In a year of confusion, 2017 turned to be a tremendous year for music; artists got political and personal. Taylor Swift generated a new narrative while Lorde got to explore new emotions inspired by her break up; we got classic rock from Harry Styles and Kesha; and we got pop from iconic rock bands like Queens Of The Stone Age and surprises from Foo Fighters. Read below our list of the 30 best albums of 2017.
30. Barns Courtney – ‘The Attractions Of Youth’
‘The Attractions OF Youth’ is indie rock artist Barns Courtney‘s debut album. Heavily influenced by The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Coldplay, and his dark past with the music industry (he was signed at 14 but dropped before his first album was released); the rocker made his way into the soundtrack of Burnt. Before the release of his first full-length album, Courtney issued the Dull Drums EP in early 2017.
29. Beck – ‘Colors‘
‘Colors’ is the thirteenth overall studio album by American musician Beck, released on October 13, 2017. Beck described the recording process, saying “for the first year, we were experimenting and there was a lot of trial and error. I was touring constantly while making it, so I was attempting to bring some of that energy back to the studio, ‘Dreams’ was one of the early songs to come along.” “these are complex songs all trying to do two or three things at once. It’s not retro and not modern. ”
28. Phoenix – ‘Ti Amo‘
‘Ti Amo’ is the sixth studio album by French band Phoenix. It was released on 9 June 2017. The band said in a press release that the album is about “our European, Latin roots, a fantasized version of Italy: a lost paradise made of eternal Roman summers (hyper-light, hyper-clarity, pistachio gelato), juke-boxes on the beach, fearless desire and Antique marble statues“, and that the songs focus on “simple, pure emotions: love, desire, lust, and innocence“; overall, it is a good romantic, glossy, soft-pop ode to sweet escapes and dance floors.
27. Paramore – ‘After Laughter‘
Paramore’s fifth album was recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A – also their first time recording in their beloved hometown. Produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen (M83, Jimmy Eat World, Beck) and Paramore‘s own Taylor York, ‘After Laughter’ signalled the return of founding member Zac Farro to the band. ‘After Laughter‘ is heavily influenced by the styles of 1980s rock and pop; and touches on themes of exhaustion, depression and anxiety, contrasting with the upbeat and vibrant sound of the record.
26. Lana del Rey – “Lust For Life“
Lana del Rey‘s ‘Lust For Life‘ is her fourth major label studio album and was released July 21st, 2017. The record deals with familiar themes for Lana, such as old Hollywood glamour and terrible love; and is filled with references to pop culture and high end guest appearances like Stevie Nicks and A$AP Rocky. The album is nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Pop Vocal Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
25. Khalid – ‘American Teen‘
‘American Teen‘ is the debut studio album by American singer Khalid. It was released on March 3, 2017. He sings about kids who didn’t have money or cars; who still lived with their parents. “I’m an African-American man with an Afro, who isn’t your typical athlete – who wasn’t as masculine as other guys,” Khalid told Rolling Stone. “And now people are looking at me like, this is ‘The American Teen.”
24. Harry Styles – ‘Harry Styles‘
Harry Styles, being once in one of the most popular boy bands in the world, decide to make his debut solo album a tribute to classic rock n’ roll. Styles wants to be THE rockstar, and the first single “Sign of the Times” is a pop rock, soft rock ballad which musically exposes Styles‘ aspirations. The One Direction member’s shows off his exceptional voice; it is so captivating, the album certified gold in six countries, including the UK and US.
23. Migos – ‘Culture‘
“Culture”, Migos‘ second studio album, was released on January 27th, 2017. It was preceded by four well-received singles, including “Bad and Boujee” and “T-Shirt.” ‘Culture‘ was nominated for a Grammy® Award in the category for Best Rap Album, which goes on to prove that Migos have been one of the most influential and one of the best acts in hip-hop.
22. Björk – ‘Utopia‘
“Utopia” is the ninth studio album by Icelandic singer-musician Björk, released on 24 November 2017. For this album Björk formed a twelve piece, Icelandic, all-women flute orchestra, which she arranged for and conducted. Bjork’s ‘Utopia‘ is deeply personal; it’s an album about love arriving in unexpected and overpowering ways.
21. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – ‘Who Built The Moon‘
‘Who Built the Moon?’ is the third studio album by English rock band Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. It was released on 24 November 2017, through Sour Mash Records. This album is their most expansive yet, Gallagher internalizes late 90’s britpop and sounds like he’s genuinely having a really good time.
