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".
Cranekiss shows the logical progression of an artist who quite rightly acknowledges that she’d gone as far as she could with the aloof murkiness of her first two albums. By taking a sharp turn into the light, the shades of grey of her older material have been splattered by blasts of glorious technicolour, a move resulting in her best album to date.
There lies something of a tension in Tobias Jesso Jr.'s hymns of failure, softly articulated emotional deserts, and his burgeoning success as a pop artist. It's not that famous people aren't miserable, they're just differently miserable; they are legibly, theatrically miserable. And some of the exhaustion on Goon is a lack of emotional range. The continued packaging and shrinking of love and misery for commercial consumption, something Jesso Jr. doesn't do cynically, but he does it so well and so often.
Sprinter, the second full-length from the Macon, Georgia-raised and Brooklyn-based alt. country troubadour Torres (aka) Mackenzie Scott is simply stunning. It arrived two years after her self-titled debut, a record with a lengthy gestation period and lots of dark relationship traumas. Few would consider that record anything less than exceptional, but Sprinter surpasses even that. In many ways it’s the most personal album we’ve seen in 2015. Intensely introspective, we see Scott traipse through her subconscious, dismantle religion – not to destroy but dissect its inner workings – and provide a critical vignette of what Southern American life is like to someone with a quiver of gripes.
It’s a ruthlessly effective album too. At every turn you’re met with a salt-of-the-earth sincerity, gut-pour emotions and the stark reality of what goes on inside Scott’s skull. There’s an honesty that’s unflinching, and tough topics with complex non-solutions are embraced with wide-flung arms; this is an artist unafraid to peel back and reveal the grotesque, writhing, oozing innards of society’s flashpoints, and she does so with undeterred poignancy.
This record is a veritable patchwork of perspectives. It elevates the voices of women who, on paper, might seem broken, were it not for Remy’s ability to trade desperation for cynical dynamism. Though they don’t make reparations, Remy ensures that the cast of Half Free have their respective moments of redemption.
There is no denying the raw power of Viet Cong and anyone with punk in their heart will connect with this album. Away from all the technological, medicinal and social advances of the age, in the forefront of our minds we are constantly (made) aware of human misery and degradation. Death is our common denominator. Death is our malefactor and great unifier. The best albums allow us to ruminate on life’s big questions, giving insight not only into the mind of the artist but reflecting the sentiments of the beholder, and Viet Cong does exactly that.