Mango x Mathman
Deep Blue (with Lisa Hannigan and Crash Ensemble)
The lead single of MXM’s Casual Work is an ode to the country we inhabit and the people who make it what it is. Heart thumping electronic production augmented by strings from the Crash Ensemble, some of Mango’s best lyrics and a guest feature from none other than Lisa Hannigan make this a rallying cry for identity. Stand up and be counted.
2019 has been a comeback year for Caribou’s Dan Snaith and ‘Home’ captures everything that made the music world fall in love with Caribou. Soulful and understated, ‘Home’ models extremely gratifying melodies into a subtly catchy package that finely straddles the lines between euphoria and nostalgia.
Bonobo doing what Bonobo does best on the sparkling and shuffling ‘Linked’. Soothing pads develop slowly before a minor explosion into full-on dancefloor euphoria on a track that feels radiant.
Not In Kansas
The National at their most essential. Sweetly beautiful with a lullaby-like charm, ‘Not In Kansas’ contrasts confessional details with religious and political reckonings, resulting in some of The National’s most poetic and impactful lyricism. “I’m leaving home and I’m scared that I won’t / Have the balls to punch a Nazi,” feels particularly relevant in 2019 and the unfurling, aimlessness of ‘Not In Kansas’ is a poignant recalling of life’s moments and their contextual role in the wider world.
High Beams feat. Slowthai
Flume made a triumphant return this year with his excellent Hi This Is Flume mixtape. ‘High Beam’ is a specific treat layering Slowthai’s uncompromising flow over unique, experimental production. Flume’s production is on its best game here, wielding angular glitching and unyielding sub-bass to create a wholly unique and energising sound.
Still I Miss You
A sad banger from the Canadian’s excellent Open Reduction Internal Fixation album.
Mr Snaith once again.. Daphni ordered summer vibes only on his big return this year. A reworking of Paradise’s ‘Sizzlin Hot’, ‘Sizzling’ is a grooving and shuffling disco anthem perfect for clubs, festivals and family barbecues.
A song about not taking drugs like everyone else, ‘xanny’ is awash with production effects that ape the dragged and smushy feelings of intoxication. Whether it’s the distorted low-end or the blossoming of the song into a lush 70s soft-rock flourish, it’s one of many demonstrations of the huge jump that Eilish has made in 2019.
‘Starry Night’ was unavoidable for anyone who left their house this year, with good reason. It’s bouncy, accessible, insanely infectious and is set to be a dancefloor staple for years to come.
So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings
Best song title of the year. ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’ is a supremely poppy cut from the former Chairlift singer’s album Pang.
Le Boom x AE MAK
A snug fit of a collaboration between electronic duo Le Boom and art-pop act AE MAK results in a bop so infectiously catchy that’ll keep kids interested for days.
DOI – Niall manages Le Boom.
Boys in the Better Land
The genius of Dogrel is best described in the centrepiece couplet from lead single ‘Boys In The Better Land’: “Driver’s got names to fill two double-barrels / he spits out “Brits out” only smokes Carrolls.” ‘Boys In The Better Land’ is a perfect distillation of the Fontaines D.C’s appeal.
Late Nite Feelings (feat. Lykke Li)
Lykke Li is one of western pop’s most critically underrated artists. Her ability to deliver hushed up tales of heartbreak and romance is near unparalleled in pop music. Take ‘Late Nite Feelings’ off Mark Ronson’s album of the same name. A journey through love and lust in the midnight hour.
‘Hey, Ma’ represents the most identifiable Bon Iver sound on i,i, a track that would have slotted in neatly on a project like 22, A Million. An emotionally charged messaged for motherhood delivered through Justin Vernon’s signature falsetto.
Rosalia & J Balvin
2019 was a huge year for Rosalia and ‘Con Altura’ was a cross-cultural, cross-scene success. Less showy than other cuts from the singer, ‘Con Altura’ is driven by repetitive beats and a simple but effective hook from one of the most instantly recognisable vocalists in pop music right now.
A highlight from second album The Talkies, ‘Shoulderblades’ wirrs up from dissonant swirling noise with vocalist Dara Kiely belching the take home line “feel like a chicken / act like a cock,” before bursting into a techno-leaning industrial 4/4 rhythm and degrading whiplash production. Always a thrill.
‘Stepdad’ is a bit of a marmite tune. There are some who can’t get past the oddball character-driven music the Australian musician writes. Suspend your disbelief and you’ll be rewarded with a synth-pop jam, complete with one of the most singable choruses of the year.
Tyler, The Creator
Tyler shows his sensitive side on ‘Earfquake’, a colossally successful R&B pop anthem. Sugary-sweet melodies and nostalgic R&B production come together for Tyler’s most accessible material to date.
Lana Del Rey
Norman Fucking Rockwell
“Goddamn, man child / You fucked me so good that I almost said, “I love you”” is the best album-opening lyric of the year and the introduction to one of Lana Del Rey’s greatest songs. A piano-led ballad introducing the central themes of our album of the year, ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ is a masterclass in bitingly witty lyricism and timeless songwriting.
Sim Simma Soundsystem
Man Like Me (feat. Denise Chaila)
Denise Chaila’s contribution to Sim Simma Soundsystem’s Pass The Aux Chord is a dancehall-flavoured message of female empowerment. The energy from this tune could power a small city.