As with my Worst Hit Singles of 2017 and Top Films of 2017 lists, the fates have decided that I should write some words on what I have decided to be among the most noteworthy music albums of the past year. Which is convenient, given that 2017 was the first year that I really played very close attention to each new release, as they came out. For the most part, I was able to keep up with basically everything I wanted to listen to, despite the fact that I fell behind at times here and there and, regrettably, still haven’t quite listened to everything that interested me at least a little bit. But how could I – even without taking into account all of the writing, reading, and movie-watching I accomplished this past year, there are simply too many releases in the world to ever be hopeful in catching up. As for the majority of my most desired stuff, though, I pretty much covered all my bases, which is certainly more impressive than I have accomplished in past years!
So anyway, here we are – my top 50 releases of the year. Which, yes, is really what this list will be about. I know that the title of this post specifically mentions albums, but I will also open it up to EPs and mixtapes I’ve checked out in the course of the year. Because this is my house and I play by my own rules. Additionally, due to the pure density of this list, I have limited each review to only a couple sentences per release (except for ones that I think deserve more, for whatever reason). This way, I get to promote a wide breadth of music across numerous styles, genres, and artists, while also taking a load off my own back – since I still have a couple more lists to complete after this one!
I mostly hope that this list will give readers a better idea of the kind of music to which I like to jam along (or listen morosely) when I’m not giving my spins to a copious amount of pop music, new and old. And since I’m always up for recommendations, I would love to hear in the comments if there is anything I might be missing! (No, I did not like the Father John Misty album… and I’ve yet to listen to the Mountain Goats album… and both 4:44 and DAMN. were underwhelming…)
So, let’s get on with it now! Here are my FAVORITE MUSIC RELEASES OF 2017
Antisocialites by Alvvays
Soooo dreamy. Molly Rankin’s delicate vocals and Alec O’Hanley’s guitar work are what make this one. Some tracks are hazy and float-along, while others move along in a bit more uptempo fashion. Nonetheless, it always surprises me how quickly this album passes by; every track is special in its own way and the listening experience as a whole is always pleasant. It’s like being draped in a cozy dream pop/power pop blanket for an afternoon.
Best tracks: “Dreams Tonite”, “Plimsoll Punks”, “Already Gone”
Arca by Arca
I have never been aware of Arca (the stage name of Alejandro Ghersi) before listening to this album, but now I never want to go back. Essentially, his self-titled album is little more than a series of experimental ambient tracks, prominently featuring his voice among sparse instrumentals. The product as a whole is as beautiful as it is unsettling, seasoned with moments that are almost jaw-dropping in their inexplicable turns. It’s one of the most perfect nighttime albums of the year, as well as one of the queerest.
Best tracks: “Piel”, “Saunter”, “Desafio”
Future Politics by Austra
The synthpop group take on a decidedly more mature trajectory with their latest album, and do so with much success. The synth grooves here are totally tight and awesome, and their spacier stuff gives off great vibes as well. It’s terrifically produced, even if the lyrics aren’t the sharpest, and it takes some pretty bold risks in the meantime. Definitely one of the more underrated albums of the year.
Best tracks: “Future Politics”, “Angel in Your Eyes’
Pas pire pop [I Love You So Much] by Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche
I have no idea how this band ended up on my radar last year, but I’m so glad they did. Judging from this album alone, they seem to be the kind of band that defies any sense of organized categorization. It’s essentially a series of bold instrumentals that seem almost formless in sound and function – as if the band members just threw a bunch of sounds against a wall and parsed out whatever stuck. It’s an excellent slice of prog-rock and shouldn’t be skipped by lovers of the genre.
Best tracks: “Trans-pop express I & II”… but ideally, it should be taken in all at once.
All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ by Joey Bada$$
Politically conscious hip-hop is pretty big right now, and the latest release from New York rapper Joey Bada$$ is one of the strongest to come from this past year. The jazzy production is sleek and wonderful, and while the record as a whole is chill in mood, it never loses focus of Joey’s condemnation upon America’s corruption and systematic racism. One of the most important albums to come from this year.
