This title is misleading because it makes it seem like all the albums that I’m going to talk about came out in 2017 (they didn’t) and/or that I actually bought all of them in 2017 (I didn’t, probably). These are albums, however, that I listened to a lot, and plenty of them I did buy or obtain as review/store play copies this year. A lot of people do end of the year lists like this, and I’m hopping on the bandwagon. Defining albums of my 2017 after the cut.
The Wombats, Glitterbug (2015)
Favorite track: “Headspace”
“‘Cause now I I feel, feel, feel like a disco ball / from the 1970’s all dusty and worn / and it hurts, I reflect the light, but it hurts.”
I’m someone who wishes she liked dance music, but doesn’t, and really enjoys music that feels like dance music, but technically isn’t. Glitterbug is a super effective album and there’s only one track on it that I would find myself skipping over on repeated play-throughs.
Beastie Boys, License to Ill (1986)
Favorite track: “Brass Monkey”
“Put your left leg down your right leg up / Tilt your head back let’s finish the cup”
Obviously this album is not from 2017. I actually don’t even get to hear the Beastie Boys on the radio that much anymore because KLOVE bought WBRU’s broadcasting signal, and WBRU was the only station that consistently played the Beastie Boys on an hourly basis. But it’s been a really difficult semester/season/year, and I did finally buy my own copy. And the thing about the Beastie Boys, for all the problems in how they talk about women and for the general immaturity of the music (they’re not called the Beastie Men), they’re still as close to home for me as it gets, besides like, Rush. Every day is pretty much a party, which is how I picture the friends I see most often during the summer. It’s impossible to be sad when listening to the Beastie Boys.
Phoenix, Ti Amo (2017)
Favorite track: “Lovelife”
“I never thought you’d get me in line / Forget and forgotten young protégé / So let me control, regret that I broke our thing”
The title track on this album, “Ti Amo,” is actually the reason why I bought it. There’s something really charming about hearing something on WERS at 3AM while driving home from Providence and it giving the effect that you’re in an episode of Miami Vice, even if that’s totally anachronistic. Like Glitterbug, it has a very dance-vibe without actually being dance music. It’s both young and old at the same time, and I feel like it would pair with Best Picture contender Call Me By Your Name perhaps better than the actual soundtrack that Sufjan Stevens wrote for it. Not quite electropop, but still electropop. I’m doomed to loving things that critics generally dislike.
Lorde, Melodrama (2017)
Favorite track: “The Louvre”
“But we’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in the Louvre / Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre”
I put off buying this one for a while. “Green Light” was a bop, though, I so I caved. “The Louvre” sticks out; on the one hand there are a lot of cliches, I think, in Lorde’s writing. It comes with the territory of indie-pop-that’s-no-longer-indie, and also age (I’m only 2 years older but it’s not like I don’t drop cliches, too). Sometimes I hope she’s being funny with lines like “our summer nights were perfumed with obsession” because if she’s making a reference to the Calvin Klein scent Obsession, that’s a really clever line (and refers to the same kind of luxury-chasing in her first single), but if she’s not, that makes it not a very good line. That said, “The Louvre” is still my favorite track on the album because of that “but who cares, still the Louvre” thing. That’s so good, and her delivery on the line is perfect.
The Lumineers, Cleopatra (2016)
Favorite track: “Gun Song”
“I can’t believe what I found in daddy’s sock drawer, sock drawer, today / it was a pistol, a Smith & Wesson, holy, holy shit”
I lied–I know I bought this album last year, back when “Cleopatra” was getting played on the radio all the time. I don’t know if it’s actually rare to hear a male singer take on a female character–it happens frequently enough in poetry, but I don’t hear it on the radio all the time, so the commitment to the speaker was a really cool thing that happened on this album. But I got a lot more play out of this album this year starting with “Ophelia” and then, on repeat, “Gun Song.” Maybe it speaks more to my relationship with my own father that I’ve listened to it so much, but there’s something really overwhelming and great about the repetition in here and the way “holy, holy shit” is sung. It hits the right heart punches.