Sometimes I envy NME. And The Guardian. And Pitchfork. And Melody Maker. And Q Magazine. And the Manchester Evening News. And Rolling Stones. I envy The Roling Stone’s money, but I don’t envy being them, as that would mean losing 50 years of my life and a complete morality lobotomy. And Crack Magazine.
How many others are there…?
And Kerrang. And the Telegraph And NME. I said that one, didn’t I? I envy it twice. And Mojo. And Uncut. And Mixmag.
I envy all these vessels of music journalism- to different degrees and holding it to varying degrees of importance- because, I don’t know if you ever noticed, but they manage to get their albums of the year list out at the actual end of the year!!
How do they do that?? I mean, even if Mojo is in a terrible place mentally, and is considering if it’s really worthwhile writing anything anymore, it still manages to garner up the motivation to try and and convince us that David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ was the best album of 2016 (nonsense, I have the science to prove it was actually 27th) on December 11th!! I didn’t even get around to explaining the truth until October 30th 2017!!
It doesn’t even matter whether NME was overcome with a particularly debilitating wave of depression in the latter periods of 2016- down to their decision to stop taking their antidepressant medication after becoming convinced they’d cured their depression with psychedelic drugs- it was more important to them to jump the gun and gobble the clicks. This lead to them jumping the gun ridiculously and naming 1975’s pishfest (actually 109th best album of 2016, as I pointed out eleven months later) on November the freakin’ twenty seventh!!
I don’t know how he or she does it, but as far back as I can remember NME’s albums of the year- or Q’s, or Rolling Stone’s, or Mixmag’s- are always out before the end of the year!
I try to get my list out in December every year, honest, and you can expect NE2018 to appear at a relevant time this year, but life doesn’t work that way, does it? Life is what happens to stop you doing what you want. Unless you’re an abusive hypocrite who owns an entire New York apartment to keep your fur coats in. You’ve got plenty of time, mister.
Some time in June or July, last year, I decided I was in a good enough place mentally to start listing my favourite albums of 2016. I finally started publishing them in September 2017. You’ve read them all, they’re fucking brilliant aren’t they?
In October I was faced with a problem: the year I was in was actually 2017, no matter how often I denied it, and I’d already missed 10 months of it talking about 2016. I had no idea what music had been released in 2017. I knew about Taylor Swift, I knew about SZA because I’d kept a close eye on her ever since “Let me cover your shit in glitter I can make it gold“, I knew about Kendrick Lamar, I knew about Lorde. I didn’t listen to the radio, I didn’t read physical music magazines because I couldn’t afford them, and I’d given up with most online music magazines because they are such bullshit. I had no idea what was hippity hopping with the kids down in hoobastank town.
Twitter!! That’s how people know what’s going on these days, isn’t it??
I literally went back through every Necessary Evil list I could find, and followed each and every artist that I had ever deemed worthy of inclusion on the list.
One of the my biggest regrets over the time I lost contact with music because I was in love with teaching, cheap Chinese alcohol, and a beautiful girl in 2011 and 2012 is that I must have missed the sophomore effort from Fever Ray, whose 2009 debut I’d fallen in love with. I was still reeling from the shock that the lazy cow hadn’t actually bothered to release a follow up, with only the utterly (and magnificently) baffling 2013 Knife album being released in the interim. Then, suddenly, in my ‘Twitter line’ (that’s what they call it, right…?):
This was actually the second teaser for her forthcoming album, so my timing wasn’t perfectly fortuitous, but it was still only her third Tweet in three years, and I was walking into a good & proper hype machine.
I followed Ms Ray obsessively on Twitter…
I mean, whomever you’re following on Twitter you’re doing so slightly obsessively- you are waiting for live reactions of literally everything they do- but still…
I followed Ms Ray with 2017 levels of obsessions, as more and more snippets of the new record were coyly drip fed to my Twitter wire (Twitire? Twire? Yeah, I like the second one better…). I’d heard about this kind of thing before, but here I was actually follwing it! Being a part of it! I was a Millenial!! And it felt fucking brilliant.
Then, the lead single, To the Moon and Back, was released, and I lost my fucking shit.
If scientists received funding to construct the perfect song to cater to Alex Palmer’s weird perversions and obsessions, they would be absolutely hounded in the press for such a brazen waste of public funds. Amidst the outrage, though, they would make To the Moon and Back.