Best tracks: “For My People”, “Land of the Free”, “Amerikkkan Idol”
Turn Out the Lights by Julien Baker
Julien Baker is a delicate, talented performer; each and every track on Turn Out the Lights demonstrate just what I love so much about this record. While the atmosphere of her minimal, slow instrumentals is pleasing to the ear, her lyrics are often and so accurately aching with a tremendous pain and loneliness, the kinds that often defy description. And above all else, it’s just all so, so pretty.
Best tracks: “Turn Out the Lights”, “Appointments”, “Shadowboxing”
Capacity by Big Thief
I guess many of my praises for Turn Out the Lights could also apply here, even though this is less depressing and more calming, plainly speaking. Adrianne Lenker’s voice is one of my most satisfying finds of 2017. It’s all just good, warm, folky fun. I’ve seen this record often compared to Lorde’s Melodrama, but it’s more like if Fiona Apple collaborated with The Breeders or Belly – basically all the cool parts of mid-90s indie rock recollected to today.
Best tracks: “Mary”, “Shark Smile”, “Mythological Beauty”
Utopia by Björk
Björk seems to have the utter inability to be anything but totally awesome, and her new album further exemplifies this. Her typical loose experimentation is meshed with co-producer Arca’s signature ambience, resulting in her earthiest album to date. Each listen immediately prompts me to lean back, eyes closed, and fully immerse myself in this atmosphere of birds and other nature sounds that has been so brilliantly painted out. It doesn’t offer many surprises as far as the Björk sound is concerned – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Best tracks: “Blissing Me”, “The Gate”, “Body Memory”, “Features Creatures”
World Eater by Blanck Mass
If you’re looking for something on the harsher, more industrial side of things, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better album from this year than World Eater. Each track is so eerie and mechanical, successfully working at portraying both anger and calm throughout the course of the album. The textures to this one are great and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for some interesting electronic sounds.
Best tracks: “Silent Treatment”, “Please”, “Rhesus Negative”
SATURATION II by Brockhampton
Much has been made of Brockhampton this past year. Honestly, I’ve yet to get around to the second and third volume of their SATURATION series, but SATURATION II is one of the most prestigious rap albums of the year for me. Its energy is wild and enthusiastic, the hooks are instantly catchy, and the production is fresh as hell throughout – not too much more I could ask for with this one.
Best tracks: “Junky”, “Queer”, “Sweet”, “Swamp”, “Summer”
I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone by Chastity Belt
Sometimes I don’t need a lot of depth or variety in my jangle pop – I just need some shimmery guitars and smooth grooves. Thankfully, this album has got that in spades. I can’t see this album making many others’ lists (mainly because of how easy it is to forget about it), but I enjoyed the hell out of this. It’s not as explicitly sad as something like Turn Out the Lights, but there are tinges here and there; it totally works in the band’s favor.
Best tracks: “Different Now”, “Something Else”, “5am”
Apocalipstick by Cherry Glazerr
Now this is fun as hell! Mildly psychedelic and spunky in all the best ways, Cherry Glazerr is one of those bands I’m gonna have to keep on my radar. Like many of the artists on this list, they keep up a great 90s alt-rock vibe so, so well. It balances indie pop with edgier, more harder rock so effortlessly and the whole album is a blast from start to finish. It’s definitely one of those records that make me want to witness it played live immediately.
Best tracks: “Told You I’d Be with the Guys”, “Moon Dust”, “Humble Pro”
Thot Breaker by Chief Keef
And now here comes one of my most unexpected faves. I just love how goddamn quirky this one is. The cluttered production is surely not for everyone, but I personally find it quite charming, especially on the record’s strongest tracks. In a music landscape saturated with hard rappers, it’s always nice to see those that aren’t afraid to express a significantly more sensitive side. Cheif Keef does exactly this throughout the course of the album. While it does err on the cheesy and goofy side at points, it somehow never gets bad!
Best tracks: “Whoa”, “My Baby”, “You & Me”, “You My Number One”
A Thousand Skies by Clap! Clap!
Just a whole bunch of tracks that mesh tropical rhythms with electronic and R&B production in cool, creative ways. That pretty much just sums this up – whether or not that previous sentence seems attractive basically determines one’s overall opinion on this album. I for one find it pretty damn cool; even though some tracks are definitely weaker than others (namely in the second half), it’s consistency overall is admirable.
