Welcome to the new year! As many of you probably noticed, we did not post any ‘best of’ lists in December 2017. This was an intentional decision made by our entire contributing staff, and we made it for good reason. All too often the rush to be among the first to declare something the best makes us act irrationally. Sometimes we hop on the bandwagon for something we don’t fully believe in because it’s what is trending at the moment, or perhaps we forget something small we loved because so many bigger, more commercial projects took up our daily lives.
In an attempt to avoid these errors we allowed everyone the full month of December to consider their favorite records of the year. This week we are sharing their picks with you daily, one staffer at a time. Enjoy.
Gabriel Aikins (Staff Writer)
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Lorde – Melodrama
“Sophomore slump” is a saying for a reason. After pouring your heart and soul into a work and sending it out into the world, it can be difficult to muster that herculean effort again. It’s also possible that the perception of the slump isn’t entirely fair, the result of a first effort that was adored by the masses, which then creates a tough standard to match. All of this is to say that after the success of 2013’s Pure Heroine, no one would have blamed Lorde if her followup didn’t grip us in quite the same way. What did she do in response? Mined the always difficult teenager-to-adult life transition, recruited talented people to work with, and created Melodrama, the best album of the year and one of my favorite pop albums in some time.
From the opening piano chords of “Green Light” to the end of the triumphantly confrontational “Perfect Places,” Melodrama finds Lorde at her best, both firmly leading the way in the pop zeitgeist and wise beyond her years. Even in acceptance of herself, there’s a deep pain to Lorde’s lyrics on “Liability,” and while the imagery isn’t subtle, her ability to do things her own way and convey that on “Homemade Dynamite” is superb. Album standout “Supercut” may be the most mature evaluation of romance I’ve ever heard from anyone, let alone a 20-year-old.
Speaking of “Supercut,” the music is also superb. The thick layering of synths and the pulsing beat gives a pleasant background to Lorde’s musings. The bellowing horns on the hook of “Sober” are incredible, the best pop hook of the year. On Melodrama, Lorde worked closely with Jack Antonoff, who was everywhere in 2017. He put out his own album with Bleachers, was on our cover, and seemingly worked on every big pop release. Melodrama is the best use of him, with the best of his own sound and tendencies coming through without overshadowing the Lorde we know and love, who is a writing powerhouse all on her own.
If we’re nominating works of art to actually hang in The Louvre this year, Lorde’s Melodrama is near the top of the list. Lorde put out an album with even more maturity, innovation, heart-rending lyricism, and absolute bops than anything else in 2017. She’s the ruler of pop music, and there’s no end in sight for her reign at the top.
#2 Angel Olsen – Phases
#3 Gordi – Reservoir
#4 Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
#5 PVRIS – All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell
#6 MUNA – About U
#7 The National – Sleep Well Beast
#8 Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
#9 Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
#10 SZA – Ctrl