’t everything, as acts such as Olly Murs, One Direction, and Ella Henderson can attest to. Lead single Sax was a smash hit, landing in the top 5 and selling consistently over the coming months of its release, and judging from the quality of Fleur’s album Love, Sax, and Flashbacks, it wouldn’t be surprising if the singer had one or two more hits on the horizon. The album consists purely of uplifting dance songs that are irresistibly catchy, and the fact that the record doesn’t re-define or revolutionise pop music is irrelevant. All Fleur wants is for the listener to get loose, let their hair down and dance, and after listening to Love, Sax, and Flashbacks, it’s hard not to.
Best Tracks: Sax, Baby Don’t Dance, Kitchen
7. Disclosure – Caracal. Released 25th September.
Surrey brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence made a name for themselves as the UK’s leading electronic music act back in 2012, as their album Settle landed with rave reviews and impressive sales. The duo returned last year with follow-up Caracal, an LP which thankfully doesn’t stray too far from the group’s distinctive garage sound, and just like in Settle the featured vocals are a real highlight – big artists such as Sam Smith, The Weeknd and Lorde reflect Disclosure’s rise in popularity but also their desire to work with some of the most unique vocals in the charts. Though Caracal can feel like Settle 2.0 at times, it’s still a must-listen for any electronic music fans who are after a different take on the genre.
Best Tracks: Nocturnal, Omen, Hourglass
6. Carly Rae Jepsen – E.M.O.T.I.O.N. Released 18th September.
Perhaps the most underrated pop artist at the moment, Carly Rae Jepsen wowed pop aficionados and critics alike with her third studio album E.M.O.T.I.O.N back in September. Sadly, the album sold poorly despite the success of lead single I Really Like You, and just like the release date for Rihanna’s album Anti, its poor sales remain one of life’s greatest mysteries. Tracks such as Runaway With Me (a real contender for single of the year) and All That prove that Carly knows exactly how to make a perfect pop song – lets hope her next album will bring the Canadian singer back into the limelight as one of pop’s brightest stars.
Best Tracks: Runaway With Me, I Really Like You, All That
5. Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon. Released 18th September.
Hot off the heels of 2014’s Ultraviolence, Honeymoon released last year to critical acclaim – it received a very respectable Metacritic score of 78 and appears on many Best of 2015 lists. The LP sees the return of Lana’s distinctive sultry vocals and jazz production, though tracks such as High By the Beach and Art Deco are perhaps the singer’s most pop-fuelled tracks to-date. What strikes us the most with Honeymoon is how at ease Lana appears – she’s found her sound and she’s sticking with it, even if it’s at the expense of commercial success. The fact that she’s already back in the studio writing for album number 4 means we won’t have to wait much longer for another does of Hollywood sadness.
Best tracks – High By the Beach, Salvatore, Art Deco
4. Ellie Goulding – Delirium. Released 6th November.
Ellie Goulding set expectations soaring when last September she announced that she wanted to make ‘a big pop album’; though Ellie has always been a pop artist, the edgy electronic Halcyon divided fans with its more ‘out there’ approach, and this announcement was well received by those who’d exhausted their copy of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Fortunately, Ellie’s announcement proved to be more than a media ploy – Delirium is filled with enough pop goodness to last us well into 2016. Filled is the appropriate word: there are 16 tracks in the standard edition and 22 in the deluxe, and whilst most tracks hit the mark there are a few misses, which is inevitable with an album if this size. Regardless, Delirium is a fantastic album, and when the only complaint is that it’s too ambitious for its own good, you know you’ve found something truly special.
Best tracks: On My Mind, Keep On Dancin’, I Do What I love
3. Selena Gomez – Revival. Released 9th October.
Perhaps the most surprising entry on the list, Selena Gomez’s Revival shocked critics upon its release back in October, assigning a respectable score of 74 on Metacritic and getting favourable reviews across the board. The most stand-out feature is Selena’s maturity as an artist: gone are the innocent Disney-esque pop songs of the Selena Gomez and the Scene days, and in their stead are an array of R&B grooves and sophisticated electronic beats. Selena’s latest album sees her at her most confident, and after years of searching the songstress has finally found her place in the music industry. It’s no wonder that Revival is Selena’s most successful album to date.
Best tracks: Good For You, Same Old Love, Hands to Myself.
2. Justin Bieber – Purpose. Released 13th November.
Come on, admit it. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you. You’re a Belieber; and with just one listen to Purpose, it’s not difficult to see why. Every track released this year by the current king of pop has been nothing short of outstanding, so it goes without saying that the remaining 14 are equally brilliant. From dance-floor fillers such as Sorry and Children to the hip hop grooves of No Sense and We Are, Purpose has it all, and the honesty that permeates the album makes it feel like a complete entity. If this is Justin’s way of saying sorry for his reckless teenage years, then let me be the first to say: apology accepted.
Best tracks: Sorry, Company, What Do You Mean
1. Grimes – Art Angels. Released 6th November.
2015 was truly an amazing year for albums, with some great debuts and surprising comebacks, though the last album on this list exceeds them all. Arguably the most obscure artist mentioned in this article, Canadian producer and singer Grimes has gained popularity through her completely unique style of music, often dubbed ‘runway music’ thanks to its prominence in fashion shows. Art Angels, in comparison to her older material, manages to sound completely different to anything the musician has released whilst still sounding like a Grimes record, a rare feat, and it’s no exaggeration to say that every track on the record sounds completely different. The ‘popiness’ of lead single Flesh Without Blood, the ‘chaoticness’ of Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes‘ vocals in Scream, the bizarre hoedown that is California; all different, all amazing. In short: a masterpiece.
Best tracks: Flesh Without Blood, California, Kill V. Maim