20. Tove Lo – ‘Blue Lips‘
‘Blue Lips‘ (‘Lady Wood’s intended companion) it the third studio album of sweedish singer Tove Lo, it was released November 17th, 2017. ‘Blue Lips’ contains parts three and four of Tove Lo‘s concept albums. Tove Lo said that thematically ‘Blue Lips‘ would be a “dramatic” and “highly emotional” sister to ‘Lady Wood‘; both parts of ‘Blue Lips‘ chronicle the stages of a tumultuous romantic relationship, doomed by a self-destructive passion. The singer said: “I think sonically, I’ve been a bit more free this time,” and the record ended being a sexual and emotionally impactful piece of work.
19. The War On Drugs – ‘A Deeper Understanding‘
The War On Drugs fourth full-length album, ‘A Deeper Understanding’ was released August 25th on Atlantic Records after 2014’s ‘Lost In The Dream’. Frontman Adam Granduciel teamed up with engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer), and both challenged the notion of what it means to create a fully realized piece of music in today’s modern landscape. The result is a “band record” in the noblest sense, featuring collaboration, coordination, and confidence at every turn.
18. Alt-J – ‘Relaxer‘
‘Relaxer‘ is the third studio album by indie rock band Alt-J, released on 2 June 2017. With only eight songs, ‘Relaxer‘ is the band’s shortest album yet. In this record, the band is ready to take a few risks. As the band continues to search for its own identity, it results in Alt-J‘s interpretation of Radiohead and Depeche Mode; exploring and dipping toes into new styles.
17. LCD Soundsystem – ‘American Dream‘
‘American Dream‘ is LCD Soundsystem‘s sublime career-defining fourth album; it was released September 1, 2017. It is an extraordinary album obsessed with endings: of friendships, of love, of heroes, and of the American dream itself. The album is heavily influenced and includes references to Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Suicide’s Alan Vega, and David Bowie, all of whom passed in the years since LCD’s last record.
16. Ed Sheeran – ‘÷ (Divide)’
‘÷ (Divide)‘ is the third studio album by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, it was released on 3 March 2017. Ed Sheeran sells innocence and uncoolness – key part of his brand- he’s the nice guy that sings about love. Sheeran dominates the pop charts singing about pure sentimentality as he was one of the few artists that didn’t alienate his fans with records about political convictions.
15. Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now‘
‘Everything Now‘ is Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire‘s fifth album, released July 28th, 2017. The album is one of the band’s most upbeat and easily digestable records to date. It sees Arcade Fire mixing ’70s and ’80s disco and funk with their trademark art-rock sounds, while they address the current state of the world.
14. Foo Fighters – ‘Concrete and Gold‘
‘Concrete and Gold‘ is the ninth studio album by American rock band Foo Fighters. It was produced by Greg Kurstin and released worldwide on September 15, 2017. Dave Grohl certainly knows how to keep things interesting, he described the album main theme as “hope and desperation”; Concrete and Gold concerns the future of the United States from the viewpoint of the band’s frontman, with the 2016 elections and the presidency of Donald Trump cited as major influences.
13. Kendrick Lamar – ‘DAMN.‘
‘DAMN.’ is the fourth studio album by American rapper Kendrick Lamar. It was released on April 14, 2017, and it’s no wonder why it debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, and received widespread critical acclaim. ‘Damn‘ skillfully combines old school hip hop with modern rap. Lamar displays his talents writing and performing, as he continues to evolve his complexity and versatility as an artist. With guest appearances from Rihanna and U2, ‘Damn‘, earned Kendrick Lamar eight Grammy® nominations, including Best Rap Album and Album of the Year.
12. Queens Of The Stone Age – ‘Villains‘
Queens Of The Stone Age are one of the biggest names in contemporary rock. ‘Villains‘ is their seventh studio album, released on August 25, 2017. The album was produced by the mind behind “Uptown Funk“, Mark Ronson. The result is unconventional for QOTSA but also a great one. ‘Villains‘s sound is more uptempo and carefree than their previous release ‘Like Clockwork‘.
11. Jay-Z – ‘4:44‘
‘4:44’ is the thirteenth studio album by American rapper Jay–Z. It was released on June 30, 2017. It features guest appearances from Frank Ocean, Damian Marley, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s mother, Gloria Carter. It also has additional vocal contributions from Blue Ivy Carter, James Fauntleroy, Kim Burrell and The-Dream. It is the rapper’s most personal and emotional album to date, and critics praised it for that. Jay-Z adressed his infidelities, Tidal, and the ongoing hip hop culture – sterotypes and racism. The heart felt apologies earned Jay- Z and his most concise straightforward record eight Grammy® nominations.
