4 Jan 2016

10 Records of 2015: Listening Through 2015

I haven’t attempted an end-of-year list like this since 2012. This may be because that was the last year in which there were at least 10 new records that had a significant effect on me. It probably helps that I listened to more albums this year, so the odds of finding ones I liked were higher. I think there have also been a few other factors determining my susceptibility to new music though, which are detachable from the sounds themselves. For example, I’m sure that my recent move to a small town in southeast Germany, living with my boyfriend for the first time, and all the other changes in circumstance that have accompanied this, have made me more open to new music (a new scene deserving of a new soundtrack), as well as leaving me with more money to buy it and more time to listen to it.

However, at the same time, my listening this year has been overwhelmingly determined by my research interests. As should be abundantly clear from the last few posts on this blog, I’ve spent much of the year working through ideas about the pop song and the place of the voice within it. Naturally, much of the new music that has really engaged me this year has provoked further questions or ideas in relation to these themes.

As a result of this, I’m not going to attempt a ranked Top 10 this year; instead, I will trace a few ideas through these albums, talking about each as it fits in with my train of thought. The resulting list — as much about me as a listener as ‘the music itself’ — is meant to be an articulation of my musical year, giving up on any pretence of general expertise or objective judgement. As an unconventional strategy, this is meant to reflect another key theme of my musical year, which is an increasing exasperation with online music journalism/criticism (especially album reviews (and especially Pitchfork)), and indeed pop music discourse in general. Inevitably, some of my particular 2015 bugbears will make cameo appearances as I address particular albums, but rather than introducing undue negativity to this list, my intention is really just to express how certain tiresome critical obsessions can stop us from talking about how exceptional the music really is.

So, without further ado…

...my 10 favourite records of 2015, unranked:::