Best tracks: “Ode to the Pleiades”, “Hope”, “Nguwe”
13 by Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry was one of my favorite discoveries from 2016, and I’m so glad to see that his incomparable rhythm has not let up yet. While I anxiously await his next full-length album, his mixtape 13 is jam-packed with just under fifteen minutes of rambunctious energy and stellar rhymes. Worth listening to over and over again.
Best tracks: “Equalizer”, “Zeltron 6 Billion”
This Old Dog by Mac DeMarco
Mac DeMarco has been one of my blind spots for a little while – somehow I just assumed I would not like him! Obviously, I stand corrected. This is just a nice, mellow album, with some quietly introspective lyrics smoothed onto a gentle acoustic (and sometimes electronic) backing. It’s just dreamy as hell, and also somehow nostalgic in a weird, inexplicable way.
Best tracks: “My Old Man”, “Still Beating”, “For the First Time”
Stellular by Rose Elinor Dougall
Dougall breaks away from The Pipettes to create something more layered and mature, and succeeds marvelously. A little bit of power pop here, some new wave there, and some shoegaze/dream pop vibes to keep things interesting. It’s just a pleasant little record, the likes of which are tough to come across this day and age.
Best tracks: “Colour of Water”, “Stellular”, “Closer”
Pleasure by Feist
I almost didn’t listen to this album, since Feist is soooo ten years ago. Nonetheless, I’m so glad I did, because it brings some more interesting textures and soft sounds that I wouldn’t normally associate with the singer-songwriter. The production on each track is interesting in its own special ways and Leslie Feist herself sounds as beautiful and earthy as ever. Try not to pass this one up, please.
Best tracks: “Pleasure”, “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You”, “Baby Be Simple”
Plunge by Fever Ray
Oh god, I love this one so much. The sound design throughout this record is spiky and rough, and in all the best ways. Karin is so dreamily aggressive… and sometimes just plain dreamy. More than anything, though, I love how unapologetically queer and political this album is, while also being some of the most fun I’ve had in 45-minute increments all year long.
Best tracks: “To the Moon and Back”, “IDK About You”, “Mustn’t Hurry”
Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes is a band that always brings me back to my early college days when I first started getting into them – a simpler time. Crack-Up continues their penchant for luxurious harmonies and earthy folk tones in a collection of tracks that progressively ebb and swell with overwhelming emotion. This album seems to only get better with each listen and is in fierce competition with their self-titled as my favorite release from the group.
Best tracks: “Third of May / Ōdaigahara”, “Fool’s Errand”, “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me”
HNDRXX by Future
True, FUTURE has “Mask Off”, but I think HNDRXX is the better 2017 Future album overall. As the trap rapper’s attempt at a more explicitly pop record, it passes with flying colors and is one of the year’s most under-appreciated releases. The production on these tracks are fire and Future himself has never sounded better.
Best tracks: “Coming Out Strong”, “Selfish”, “Incredible”
Alice Glass by Alice Glass
Context is key with this record. Upon this EP’s release, it was highly dismissed as being derivative and boring. It instantly becomes chilling and even heartbreaking with the knowledge that each and every track comes from a place of pain over the abuse and trauma experienced by Glass from a very young age. She lays her soul bare over the course of this record and the result is a messy, beautiful, real work of jagged art.
Best tracks: “Without Love”, “Forgiveness”, “Natural Selection”, “Blood Oath”
Something to Tell You by Haim
It’s awfully tempting to compare Haim to golden-era Fleetwood Mac, and while it’s true that they have a real penchant for carrying a strong retro groove through their strongest songs, they’ve also got a unique talent in their own right. The sleek arrangements and effortless navigation from hook to hook with each track helps to make a totally delightful sophomore effort. The ladies themselves sound awesome as well!
Best tracks: “Want You Back”, “Little of Your Love”, “Nothing’s Wrong”
The Navigator by Hurray for the Riff Raff
I have never heard the name Alynda Lee Segarra before 2017, but after this album I want to devour everything with which she executes her craft. The polished Americana production of this record is tinged with Latin American rhythms and sounds that make this one stand above the rest. Yet I think it’s Segarra’s presence itself that makes this record shine, with frequent callbacks to her Puerto Rican upbringing and the people that occupied it. It’s a beautiful, layered album that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Best tracks: “Hungry Ghost”, “Living in the City”, “The Navigator”, “Pa’lante”
Soft Sounds From Another Planet by Japanese Breakfast
2016’s Psychopomp may have turned me onto Japanese Breakfast (the solo project of Michelle Zauner), but it was her sophomore album that really made me a fan. It’s a nice little album that demonstrates, in equal measure, shoegaze chill, spacey synths, booming percussion, and Zauner’s understated performance. It’s a great album to get lost in, and would have definitely fit in with the shoegaze boom of the 90s.
