The Fifty Best Albums of 2015
Over the course of a few solitary days spent putting together the longlist of Best Fit's favourite albums of 2015, it hit me just what a great year it is for the concept behind an "album".
The fifty records on our list were chosen as a showcase for their groundbreaking innovation, musical and lyrical excellence, and their ability to use the album format as a creative tool.
Little Simz, Björk, Kendrick Lamar, Torres, Lonelady and Sufan Stevens are just a few of the artists who turned in outstanding work that relied on the framework of the album to structure their ideas. Sometimes the impact came from the struggle with the album format. Either way, blisteringly wonderful things happened.
One album stood our beyond all others though. Julia Holter made 2015's most unexpectedly perfect record. It's a record that - more than any other this year - demonstrates the unshakable bond between itself and the listener.A career high for Holter, she remains suprised and humbler by the reception Have You In My Wilderness received. "I just wrote songs and they somehow all seemed to work together," Holter told us. We talked to her in depth about the album's creation and how Holter feels a few months on from its release to celebrate it topping our albums of the year.
At its core, Best Fit is also about musical discovery and with that in mind we've tried to reach a little further across the year to highlight some of the underdogs on our list too: Floating Points, Daniel Romano, Kode9, Danny Seth, Sóley and GoldLink mined their own peculiar and brilliant takes on genre.
We haven't ranked these records. We all have our favourites. What a time to be alive huh?
If you can stretch your imagination five, ten, or even fifteen years down the line, you can sense on this record what at some new juncture will become the familiar clichés, tired tropes and default, uniform aesthetics for a new era of burgeoning musicians, even weirder and more fucked up than this one, looking to reconstruct and re-define the culture from within.
And, if you’ve got that far, you can begin to envisage, forming in the yet to be cast shadow of this record, the strange phantasmal outline of some obscure, unheard of rap collective, emerging in the ashes of the post-Obama, post-internet “swag-rap” era, equipped with a whole new wardrobe, a different cross-over influence and a whole new vocabulary, about to storm the palace and set the cycles in motion again.
Arca has a masterful talent for interweaving synthesizers and a tremendous technical understanding of building tracks that are at once gorgeous and metallurgical. On Mutant, his virtuoso skill continues to shine, albeit in an even less structured environment than his debut, Xen.
Through the intelligent, measured expansion of the artistic characteristics for which he has been so respected since his departure from The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones has confirmed his place among this country’s most vital contemporary songwriters with West Kirby County Primary.
Vulnicura is stark and powerful in a way that Björk has merely danced around for years. Here, in these songs, she has shed all of her skin: the lavish costumes, the genre-defying ambiguity, the punk rock empowerment, the unwavering emotional fortitude and the entirety of all assumed personalities that one might instinctively assign an icon.
On Vulnicura, she is simply Björk: a rattled human being caught within an emotional vortex, letting off the sort of violent chemical reflexes we are all prone to. Vulnicura is humanity at its most volatilely sublime.
Feels Like has that same infectious intensity that Weezer’s debut had; similarly capturing that coming-of-age spirit with refined rhythms and soaring guitars that can be both furious and fun. They’re sounds we’ve all heard before but done spectacularly. Couple that with Bognanno’s fearless honesty and Feels Like is an explosive debut that demands your attention. It’s the sort of record that leaves you chomping at the bit, excited to see what Bully have up their sleeve next, and very much deserving of the hype.