Album of the Year lists are my favorite seasonal tradition so I’m super stoked to share my top five! Don your favorite ugly sweater, pause Love Actually, and let’s get festive!
1. The Menzingers, After the Party
Words are seldom enough to explain how impeccable this album is. Catching it live at Riot Fest only amplified this. After the Party is a collection of worry and anxiety about what to do when you close out your 20s. What lies ahead when you’re forced to succumb to actual adulthood?
I’m a sucker for symbolism. So a metaphor of “the party” — life from 20 to 29 — did it for me. Fun. Sincere. Uncertain. My favorite lines of the record embody it: from “Midwestern States,” a track that details the dreariness of my home, “We’ll regret it when we’re dead and sober / But we’re still breathin’, and the party ain’t over.”
That’s it. That’s the record. Real life and real struggles are illustrated. The Menzingers use their two vocalists equally, you can tell the switches in songwriting and composition with each song, a perfect balance of upbeat songs and power driven melodies. The instrumentals are catchy and pulsating. Reckless and powerful. After the Party is a piece made for the rager that, for once, has a foreseeable end. Every month of 2017 this year had its specific track, something so special and not an “every album” feat. I recommend it just for the reminiscent and nostalgic value.
2. Charly Bliss, Guppy
Oh man, Charly Bliss. After writing about “Scare U”, I noticed their replay value. (And our mutual love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) Deciding to check out their debut LP was a phenomenal choice. I still can’t get enough. Walking to class, making dinner, doing homework, avoiding homework — Guppy is an all-occasion record. Front woman Eva Hendricks’ voice is sticky sweet. Still, Guppy dives into serious topics like gender stereotyping (“Percolator”) and depression (“Black Hole”). The pull of Charly Bliss is their confidence, fresh sound, and captivating lyricism. Hendricks’ voice is infectious and lovable. Also kinda weird at first. But with lyrics like, “I always get dumped on my birthday,” and “You’d sell my soul to make a comeback,” how can you resist? Guppy is oh, so messy pop rock elegance.
3. Lola Coca, The Only Child
London-based pop singer Lola Coca has an intense debut LP of songs that take a stand against disrespect and lock affectionate gazes at love.The Only Child is gorgeous, simple pop. I was pulled immediately to the stripped, fun beats that complement the songs without over complicating them. The cheeky lyrics get their shine and buff this way. Lola Coca’s bird-like voice drips over each song with intent and flair.
I love this album — it feels like a breath of fresh air. A blue summer sky. Conventional run-of-the-mill song making is out of the question with this one — the elements build upon each other and produce brilliance. I recommend The Only Child for not only an entertaining listen, but a relatable piece. If you’re someone unapologetic, loving, or just want to explore a modern jazzy pop tune, give this shimmering beauty a listen. It’s magical.
4. Logic, Everybody
I’m not the biggest rap fan. I have a favorite album here and there, but I’m not an avid follower.
I stumbled Logic’s Everybody and its enthralling. A rap album hasn’t touched me like this since 2004’s College Dropout. Logic’s goal is to simply give his perspective on life. It’s intelligent, lucrative with emotion. The syntax is flawless. From the first song, I was hooked.
“This is for every race…every color, every creed. Music does not discriminate, music is made to assimilate. Black is beautiful, and so are you.”
A rallying cry. Empowerment. Logic sets the tone from the beginning and carries it throughout. Though I groan at the skits in rap records, the saga of a man in the afterlife trying to understand life itself was enticing and fitting. It wasn’t an interruption; rather, a continuation. A different take on the same messages presented in Everybody. It’s a heavy work, but deeply moving if you let it. I wouldn’t listen to Everybody just to jam out even though the beats are incredible. I listen to it in pure appreciation and awe of the masterpiece.
5. Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life
Wow, this record. Lana’s last two releases for me were bland. Easily forgettable with one or two delightful tracks. Luckily, Lust for Life was what I’d been waiting for.
Silk. Psychedelic. The classic Lana style, but amplified and spun. Lana uses her position to analyze herself and her fans. Her past choices and where they’ve led her, but focused on more than heartbreak. This shift in intent was the perfect move. Lust for Life is a precious take on rough society. It’s less theatric than her previous works, more realistic.
Along with some big name collabs, I see this album as a critical celebration. Life is ugly but allowing enough to find the beauty. It is so easy for me to get emotional to this album. “Love” is one of the most moving songs I’ve heard in a long time, leaving me teary eyed and afraid of the end of the party. It’s an orchestral, hazy, opening ballad that notes today’s youth and their lives, thoughts, and motivation. In fact, I believe that’s an undertone of the album.
“It’s enough to be young and in love.”