Best tracks: “Road Head”, “Diving Woman”, “Boyish”, “Machinist”
Rainbow by Kesha
This is a miracle of an album. After loosening herself from the oppressive chains of her past, Kesha released Rainbow which feels as liberating of an album as ever. Despite the melancholy that hangs over some tracks, others reassure listeners that the performer is fully psyched for having a good time. This is a terrific pop album – dare I say, one of the best of its kind to come in several years. I wish all the love, light, and healing for Kesha Sebert.
Best tracks: “Praying”, “Woman”, “Hymn”, “Learn to Let Go”
Murder of the Universe by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
I never got fully on board with the King Gizzard love (I’ve only listened to three of the five albums from last year… I mean, geez) but Murder of the Universe is the one that has gotten me the closest. Even though it was released in June, the dark, apocalyptic feel of this album just feels like autumn, and I can definitely see myself revisiting this one every Halloweentime. I’m not the biggest fan of concept albums, but the guitars and spoken word are just so cool here, so I’ll gladly give an exception to this one.
Best tracks: This isn’t a track-by-track kind of album and should be listened to in completion… although “Lord of Lightning” rules.
La trenza by Mon Laferte
I’m so happy I discovered Mon Laferte this year and, concurrently, became more connected with my Latinx roots and culture. This just sounds like the kind of album that my grandma would enjoy, which only makes me love it all the more. It’s little more than a Latin pop album filled with Spanish-language love songs, but they all grab the ear so well, so there’s no reason for me to complain at all. Laferte also has quite a remarkable voice – that alone makes this more than worthwhile.
Best tracks: “Mi Buen Amor”, “Amárrame”, “Pa’ Dónde Se Fue”
Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman
For a while into the year, this was my favorite album – until I caught up with a bunch of other stuff and releases later in the year pushed this one away. Still, I want to emphasize that this is a really good record! Lekman has quite the knack for combining eccentric arrangements with truly unique lyricism that express cynical existentialism and delicate sentimentality in equal measure. It’s a truly colorful record and quite possibly Lekman’s masterpiece.
Best tracks: “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?”, “To Know Your Mission”, “How Can I Tell Him”
Melodrama by Lorde
The day I discovered Melodrama was during a particularly uncertain time in my personal life, and I listened to it twice in a row while walking from one side of my city to the other, alone and aimless. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better situation in which to discover it. Lorde’s lyricism has matured significantly and so many of her lines hit so incredibly close to home for me. It’s the most cathartic record of the year for me, and I can’t wait for every subsequent listen to fill my heart and belly with fire once again.
Best tracks: “Sober”, “Liability”, “Green Light”, “Perfect Places”, “The Louvre”
Culture by Migos
Migos has pretty much taken over the pop landscape at this point, but I cannot undervalue how much joy this album gave me the first time I gave it a play. It’s hedonistic, yes, and each song checks all the boxes that we could expect from Migos at this point. But the first half especially brings me back to a time when this sound was so new and fresh to me. It’s also a great party album, which is sufficient enough to love it, for me at least.
Best tracks: “Bad and Boujee”, “T-Shirt”, “Kelly Price”
A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie
The beginning lines of this album declare that death is “not for singing about; not for making art”… and that just about sums this up. Equipped with little more than a lone guitar, Phil Elverum mourns the death of his wife Geneviève Castrée in the only way possible. With every track, it feels like he is on the brink of falling apart completely and the album does not shy away from the truest concrete nature of his experiences. Nothing is romanticized. This honestly feels more of a healing mechanism for Elverum than it does an actual album, so it’s hard to recommend. With that said, it’s affected me on a deeper level than any piece of music in recent history. So take with that what you will.
