On the record 2017, Part 10: Full of innovation and wonder and tension

Here we are with the final round-up of 2017, another 100 albums done and dusted and what a brilliant journey it has been. This selection takes place amongst the time I was eagerly anticipating Taylor Swift’s album, and then doing my best to avoid it. Weird times.

With all the albums listened to and reviewed, now I have to go away and think about my top five of the year, and the more difficult question of which are the best albums I’ve listened to across two years. No biggie!

Week 46

  • Crooked Calypso, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott
    A nice selection of songs that are exactly what you’d expect from these two Beautiful South alumni. Finely crafted, expert lyrics and some catchy sing-a-long beats with hidden depths. I really love Jacqui’s voice, and it’s great how the two work well separately and together within songs.
  • Toto IV, Toto
    Loved it. The album is bookended by two fantastic songs, starting with Roseanna and ending with Africa, but in between is a wealth of 80s fun and games. It’s not necessarily aged very well, but equally doesn’t sound horribly dated, you just sort of engage in the 80s sound and go along for the ride.

Week 47

  • Flicker, Niall Horan
    This album is exactly what I expected it to be – perfectly pleasant but not exceptional. I really like Slow Hands, but the rest of it doesn’t really stand out. It’s a good, solid work, and I like it better than Harry’s experimental efforts, but I can’t say it’ll stick with me.
  • Breathe, Faith Hill
    This is a proper country album, good work from Faith Hill, with some classic country songs on there. It meanders through love and loss, what ifs and maybes, and is your standard country rollercoaster ride. Nice but probably not one of my favourites.

Week 48

  • Who Built the Moon?, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
    I wasn’t sure what to make of this one initially, but it grew on me on the second listen. It felt like Noel was distancing himself from previous work but didn’t go as far as, say, Harry Styles did. It’s definitely more experimental than Oasis’ work which I liked, but still has great tunes and interesting lyrics.
  • Tango in the Night, Fleetwood Mac
    Ooh, I really liked this album. For a brief moment I thought I liked it more than Rumours but then I came to my senses. Some great songs on there though, and kicking off with Big Love really sets the scene for the rest of the brilliant album.

Week 49

  • Songs of Experience, U2
    Nice album, this one. I feel like it’s a return to form by the band, more relevant than some of their other work, but I do think it’s lacking some big memorable songs. The single is good but otherwise nothing really stands out. Good music to work to though.
  • Lungs, Florence and the Machine
    I’ve never really been a fan of Flo, I think she’s got an incredible voice and is exceptionally talented but it’s just not really been to my taste. So I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy the album but actually it was much better than I thought. You get used to the voice after a while and the songs are marvellously eclectic.

Week 50

  • Visions of a Life, Wolf Alice
    This is a great album, full of innovation and wonder and tension, guitars and rock and rhythm. I’m not always so keen on the songs that experiment from popular formulas but I really liked Sky Musings, and Don’t Delete the Kisses is a classic. Great rock that will be listenable over and over for a while yet.
  • Millennium, Backstreet Boys
    I mean, I love this album. Mr C very kindly gave me the choice of BSB albums to round off the year with, and although I didn’t know it before I made the selection, this one is my favourite. It’s the boys at the height of their fame, at the height of my fandom, and it’s stacked full of pure, unadulterated pop pleasure.