40. Ryuichi Sakamoto – async
After eight years of silence and a three-years battle with throat cancer, the Japanese maestro returns with an album that synthesizes in fourteen tracks the sound he developed through years of sonic experimentation with Alva Noto, Christian Fennesz and Rafael Anton Irrisari, and his experience as a movies’ soundtrack composer. The minimalistic textures of a record like Insen, both bright and claustrophobic, open up to a more cinematic dynamism and become the sonic layers of missing footages.
async could be in fact considered, as Sakamoto stated himself, like an OTS for a non-existing movie, a movie about how life’s ending and the acceptance of death.
Best track: Solari.
39. Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
Kelly Lee Owens can be considered as one of the best debut albums of the year, founding its roots in techno sounds of the past years, Kelly has rebuilt the genre in a pop way. With soft kicks and a substantial use of echo and reverb on his sweet voice she sound-designed the record in an ambient-pop release. Kelly Lee Owens is a meeting point for all the lovers of the purest clubbing music and for those who prefer a bit of sophistication instead a danceable sound.
Best track: Keep Walking.
38. Four Tet – New Energy
With New Energy, Four Tet has returned to his roots in chilly-but-emotive ambient bliss. In his classic fashion, he’s crafted an organic electronic style of music that’s danceable but never makes dancing its focus—it demands nothing of the listener but relaxation and pleasure as it moves between Four Tet’s formulaic application of eastern acoustics and melodies to western techno structures.
Best track: Planet.
37. Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder
The most positive aspect that Hug of Thunder presents to the listener is the coherence of the album structure, a slideshow of great songs notably put together, and the capacity of the many performers and songwriters to influence one another without trashing the paint. The entire record treats adult themes with sensitivity and shows incredible variety, delivering a couple of unforgettable songs, filled lyrics that put into words the fears of any of us.
Best track: Hug of Thunder.
Read more in Hug of Thunder review.
36. Alvvays – Antisocialities
On their sophomore album Antisocialites, Alvvays up their game with more accomplished songwriting backed by their already great combination of dream pop, jangle pop and indie rock. Similar to their debut album, Antisocialites is a short and consistent album that knows its boundaries and never outstays its welcome, which is exactly fitting to the style of music the band makes. Playing to their strengths, Alvvays created a little gem full of melancholy and colour that has great playback quality.
Best track: Dreams Tonite.
Read more in Antisocialities review.
35. Brockhampton – Saturation I
Five years after Odd Future’s debut album, who would have thought a new collective born in the Kanyetothe forum would upset the hip-hop world with a phenomenal trilogy released in just half year. When Saturation I was released it seemed to be one of the best hip-hop releases of 2017, but in their following releases they continuously evolved their own sound with more solidity and a more inspired production. This album can be considered as a self-introduction of a “boy band” who sharply influenced all the hip-hop scene.
Best track: HEAT.
34. Lee Gamble – Mnestic Pressure
In his first album released under Hyperdub Records, Lee gamble embraced a fresh and probably his most experimental style. Instead his 2014’s techno KOCH, in Mnestic Pressure Lee sound-designed a futuristic and fully immersive IDM release, the listener is dragged into an ambient environment where the tracks alternate discontinuous rhythmic and melodic sections.
Best track: Istian.
33. Kelela – Take Me Apart
With Take Me Apart Kelela opens up a space where she can express herself freely, sexually, musically, and while doing so, she also proclaims herself as a pop-icon. But, like Björk did in the 90’s, she refused to sacrifice the quality of her music for a greater accessibility and choose to work side by side with some of the most innovative producers of this decade and bring to the public a high-quality, Avant-R&B record, as good as entertaining.
Best track: LMK.
32. Jlin – Black Origami
Jerrilynn Patton aka Jlin came out of nowhere in 2015 with her critically acclaimed debut LP Dark Energy, where she choose an unpredictable array of sounds and assembled them into a mind-blowing bunch of samples that definitely caught our attention. Her latest work Black Origami is a manifest of the cultural melting pot of our generation: Jlin collaborated with Willam Basinski and Holly Herndon, she shaped her sounds from Afro and Indian music, while the Brit collaborators of Planet Mu label Fabian Harb and Joe Shakespeare curated the overall design of the album. This combination gives a personal and intimate feeling to the work, that ends up being even darker than its predecessor. Variety has never been a problem for footwork, but no one has ever mastered all the different influences as Jerrilynn has done here, managing to create a cohesive but still chaotic imaginary.
Best track: Nyakinyua Rise.
Read more in Black Origami review.
31. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
Crack-up is the natural result of the growth of a man who sort of found himself and his own peace of mind finally managing to truly reconcile his inside with his outside, and who consciously transposed this aspect in music in an authentic cathartic work of rebirth in its wide movements and light-hearted still mature sounds. It might be hasty to say that we’re facing Fleet Foxes‘ greatest work, let’s just say we’ve definitely got good reasons to expect the very best from it.
Best track: If You Need to, Keep Time on Me.
Read more in Crack-Up review.