Young Turks

The 25 Best Albums of 2014
The 25 Best Albums of 2014

10

Röyksopp and Robyn, Do It Again

Leave it to these two EDM pioneers to find a blissful, innovative take on electro-house that suggests there’s still some life in this well-trod genre. That impressive feat comes on the title track to this collaborative “mini-album.” The title track manages this by applying some much-needed discipline to the glitter-splattered aimlessness that often gluts would-be club hits. Yes, the cheesy keys are there, but the tactical precision with which they’re employed suggests its creators know how to use shopworn genre tropes to get maximum earworm impact. “Say It” is another rager, warping vintage progressive electro sounds to concoct something Sasha would be proud to crush a dance floor with. The rest of the album is surprisingly gentle, beginning and ending with 10-minute downtempo anthems, the latter of which, “Inside the Idle Hour Club,” sounds like Groove Armada lovingly chopping and remixing the instrumental bits of Dark Side of the Moon. Sullivan

The 25 Best Albums of 2014

9

Hozier, Hozier

Anyone who can fit a chart-topping single and a love song about two corpses decomposing side by side on the same album deserves all the attention that Andrew Hozier-Byrne received this year. The Irish singer’s hit “Take Me to Church” marries gospel bombast, electric-guitar distortion, and clever lyrics reclaiming the sin of lust as an object for worship, both in the bedroom and in church. Taking a similarly counterintuitive approach to everlasting love, the duet “In a Week” fixates on the period of time between two lovers’ deaths and the moment their bodies will be found, “after the insects have made their claim” and “the foxes have known our taste.” Effortlessly sliding between macabre poetry, rhythm-n’-blues swagger, and handclap-laden spirituals, Hozier contains multitudes, while maintaining the consistency imposed by a singular, visionary mind. Galvin

The 25 Best Albums of 2014

8

Banks, Goddess

The alt-pop landscape in 2014 was crowded with sultry female singers backed by über-hip electronic beatscapes, yet Jillian Banks managed to rise above the fray with her debut. Working with seasoned electronic producers Justin Parker and Jamie Woon, Banks nails the form-matching-content sweet spot on tracks like “Alibi,” where interlocking synth drones and skittering snaps complement her falsetto plea to a former lover: “Please, give me something to convince me that I am not a monster.” Banks excels at modulating her delivery to project a range of emotional states, from harried desperation on “Beggin for Thread” to finger-wagging sass on “Fuck Em Only We Know.” On the title track, Banks declares that mistreating women constitutes straight-up sacrilege, and “fucking with a goddess” sounds even less excusable when accentuated by a punch-in-the-gut bass drop. Galvin

The 25 Best Albums of 2014

7

FKA twigs, LP1

FKA twigs (a.k.a. Tahliah Barnett) makes R&B, I guess, but it’s as menacing, incantatory, and experimental as anything Björk has done. Danceable grooves are arrested, deconstructed, and released again in arrhythmic chaos, surrounded by car alarms, digital sonic sludge, and frosted synths. twigs’s lyrics are equally surreal: On “Two Weeks,” she threatens to “pull out the incisor” and promises that in “two weeks you won’t recognize her.” Her first brush with fame was as a dancer for Ed Sheeran and Jessie J, and the industrial anonymity of the position persists in her own music, especially in “Video Girl,” which repeats the question, “Is she the girls from the video?” and answers, “I can’t recognize me.” For the rest of us, she’s unmistakable. Caldwell

The 25 Best Albums of 2014

6

Jessie Ware, Tough Love

Jessie Ware’s sophomore effort, Tough Love, doesn’t contain the obvious singles and peaks of her debut, but it doesn’t need them. The entire album rides a sinuous groove, from the breezy “Keep on Lying” and the hesitant, softly bubbling “Kind of…Sometimes…Maybe” to the more insistent “Sweetest Song” and the Prince-esque title track. And while Prince’s influence can certainly be felt here, it’s much less pronounced than on Devotion; a more accurate touchstone would be Sade. “Timeless” is a term often affixed to Ware’s music, and it’s an apt one: Tough Love could have been released at any point in the last 30 years and still sound positively fresh, its modern, muted atmospherics and vintage R&B touches swirling around Ware’s supple, emotive voice. Cinquemani

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