Best tracks: Another album that must be taken in all at once, but I sometimes revisit “Real Death” when I want to appreciate the album but simply don’t have the emotional energy necessary to do so.
Sleep Well Beast by The National
Sleep Well Beast is The National doing what The National does best: tight melodies, darkened atmosphere, and polished guitars. The fact that this is one of the lesser albums from their catalog to which I’ve listened really demonstrates how consistent of a band they are. Anyway, this is just a really solid rock album, from a year where solid rock albums seem few and far between.
Best tracks: “Day I Die”, “Guilty Party”, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
After Laughter by Paramore
This album finds Fuse-era pop-punk darlings Paramore taking a detour into straight pop. And while so many others of their time have done similarly to disastrous results (looking at you, Fall Out Boy!), they seem to have struck gold with this one. Hayley Williams especially sounds totally in her element, emitting lyrics of anxiety and frustration that clash brilliantly with the bright, sunny production. This album kicks!
Best tracks: “Hard Times”, “Rose-Colored Boy”, “Told You So”
No Shape by Perfume Genius
A bunch of my favorite albums from this past year tend to lean pretty explicitly on the queer side of things, but No Shape might just be the queerest. The chamber pop of this album is absolutely beautiful, meshing so wonderfully with Mike Hadreas’s distinct, tender vocals. It’s overflowing with so much Sade-esque melodrama, it feels like its bursting at the seams, yet never falls over itself. A lovely piece of work.
Best tracks: “Die 4 You”, “Slip Away”, “Otherside”
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson by Ariel Pink
Ariel Pink’s brand of sonic weirdness isn’t always my favorite, but I can’t deny how much I enjoyed his latest release. It sounds like he just captured a bunch of elements of 80s new wave pastiche and stuck them in a blender until they were only mildly recognizable. Despite this sense of experimentation, though, the album remains thoroughly listenable and strangely nostalgic. It’s like another planet’s interpretation of the Psychedelic Furs.
Best tracks: “Time to Live”, “Another Weekend”, “Feels Like Heaven”
Now That the Light is Fading by Maggie Rogers
A short lil’ EP from an artist about whom I’ve heard nothing before 2017. After listening to this one a few times, though, I guarantee she’ll stay on my radar. She somehow manages to craft some earthy, introspective tunes while also keeping it fun, light, and lovely. Absolutely infectious.
Best tracks: “On + Off”, “Alaska”
Process by Sampha
This might be the first 2017 release I listened to that really blew me away and gave me high hopes for the remainder of the year. The electro-soul production is tight and dreamy throughout, and Sampha himself has a voice that’s bound to impress. It’s quiet enough to be pleasant background music, yet passionate enough to make for satisfying close listens as well. Looking forward to whatever else Sampha has up his sleeve!
Best tracks: “Blood on Me”, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”
Slowdive by Slowdive
Slowdive’s Souvlaki is one of my favorite albums ever and might be the one to really get me to love the shoegaze genre as a whole. I was excited to finally listen to their first album in almost twenty years, and while it’s definitely top-heavy, each track contains some interesting textures and sounds, immediately throwing me back to the days when I first fell in love with Slowdive. It may not be a mandatory listen, but it’s still real damn good.
Best tracks: “Slomo”, “Star Roving”, “Sugar For the Pill”
Hippopotamus by Sparks
At some point in making this list, I had to decide whether I would cut this album or Randy Newman’s Dark Matter from the final fifty. I stuck with leaving this one on, and I think it’s the correct choice. Through a series of interesting stylistic choices in sound and lyrics, Sparks craft what is probably the most idiosyncratic pop album of the year. I still think about how much this album took me by surprise all the time. Seriously, this one is fun.
Best tracks: “Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)”, “Giddy Giddy”, “I Wish You Were Fun”
Masseduction by St. Vincent
I must confess: I never really jumped onto the St. Vincent train, for some reason. But I could kick myself, after giving this album a listen. There is so much excellent electronic production and intriguing social commentary stuffed in this one, and Annie Clark herself is an excellent performer. The colorful energy in this one is infectious as hell – especially the sexy stuff.
