Following on from my list of the of 2014 best songs, which starts with Part One here, here is the first of two parts covering the best albums of the year. It has to be said, 2014 felt like a better year for songs than for albums - lots of interesting emerging artists released EPs, but there were less breakthrough albums that really lived up to the hype. In comparison to an individual track or an EP, creating a compelling album is incredibly hard. In my view, these were the best.
You can check out the concluding part, which includes my album of the year, here.
10. Liminal - The Acid
The debut album from Adam Freeland's new band was something of a surprise... Down-tempo, soulful and full of angst. There are hints of inspiration - take the vulnerable mumbling of Thom Yorke, the sub-bass from Burial - but the whole thing feels distinct. An organic, distinctly human snapshot that seemingly came out of nowhere.
9. I Never Learn - Lykke Li
Lykke Li's boldest album yet, I Never Learn turned up on your doorstep with tears in its eyes and hair that has been dragged through a hedge backwards. Such intensely personal music would be difficult to listen to if it wasn't for such compelling song-writing. Even when it is belting out power ballads, as on Never Gonna Love Again, I Never Learn was always uniquely Lykke Li's.
8. You’re Dead! - Flying Lotus
It almost always feels too easy for Flying Lotus these days, his experiments boldly carving out new approaches to sound like they were always the most obvious thing in the world. You're Dead! is FlyLo's most overtly jazz influenced album yet, and it is impossible to shake the sense that if some of the experimental jazz pioneers of the 50s and 60s were warped to today, this might be exactly what they would sound like... And that's a massive achievement.
7. LP1 - FKA Twigs
2014 was FKA Twig's year more than any other musicians. The most impressive thing about LP1 is that prior to 2014 very few had even heard of her - by now she is undoubtedly one of the most revered stars in R&B. LP1 has moments of confused, electrified brilliance, but I can't help but feel like the best is yet to come.
6. Reality Testing - Lone
Full of moments of experimental brilliance, Lone made one of the most interesting albums of beats I've heard in years. Reality Testing combined every genre Lone could get his hands on, but rather than the candy cane explosion of someone like Rustie this felt like a pleasant trip through the mind of a friend with an enormous record collection.