Image Credit: Flightless Records
Oh Wonder - Oh Wonder
This self-titled debut is a dreamy pop album that is relatively minimalist and definitely not the most experimental on this list. However, the satisfying harmonies and gorgeous blend of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West’s voices makes for a beautiful collection of reflective songs that provide the perfect soundtrack to any rainy day. These are interspersed with some more uplifting pop anthems like ‘Lose It’ (which we are undoubtedly all doing at the moment). With coffee shops shut at the moment, you can almost create your own at home with this album- it provides the perfect backdrop to any wannabe at-home baristas and creates a great chilled-out study space.
Circa Waves - Young Chasers
Although we might not be able to go to the beach and enjoy the sunshine yet, these indie-rockers will certainly lift your spirits and get you in the mood for summer. Immediately, the record plunges you into soaring ‘summery’ tunes that ought to be blasted through a car stereo on the way to the beach. The energetic drums and strong guitar riffs are interrupted only once with ‘Deserve This’, which provides an elegant melancholic break that is reminiscent of many of Mac Demarco’s relaxing summer ballads.
Glass Animals - Zaba
Glass Animals are undoubtedly one of the most individual British bands on the music scene right now, no one can seem to pin them down. Described by The Line of Best Fit as a “narcotised stream-of-consciousness”, this album is definitely drenched in psychedelia, but synthpop, trip-hop and 90s pop also come into the mix.
Slowthai - Nothing Great About Britain
On this, his debut album, Slowthai swears at the Queen and examines issues like Brexit, poverty and class hostility, as he tells the tale of trying to pull a posh girl. These abstract stories add up to a comedic but highly politicised portrait of the UK. He said to the Guardian “I love Britain, but we’re losing sight of what makes us great”- this anger is apparent in his aggressive more grime influenced songs like ‘Doorman’. But this also seems to be a very personal and nostalgic album, as he looks back on his childhood in the R&B style ‘Gorgeous’ which features a more gentle twinkling piano and a simplistic saxophone riff.
The Beatles - Rubber Soul
This may not be the most memorable of the Beatle’s albums, but it marked a departure from the youthful pop which fuelled Beatlemania, and the start of the experimental period of their careers. As such, it provides a nice balance of catchy melodies with tunes such as ‘Drive My Car’, while also using more interesting and colourful timbres, as they start to branch out with instruments like sitars. However, unlike their later more experimental releases Revolver and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this makes for easier and more relaxed listening.
Tash Sultana - Flow State
This Australian singer-songwriter started out as a busker on the streets of Sidney armed with just a guitar and a loop-pedal. Now, her work features a whole range of instruments (all of which she plays herself), including the occasional trumpet. This album does what it says on the tin- it flows incredibly well, something which a lot of albums nowadays tend to miss. It makes for a great late night multi-dimensional listen, which can help you to unwind if your family are starting to drive you up the wall.
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
While students everywhere mourn the loss of their club nights, the indie-rock classics from this album like ‘I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor’ and ‘Mardy Bum’ can provide some relief. Turner’s hyper-realistic lyrics detail their first ventures into love and working-class clubbing. The relentless heavy guitar riffs, lively drums, and Yorkshire hollering create a crazy cacophony that will undoubtedly get you dancing.
**Kate Bush - **Hounds of Love
With this self-produced fifth album, Kate Bush really came into her element as she had free rein to explore the possibilities of combining unusual folk instruments with modern pop instruments. She employs a huge range of samples too, from a steam engine at the end of ‘Cloudbusting’ to a radio shipping forecast in ‘And dream of sheep’ and sustained vocal samples in ‘Under Ice’. She masterfully combines all of these different elements to create a concept album which tells a lot of fictional dream-like stories, as well as bringing contemporary issues like gender-equality into the forefront.
The Weeknd - After Hours
The Weeknd’s latest breakup album, dubbed “The Ballad of Bella Hadid” by Rolling Stone, provides a stark contrast of R&B style soulful songs, with the sing-along 80s synth-pop anthem Blinding Lights. All of these are blended together to fit with the album’s sense of nostalgia. Lyrically, there is a clear sense of narrative cohesion; the songs here flow exceptionally well and give a logical picture of the many different post-breakup feelings.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Paper Mâché Dream Balloon
This acoustic album transports you back to 1968, as the band experiment for the first time with a more laidback-pop style than their previous garage-psych albums. Only a band with a name as wacky as this could bring instruments like clarinets and flutes back into popular modern music. The catchy vocal melodies combined with layers upon layers of experimental instrumentation creates a feel-good light-psych pop sound with hints of jazz in places.