All I need to say is that you probably haven’t even heard of Pr0files, and yet here they created one of the year’s greatest pop records. Take one part Drive-inspired 80s noir and combine with power-pop vocal hooks dealing with broken hearts. Sure, the formula may be obvious, but being this great whilst executing it is spectacular.
19. Chandelier - Sia
Sure, the video has since become a meme that has overshadowed the actual song, and the album never quite managed to hit the same peaks. Yet one thing is clear: Chandelier proved Sia can deliver outstanding pop. Nothing else I heard this year felt so inherently ingrained in 2014 - it will age, sure, but if in years to come you ever want to remember what 2014 felt like then you can’t get much closer than Maddie Ziegler weird teeth brushing dance-routine paired with Sia’s brand of hyper-emotion.
18. Cigarettes & Loneliness - Chet Faker
Build On Glass was one of my favourite, durable listens of the year. Cigarettes & Loneliness is the most grown-up and self-reflective moment on that record, a song that curls itself up inside your foggy mind like the brutally crystal clear realisations of your failure that only truly hit with that unique combination of a hangover and personal shame at 9:15am on a Thursday morning. There really isn’t enough eight-minute beardy folk R&B in the world, and Nicholas James Murphy’s repeated refrain of "Breathe, this is love without love without love without love without love without love” reminds us that we aren’t alone in our imperfection.
17. No Angel - Beyoncé
Beyoncé’s self-titled album dropped out of the blue close enough to Christmas last year that a balanced view was difficult… When the past two years have been dominated by alternative R&B and young up and comers, Beyoncé showed she still knows how to blow them all away… Yet it’s best moment was defined by her willingness to hand over the reigns to the increasingly eccentric production efforts of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek. The result is No Angel - both breathless and effortless.
16. If You Went Away - Daniel Wilson
Daniel Wilson’s Boy Who Cried Thunder has a handful of wonderful moments but none is as instantly heart-stopping as the dramatic If You Went Away. This is the kind of track that manages to be so in love that it is almost creepily intense, but the production is so sincere it is impossible not to empathise with Wilson’s pain.
15. Goshen ’97 - Strand of Oaks
Strand of Oaks’ Heal starts with a rambunctious bar band rock song of the like it never returns to… Perhaps because it nails the delivery to such a degree there is just no point. Where the rest of Heal uses electronics and increasingly complex production techniques, Goshen ’97 plays it straight, making it’s tail of growing up and growing old all the more poignant.
14. Ivory - Movement
Ivory is the moment where Movement went from being a diversion to one of 2014’s most exciting bands. In comparison to their earlier work Ivory felt darker and sexier, JUST THAT GUITAR.
13. Violence - Andy Stott
It seems like every time we hear from Andy Stott he gets more interesting. Violence was no different - incredibly dense and dark, it recalled Tricky at his most paranoid and is almost guaranteed to stop you in your tracks on your first listen. Play it LOUD.
12. Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone - Lykke Li
Lykke Li’s third album was packed full of emotion, but Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone represents her at her most exposed. It’s hard to listen and not want to do something to reassure, but that is the magic - Li manages to expose so much human emotion.
11. Is This How You Feel? - The Preatures
Technically Is This How You Feel? is a cheat - it came out in 2013… But I only discovered it this year, and it actually remains unreleased in Europe despite significant success in Australia. Is This How You Feel? is timeless, the kind of record that could have been released at any point in the past 35-years, and if you wished Haim would rock just a little bit harder then this is for you. And the video manages to be incredible without even really doing much - it turns out it is impossible to take your eyes off of Isabella Manfredi.