2017 Best of | Best songs | Best albums | Irish albums | Irish songs | Club tracks | Guest selections


20.

The other side to David Kitt finally emerges in full-length form. After some electronic releases on European labels Hivern and Permanent Vacation, he brings it all back home. Not only does From Night To Night come out on Dublin’s All City label but the 11 songs featured here were created very much at home in Dublin. Specifically, Kitt’s bedroom, overlooking Dublin Bay in the small hours of the morning.

These analogue night-time constructions have a graceful intimacy to them. The title track could have started on an acoustic and reworked as a rolling synth house number; ‘Put The Love In It’ is loose electronic pop happy to bop along, ‘Found The One’ and ‘Sp2’ represent the dance-workout side while ‘Anya’s Piano’ and the DJ Shadow-referencing ‘After Midnight In A Perfect World’ are both muted headphone electronic that could work at a loud volume.


19.

Any new music from Dan Snaith is always welcome around here and a new Daphni album largely culled from his Fabriclive mix also serves that notion. Why? Because you get some grade A dancefloor bangers in their unedited form. So we get songs we have heard like ‘Face To Face’, ‘Hey Drum’, ‘Tin’, ‘Medellen’ and ‘Vikram’ (first heard in 2015) among others but given their own chance to shine away from a mix format.


18.

Taking her cues from her label boss Daniel Avery in one hand, the UK producer Kelly-Lee Owens’ album’s sound is dominant with pulsing synths and techno percussion on songs like ‘Evolution’, ‘CBM’ (colour, beauty and motion as a schematic feels apt) and ‘Arthur’. On the other hand, there’s a deep ethereality in her songs a her repeating vocal lines work like mantras across the tracks including ‘Arthur’ and the slow synth-pop of ‘Keep Walking’. Elsewhere it’s the methodical chug of John Talabot that is conjured on ‘Lucid’ and ‘Bird’ and Jenny Hval guests on ‘Anxi’.


17.

LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy got the band back together after seven years and sounded more jaded than ever. If there’s a short-hand for how American Dream is different to the three albums that go before it, it’s that the weariness has overtaken the witticisms. This isn’t a record for you and all your friends to dance around to. But it’s also not a complete American Drag. Murphy’s world fatigue informs the writing while musically, there are different shades of LCD at play. There’s not as many high-tempo sonic sarks as before but the worst thing in reality would be for American Dream to feel like a beats on repeat on retread. Tracks like ‘Other Voices’ and ‘Change Yr Mind’ are part of the LCD formula and are welcome here because of it but there are enough new textures present for the album to stand on its own. American Dream is proof that there is surprising late-era life in Murphy’s middle-aged ramblings and maybe, he should stop worrying so much.


16.

The long-awaited debut album from the English singer and musician. Sampha has suffered with anxiety in recent years, his mother passed away of cancer in September 2015 after a few years of fighting the disease and Process manifests those experiences on the paranoid ‘Blood On Me’ and the piano ballad to the instrument and his mother ‘No-One Knows Me (Like The Piano)’. Sampha worries about family, his health, his mortality and explores his grief. There are moments of SBTRKT-style sonics so it’s if you were expect an album of all piano ballads, this isn’t it. Sampha’s soft voice is the kind that warms the soul and the main reason why Process is such a pleasure despite any heaviness under the surface.


Tower Records

15.

A dense and near schizophrenic album upon first listens, Annie Clark’s Jack Antonoff-produced fifth album has a hyper-real pop coat that barely contains searing guitar lines, electronic percussion and high-tempo busy rhythms. The album is at its best when it takes a breath and doesn’t crowd the songs with overactive sonics on songs like ‘Los Ageless’, ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’ , ‘Pills’, ‘New York’ and ‘Savior’. Masseduction is another step forward into Annie Clark’s own art-pop realm.


14.

LA singer Kelela took her time in constructing her debut album because she didn’t want to repeat the club-mix sounds of her EPs and mixtape. So her debut full-length is not as immediate for listeners but there’s much more to explore in these deftly-constructed modern R&B tracks. Kelela’s sultry honey voice and preoccupations around relationships, both sexual and sensual, are the big draw here while producers like Jam City, Arca, Al Shux, Kingdom and Bok Bok set out a celestial electronic backdrop that points the way forward for the future of the genre.


13.

Haim’s debut album exceeded expectations for a new act. The Haim Sisters’ mix Fleetwood Mac-style soft rock, ’60s girl-group sways, early 90s pop/rock and pristine pop. Their second album isn’t a radical departure but nor should it be. Haim are so good at recalling vintage pop music while creating music of the now in a glossy but human fashion. As singles ‘Little Of Your Love’, ‘Want You Back’ and ‘Right Now’ have already revealed, Something to Tell You revels in heartbreak. But those aren’t the only highlights – ‘Ready For You’ plucks up an ’90s rhythm in the style of George Michael, the title song’s bass and drum combo keep things rolling in the Peach Pit, ‘You Never Knew’ might well be a Fleetwood Mac song (produced by Dev Hynes) and ‘Walking away’ has ’90s R&B tones. Haim should be too sickly sweet but their pop conjuring act is too good to dismiss.


12.

Rappers have tried to embrace dance music textures and electronic rhythms before but Big Fish Theory, nails it. Sophie, Flume, Jimmy Edgar, GTA and even Justin Vernon provide some production while Damon Albarn, Kendrick and Kilo Kish add vocal touches. The overarching takeaway here is that Staples rides some electrifying beats and tempos with authority and ease, that doesn’t feel forced.

A standout track – ‘Yeah Right’, which brings Sophie’s clattering fizzling metallic production with Kendrick Lamar and a chorus shouting the title and some distorted bass encapsulates how different this album is and how much of a sonic weapon Staples has deployed.


11.

Moving away from post-dubstep sound that they made their name with, Mount Kimbie’s third album delves into electronic 80s-inspired post-punk territory, with guests Micachu, King Krule and James Blake adding new shades to an album that sounds inspired by Broadcast and krautrock. There are depths in these layered songs to revel in.


Tower Records