Everyone LOVES an end of year music countdown – so here are the 15 album’s we’ve been LOVING and listening to most this year. Today, we continue with numbers 6-10…
6. P!nk – ‘The Truth About Love’
P!nk’s fifth studio album shines with truth and beauty BUT, you must preserve across repeated listens to absorb its full impact and brilliance. The album features new collaborators in the form of Greg Kurstin and Dan Wilson, a welcome reunion with Max Marin, Butch Walker and Billy Mann and unusually featured guest artists such as Lily Allen and Eminem. The album opens with the rousing and anthemic ‘Are We All We Are’ and from there the album is a rollercoaster ride. P!nk showcases the playfully brash and witty side of her personality with tracks such as ‘Slut Like You’ and ‘Walk Of Shame’ but as usual excels across the thoughtful, heartfelt and reflective lyrical content and production found within the likes of ‘Try’, ‘Beam Me Up’ and ‘The Great Escape’. P!nk’s tremendous likeability, versatility, range and dexterity as an artist soars and dazzles – she covers all aspects in the exploration of the many shades and forms of love and delivers an album that is a exciting as well as rewarding, emotional and compelling.
Highlights - Try, True Love, The Great Escape, Is This Thing On, Timebomb
7. Leona Lewis – ‘Glassheart’
This much-delayed third offering from Leona is a blinding affair. It features a hugely impressive range of styles from the goosebump inducing powerful ballads and the head-nodding, mid-temp numbers that have become so synonymous with her expected style. Throughout, Leona showcases her personality against a backdrop of luscious strings and arresting arrangements. However, Leona excels and flourishes most when she is given the chance to explore different sides to her sound – most notably the inclusion of a more up-tempo yet darker and tormented sound. The 80’s inspired sound captured on the Rodney Jerkins production of ‘Shake You Off’ is a genuine delight as is the sensuous and playful ‘Favourite Scar’. The title track fizzes with frantic and frenzied beats. Other surprising highlights showcase elements of grime, dubstep and house, which when combined with Leona’s phenomenal vocal and use of her lower register creates a moody and atmospheric landscape. Overall, the album is rich and varied without straying too far from her signature sound – ‘Glassheart’ is a cohesive, exciting and refreshing listen.
Highlights - Firefly, Shake You Up, Favourite Scar, Glassheart
8. Loreen – ‘Heal’
Winning Eurovision 2012 with the runaway showstopper ‘Euphoria’ enabled Loreen to build on the style of the track to release a stunning album that chronicles the heartbreak, despair and longing often felt in a tricky relationship whilst managing to maintain an optimistic outlook for a satisfying resolution. The juxtaposition of the dance inspired sound tinged with the deep rooted sadness of the subject matter made this a revelatory listen – it’s an album to dance to whilst sobbing uncontrollably with abandon. ‘Heal’ is a confident, mature big giant triumph… it has an atmospheric, haunting sound whilst the vocals are majestic and resplendent. It is also, wonderfully stylised – as it is sequenced in a way to keep it flowing in the manner of a continuous non-stop mix. An intriguing, powerful and bewitching listen.
Highlights - My Heart Is Refusing Me, Everytime, Crying Out Your Name, If She's The One
9. No Doubt – ‘Push And Shove’
Push and Shove came eleven years after the incredible ‘Rock Steady’. The bands latest work is fun, uplifting and equally elaborate in terms of style and direction as their previous work – there is a blend of genres mashed together in that special No Doubt way – it weaves 80’s sounds, electro-reggae and dancehall with their distinctive ska roots and even incorporates elements of dubstep. Gwen’s sugary vocal makes the album irresistible throughout. There are big sing-a-long choruses, bold sounds and instantly immediate hooks and melodies. The album is vibrant and full of energy – the title track; collaboration with Major Lazer is a prime example. There is an understated depth and allure to the quieter more pensive numbers on the album too, ‘Dreaming The Same Dream’ is heavenly. The bonus disc of the deluxe version is a veritable treat and great addition as it offers alternate versions and remixes – ultimately it showcases the strength within the songs themselves.
Highlights - Settle Down, Looking Hot, Push And Shove, One More Summer
10. Nelly Furtado – ‘The Spirit Indestructible’
The fourth English language studio from Nelly Furtado was a long time coming – some six years had passed since the phenomenal ‘Loose’ (a Spanish album and a best of collection thankfully filled the gap). ‘The Spirit Indestructible’ showcases Nelly’s ability to successfully switch and blend diverging styles, as well as her knack to create big pop moments through varied and vast sonic landscapes. These are underpinned with a broad range of lyrical diversity ranging from self awareness, reflection and empowerment, most noticeable on the anthemic title track and ‘Bucket List’. On working with producers Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins and Salaam Rami, Nelly manages to craft a collection of songs that sound current yet timeless. A fantastic album; which is distinctive, fun and uplifting throughout.
Highlights - Spirit Indestrucible, Miracles, Circles, End Game