Firstly it starts with the line “Hey, remember me?/I’ve been busy, working like crazy”. There’s nothing I enjoy more than artists self-referencing themselves (as appose to self-referencing someone else?? Fucking hell, Alex, you don’t half love your obsolete words), which is why my favourite band is the Manic Street Preachers, who pretend to be writing about political history and social justice, but are actually only ever writing about themselves (sound familiar?*).
The way she pronounces “Ker-ray-zee”. I love it when artist’s pronounce things funny.
The music- oh God the music!!- was perfect. It was like Fever Ray had taken all the best parts of her debut, combined them with the utter pop genius that occasionally surfaced with her work with The Knife, and still managed to tone up the craziness. This, my friends, this is musical perfection.
Then, The Line:
“Your lips/So Warm and fuzzy/I want to run my fingers up your pussy”
I decided straight away, before hearing even a second track, that fever Ray’s forthcoming album would be Necessary Evil best album of 2017. I considered how admirably left field it would seem to choose an album that wasn’t Lorde or Kendrick Lamar, who by that point in the year were already obvious as the only two acceptable choices.
It’s because of how I built it up in my head that ‘Plunge’- mathematically the 6th best album of the year- has always been ever so slightly disappointing to me.
I have listened to it 6’875 times. I absolutely adore every track. It’s a work of inarguable genius. While SZA’s album may be the best album about being a young woman in (kayfabe) 2017, ‘Plunge’ might be the greatest album about sex in the 21st century- at least how it should be- that I’ve ever heard. ‘Plunge’ is such an amazing celebration of omnisexuality that I have refused to look up what sexual persuasion Fever Ray is labelled as: ‘Plunge’ is all about how sexuality in (kayfabe) 2017 is all about taking the Kinsey Scale and rubbing in on your genitals or licking its x axis or sticking its varying responses up your bum or doing whatever makes you feel sexually fulfilled! Fever Ray’s not a hetero, she’s not a lesser, she is something we will never understand. ‘Plunge’ is an album to reaffirm that whatever you like doing is normal and we should be proud of our weirdness.
And it’s never as good as I want it to be.
You might have noticed that it’s not the best album of 2017. It’s ‘only’ number 6, which I have always slightly resented it for. ‘Plunge’ is the Wayne Rooney of albums: I am obsessed with critiquing it for not being the gamechanging brilliance that I once imagined it could be, rather than celebrating the legitimate brilliance that it actually is.
It’s a nasty human habit: we create images of people and decide what they are and what they could be, without any input from them at all, then are outraged when they fail to live up to these standards.
The Nobel Peace Prize, for example, is a fucking joke. Let’s concentrate on its presentation to four people: Mother Teresa, Aung Sun Su Ki, Al Gore and Barack Obama.
Mother Theresa was awarded it after a shameless hagiography of her work masquerading as a documentary first highlighted the work she was doing caring for India’s poor. People were later shocked when it turned out she was doing nothing more than running large hospices, funneling almost all of her charity’s donations to the catholic church, preaching the Godliness of poverty and suffering, and actually exerting most of her efforts in later years into stopping people having abortions. People called her a hypocrite, but she had always done this- she was a fucking devout Catholic, people!!- and yet we decided she was letting us down by not living up to the labels we had put on her.
(She said that in her Nobel Peace prize acceptance fucking speech!! That’s actually pretty gangsta… **)
We decided that Aung San Suu Kyi was a courageous freedom fighter- we so dearly wanted another Mandela- when she never said she was anything of the sort: she was just a politician in exile who really wanted to be in power again. There has been apartheid in Myanmar against the Rohingya people since the early 1980s, we just didn’t give a shit back then and neither did ASSK. Why would she suddenly decide to give a shit when she rose to power? She’s no hypocrite- a horrible, horrible person, perhaps- she’s always considered the Rohingya people lower class citizens, we decided she wanted freedom for everyone.
Well, Al Gore doesn’t really belong in this category, because he got the award for being ‘Al Gore’- very much the ‘James Milner’ of politics- and has continued being ‘Al Gore’ to this day. But his movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ may end up being one of the most damaging films ever made. It was amazing for raising awareness of exactly how the humans are going to destroy the Earth, but his insistence on hosting the thing himself politicised a scientific issue, making the fact of climate change a ‘left’ issue rather than an ‘issue’ issue. If it was presented by someone the public at large on both sides of the political spectrum- such as Steven Hawkins, