Albums of the Year: 2015 20) Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys The Mercury nominated ex-Moloko vocalist peaks in maturity in structure and scope on this ever expanding and immersive noir-dance record. It is disco of the highest order for taste of utter sophistication leaving behind the reliance of synth for further leanings on guitar and reverb, exemplified perfectly in the insatiably early single ‘Exile’. 19) Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness The Kate Bush influence is alarmingly evident on ‘Night Song’ as Holter breaths life into its instrumental structure whilst ‘Feel You’ is light, aerial and playful similar to the works of PJ Harvey and Joanna Newsom. ‘Have You in My Wilderness’ collates a worthy career thus far and accentuates all of the things Julia does exceptionally well. 18) Real Lies – Real Life Mike Skinner style delivery and garage revival makes Real Lies’ debut album an absolute joy. The band’s uniting live performance and cutting social commentary on life in the capital city has seen their reputation explode in 2015 and October’s ‘Real Life’ made good on the promise of ‘North Circular’ and the New Orderesque ‘Seven Sisters’. 17) Georgia – Georgia Experimentation has been rife in 2015 yet edging the competition is British singer/songwriter Georgia. The feisty female successfully merges influence of M.I.A and Tricky in the trip hop ‘Move Systems’ with tenderly written ‘Heart Wrecking Animals’. This is a captivating collection of songs that offers strange familiarity alongside a sea of erratic guitar led soundscapes. ‘Kombine’ and ‘Nothing Solutions’ identify Georgia as a potential answer to an experimental gap left open by the likes of Massive Attack. 16) Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon The fractured femme-fatal begins her mournful third album with a six minute ode to her fictional fiancee as we step further into the glamorous feature film of this gangster Sinatra with the silky vocal and somber soul. Del Rey’s commitment to cause and theme is the most substantial on this record as she wholly performs her portrayal of heartbreak with endearing theatrical compassion. In a world of faceless recording artists, it is refreshing to see consideration of character. 15) All We Are – All We Are There has been a huge amount of indie debuts acclaimed in 2015 yet one of the most unassumingly consistent came from multinational trio All We Are. The ensemble operating out of Liverpool set the smaller stages of festivals including Green Man and Bushstock alight with their dynamic and instinctive live performance. Through the help of BBC6 Music, ‘Honey’ and ‘Stone’ have become modern indie anthems within their intimate circle of fans which is ever expanding. 14) Purity Ring – Another Eternity Alberta duo Corin Roddick and Megan James followed their cult acclaimed debut ‘Shrines’ earlier this year with an amplified record entitled ‘Another Eternity’. It divided opinion across the fanbase and critic network yet the exceptional production and convoluted songwriting remains near identical to its predecessor. This album is a remarkable example of genre manipulation as the pair take the conventions of pop and electronica in ambitious and unanticipated directions. 13) Marika Hackman – We Slept At Last A divinely delicate debut from one of the UK’s most promising singer/songwriters made for one of the most intriguing and compelling albums of the year. Its unpredictability and intrinsic understanding of vocal capability makes tracks including ‘Drown’ and ‘Open Wide’ sinisterly seductive as Hackman’s alluring vocal beckons you to peer closer into her disjointed universe. 12) SEXWITCH – SEXWITCH A project of boldness and unavoidable adversity could not deter the determination of Natasha Khan, Dan Carey and TOY in their creation of ‘SEXWITCH’. A concept album of covers centring around tales of heartbreak from across the globe may sound like a Mercury Prize judge’s wet dream yet the visceral quality of the translation and sheer femininity conveyed in Natasha Khan’s delivery guaranteed this to be one of the strongest psychedelic releases for a number of years. 11) Say Lou Lou – Lucid Dreaming The dreamy Scandi-Australian sister hybrid Say Lou Lou crafted one of the purest and perfected pop records of 2015. With previewed works including ‘Beloved’ and a collaboration with Chet Faker, ‘Lucid Dreaming’ collates the bright style into a consistent and uplifting record. Its brilliance lies in its bold stature as soaring tracks including ‘Everything We Touch’ and the achingly cool ‘Games For Girls’ epitomise Elektra and Miranda’s fiery personalities. 10) Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool Taking a ferocious bite out of the music industry in 2015, London grungers Wolf Alice made good on promises formed in the preceding year with solid EPs and self-affirming live performance. ‘My Love is Cool’ was not wall to wall sound barrage rather carefully designed alt-rock tracks such as opener ‘Turn To Dust’ which simply amplify with the unrivalled power of ‘Fluffy’ and ‘Giant Peach’. 9) Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell Michigan’s most well spoken musician released his seventh studio album in late March to rave reviews from critics globally. Tenderness and heart wrenching delivery is not particularly new ground for Stevens however this documentation and tribute to his recently departed mother Carrie plumbs new depths of emotion and grips its listeners in ways like never before. A return to instrumentation and folk compliments the record as there is near to no distraction from this biographical songwriting style. 8) Laura Marling – Short Movie The soft spoken songstress weaves tales of home sickness and sorrow on her fifth studio album. Capitalising on her abilities with electric guitar, this album is Laura’s most honest and raw collection so far and stands as a complete collection to be enjoyed from the first ominous tones of ‘Warrior’ to the hymnal finale of ‘Worship Me’. Through the accessibility of ‘I Feel Your Love’ and the self indulgence of ‘Howl’ Marling proves herself once more as a fearlessly independent artist free from the restraints often affiliated with major label releases. 7) John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure The ex-Czars frontman released the third album in his solo discography to critical acclaim in October this year and it marked a current high in the soloists’ career. The disco drenched ‘Disappointing’ featuring Tracy Thorn is one of this year’s finest alt-dance floor fillers of 2015 whilst elsewhere Grant demonstrates his intelligence in writing through tongue in cheek ‘Snug Slacks’ and the eye watering insulting ‘You & Him’. 6) Shamir – Ratchet To the States once more for a debut from one of the most self assured and worldly aware new musicians, Shamir Bailey. The convinced teenager does so many things right on this record you wonder how it is all possible for a 19 year old. It successfully translates the tone of growing up in the surrealistic circus of Las Vegas (‘Make A Scene’ ‘Hot Mess’) whilst exemplifying his knowledge of disco, hip hop and electronica (‘Demon’ ‘In For the Kill’ ‘Head In the Clouds’) in a perfectly designed ten track package. 5) Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful The much anticipated third album from Florence Welch and her self assembled backing band delivered on all counts of originality and truth of purpose. The most raw and personal record of the band’s career has now received five Grammy nominations, saw them rise to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic as well as topping the prestigious Pyramid at Glastonbury. The scarce brilliance of this LP is that the band achieved all of the former accomplishments without the need of ghost writers, record label influence or purpose designed chart toppers; in reality an immaculate collection of eleven tracks assured 2015 belonged to the flame haired, twinkle toed maiden. 4) Björk – Vulnicura Whilst the whole world fell apart as a certain London singer whispered hello to an ex-lover in October, they seemed to forget a far more sincere and emotive breakup album had been released ten months previous. Icelandic icon Björk released a nine song chronological commentary of the breakdown of her marriage paired together with some of the most luxurious and luscious string arrangements since the days of ‘Vespertine’. The early leak did not effect the album’s momentum and the tour was cited as some of Björk’s most evocative performance’s for years before coming to an abrupt finale due to the emotional weight of the material. The overall artistic grandeur of this project aided by Andrew Huang and M/M Paris as well as the Moma exhibition once again reaffirm Björk’s reputation as one of the world’s most creative artists. 3) Foals – What Went Down It seems to be a cruel joke that the Oxford math rockers consistently fall short of the UK chart top spot. Nevertheless, a chart position does not deduct anything from the proficiency of the quintet’s fourth album. It manages the difficult feat of raising the bar higher than ‘Holy Fire’ and through ferocity on the title track to the moody ambience of ‘London Thunder’ the group sign off another checkpoint on their seven year climb to the top of festival bills. An outrageous UK tour marks the beginning of a new era for the band as they prepare to play sold out dates at some of the country’s largest venue including the SSE, Wembley and this album is going to be their most mighty ammunition. 2) The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It British guitar institution The Maccabees rose triumphantly to the top of the UK album charts with their fourth record ‘Marks To Prove It’ this summer and a rightly deserved accolade to the group’s most consistent and considered record to date. Despite early teething problems, they successfully selected the finest moments of all three predecessors and emphasised them on the infectiously anthemic title track, the playfully intoxicating ‘WW1 Portraits’ and the avant-garde ‘River Song’. An ode to their hometown and the missing beauties all around us, this album expands and alters with each listen finding new moments of perfect imperfection. 1) Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear Could it really have been any other? Our year has been soundtracked by this perfect collection of modern day folk-rock ditties from the inscrutable and insanely intelligent Josh Tillman. His vapid self loathing, venomous lyrical tongue and pantomime stage persona have made his second studio album a perfect representation of modern life in the USA as he addresses personal demons along with modern inventions such as social media curses, the hidden laws of courting and the crippling monotony of daily life. Deep depression, breath wrenching humour and poetic filth make this a cinematic 45 minute epic narrated by one of music’s most unexpected heroes.