10. Liam Gallagher – ‘As You Were‘
‘As You Were’ is the debut studio album by English singer and songwriter Liam Gallagher. It was released on 6 October 2017. It illustrates exactly who Liam is as an artist, his obsession with the 60’s even though the record doesn’t sound retro at all; proving that his influence is as important now as when he was with Oasis, with lead single “Wall of Glass” being the record’s best song. ‘As You Were‘ sold 103,000 units in its first week in the United Kingdom; it’s truly the English rocker at his best.
9. The National – ‘Sleep Well Beast‘
“Sleep Well Beast” is the seventh studio album by The National. The album was released on September 8, 2017. ‘Sleep Well Beast‘ sees the band experimenting more than usual, as a result, the record is full with all kinds of un-National sounds—intentionally sloppy guitar attacks, drum loops, bits of digital crunch, and a rawer, more abandoned performance from frontman Berninger.
8. Morrissey – ‘Low In High School‘
‘Low in High School’ is the eleventh solo studio album by English singer Morrissey, released on 17 November 2017. Morrissey has been adamant about reflecting deeper political ambitions in his records; the theme of youthful melancholy is present in both in the name of the album and its cover art, and the music is often engaging and exciting.
7. Sam Smith – ‘The Thrill Of It All‘
English singer and songwriter Sam Smith‘s second studio album, ‘The Thrill Of It All‘ was released November 3rd 2017. This record lacks the electronic/club beats that were once his signature, instead he channels Otis Redding and Ray Charles, Amy Winehouse and Adele, offering a more soulful sound . The album’s lead single “Too Good At Goodbyes” the UK Singles Chart and made the top five on the US Billboard Hot 100. Of the album he said: “I wasn’t trying to make a big pop record when I made this album. I was actually just trying to make something personal and like a diary.”
6. Taylor Swift – ‘Reputation‘
After much speculation, Taylor Swift released her sixth studio album, ‘Reputation‘, on November 10, 2017. She generated a new narrative, by building up ‘1989’s synth pop, and shifting into electronic pop. The old Taylor is dead and now she is showing a darker deeper side of her offering her boldest album yet.
5. Spoon – ‘Hot Thoughts‘
‘Hot Thoughts‘ is the ninth studio album by American rock band Spoon. It was released on March 17, 2017. ‘Hot Thoughts‘, picks up the soulful thread from 2014’s ‘They Want My Soul‘ and takes it in a funkier and freer direction, keeping their reliably great songwriting and adding new, electronic textures.
4. Gorillaz – ‘Humanz‘
Gorillaz first album since 2010’s The Fall, features collaborations from several artists including Grace Jones, Kali Uchis, Vince Staples, Popcaan, D.R.A.M., Anthony Hamilton, De La Soul, Danny Brown, Kelela, Mavis Staples, Pusha T, and Benjamin Clementine. The album deals with the theme of the emotional aftermath of an unexpected world-changing event. Albarn said that with ‘Humanz‘ he set out to create something not overtly political, but “an emotional response to politics“.
3. U2 – ‘Songs Of Experience‘
‘Songs of Experience‘ is the upcoming fourteenth studio album by Irish rock band U2. It was produced by Jacknife Lee and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder and it will be released on 1 December 2017. The album is intended to be a companion piece to U2’s previous record, ‘Songs of Innocence‘ (2014). Whereas its predecessor explored the group members’ adolescence in Ireland in the 1970s, ‘Songs of Experience’ is, thematically, a collection of letters written by lead vocalist Bono to people and places closest to his heart.
2. Lorde – ‘Melodrama‘
‘Melodrama‘ is the second studio album by New Zealand singer Lorde, released on 16 June 2017 through Republic Records. It finds Lorde exploring a wider emotional palette. Inspired by a break up, ‘Melodrama‘ is Lorde’s study of being a young woman finding her own conviction in unsteady circumstances. Lorde wrote and produced the album alongside Jack Antonoff, and it has been described as a concept album that makes feel pop as intimate as it is huge.
1. The XX – ‘I See You‘
The XX‘s third album (their first release in over four years) found the trio mixing their trademark sound with dance and RNB too. Jamie xx‘s solo album ‘In Colour’ heavily influenced ‘I See You‘; elements like the garage rhythms and jubilant instrumental breaks are reflected in the sound of it. The xx has stated that the record has a more distinctive sound and a more positive, open and expansive concept than the previous two albums. The lead single, “On Hold“, was released on 12 November 2016. This time around we have uptempo beats and club ready choruses, but we never lose the vulnerability or melancholy that the fans apreciate about the band.