Best tracks: “Los Ageless”, “Pills”, “New York”, “Happy Birthday, Johnny”
CTRL by SZA
Another album that thrives on the sexy stuff – but in a different way. This whole album is just so, so smooth, and a big part of this smoothness is from SZA herself. Her vibe throughout is just so relaxing, definitely helped by the teasingly intimate production work which consistently pushes against the presumed boundaries of R&B. This is a real treat for the ears, and I hope SZA becomes huge in the future.
Best tracks: “The Weekend”, “Love Galore”, “Drew Barrymore”
Crawl Space by Tei Shi
Smooth, synthy R&B seemed to be totally my thing in 2017, and this debut album was one of the most slept-on records of its type. Valerie Teicher (a.k.a. Tei Shi) skillfully balances the worlds of pop and R&B with equal vigor on both measures. Moreover, the electronic elements bring in some great, often really pretty atmosphere into the mix. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on this one.
Best tracks: “Keep Running”, “Baby”, “How Far”
Yours Conditionally by Tennis
I’ve never thought all too highly of Tennis in the past – I never disliked them, but their brand of twee indie pop never left much of an impression on me. This changed with Yours Conditionally, containing some of their most mature and polished work I’ve yet to hear from them. Sure, it’s still rather inoffensive and mainly aims to please, but it’s still a cute, satisfying listen nonetheless.
Best tracks: “In the Morning I’ll Be Better”, “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar”
Drunk by Thundercat
The album title is totally fitting. This is a great party album, but not necessarily an album you play when the party has peaked; rather, it’s when the party has passed its peak and is regressing into a gradual comedown that you should give this album a spin. The production is sleek, chill, and incredibly polished, and the guests appearances are great as well as Thundercat himself. It’s both retro and timely in all the best ways.
Best tracks: “Show You the Way”, “Them Changes”, “Walk on By”
Flower Boy by Tyler, the Creator
I never thought I would rank a Tyler, the Creator album among my favorites of the year, but here we are. There is an impressive amount of artistic growth on display here, especially with the absolutely beautiful, jazz-laden production and Tyler’s personal, introspective lyricism. The featured guest spots throughout are also some of the best of the entire year. Every listen I give this album fills me with so much overpowering emotion that just lingers long after the last track has finished. I’ve always been hesitant on Tyler as a whole, but I’m willing to push that aside for a mere hour if it gets us another Flower Boy.
Best tracks: “See You Again”, “911 / Mr. Lonely”, “Who Dat Boy”, “Garden Shed”
A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
If I was able to drive (epilepsy ruins everything), this would be my perfect driving album. With the very first listen I gave “Thinking of a Place”, I was immediately convinced that this would be the record of the year for me. Realistically, it’s not as life-changing as I was expecting, but it’s still a really great Heartland-style guitar-driven album, and sometimes that’s all you really need.
Best tracks: “Thinking of a Place”, “Strangest Thing”, “Holding On”, “Pain”
Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe
This shit is so heavy. I’ve been familiar with Chelsea Wolfe in passing, but never actually checked out her full-length works. Clearly, I’ve been missing out. The depth of sound on this album is absolutely incredible, especially when listened to with a good pair of headphones. Wolfe plays the part of a demon witch from hell so very convincingly (it’s a compliment!). It’s albums like this that make me seriously wonder why I don’t listen to more doom metal.
Best tracks: “Spun”, “16 Psyche”, “The Culling”
Beautiful Thugger Girls by Young Thug
Young Thug is simply too silly to be taken very seriously. The tracks on this album are a tad more refined than other songs I’ve heard of his, but it still contains his signature sing-rap style. And let it be known that his singing is god-awful. Still, I think that’s all part of the charm here – the production is decidedly a blending of country-rock and trap, which sounds atrocious on paper, yet somehow works here. I’ve still yet to be totally enamored by the artist, but this ain’t a bad start.
Best tracks: “Relationship”, “Family Don’t Matter”, “You Said”
Okovi by Zola Jesus
Fittingly, Zola Jesus’s latest album was one of the last from the year I listened to before starting this list. It’s hard to really sell darkwave to a general audience, but I think she at least makes some solid attempt here and these attempts result in some pretty compelling tracks. It’s all so moody and even apocalyptic at points; while the songs do tend to blend into one another after a while, there’s no denying that the end result is something truly unique and, sadly, fitting for the social atmosphere of the time.
Best tracks: “Exhumed”, “Remains”, “Half Life”