Albums of the year 2017: Three highlights

Short reviews I wrote for a longer Epigram feature. GIF produced by myself. See the physical copy here.

Thundercat – Drunk

After a couple of years, Thundercat has returned to the scene with style, sass, and a 23-track record. Combining the upbeat influences present in 2011’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse alongside the slick, slowed breakbeats of The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam, Thundercat’s latest contribution curates a fine-tuned amalgamation of his broad stylistic ability.

Drunk renews Thundercat’s contribution to jazz fusion; erratic, scaling bass melodies and syncopated beats are reminiscent of the traditional, while Bruner’s soulful harmonies and features from the likes of Kendrick push levelling neoteric influences onto the record, precisely capturing what 2017 sound and production is capable of. And it’s not just the sound itself that signals awareness of the contemporary. Lead track ‘Friendzone’ is a swiping, triumphant snap at manipulation, and empowers any 2017 listener with similar, romantic troubles. Bitchy has never been so admirable.

Jay Som – Everybody Works

Jay Som finally released her debut album this year, after spending a long while shoving snippets of her dainty bedroom-sound onto Soundcloud. Everybody Works is an uplifting, contemplative and self-assured record, combining the very best of Som’s characteristic dream-pop.

The album carefully rocks between various alt influences including acoustic and grunge but convincingly holds the bounds of Som’s distinct sound. Between the alluring melody of ‘Baybee’ and the dirty twanged bridge of ‘1 Billion Dogs,’ Som seizes the opportunity to establish herself as a versatile but unique artist, evidencing something divergent of the sometimes safe-playing DIY genre.

Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me

Mount Eerie’s beautiful A Crow Looked at Me is not easy listening, but for all the right reasons. The record is a testament to the death of his wife, and the time they and their young daughter spent together shortly beforehand. The album is a stripped back embodiment of his experiences, with a controlled, half-sang monologue of sentiments about and toward his deceased partner.

Lyrically, the song reflects a poetic mastery and plays a central role on the album. The tender agony of Elverum’s loss soaks the record and leaves the listener enveloped in this tragedy. Beneath the narratives of his lost lover, soft acoustic melodies, and occasionally muted beats uphold his feeble, off-beat narration. Although extremely simple, the album carries the ability to bring a listener into contemplative silence which is sure to count for something.

 

 

 

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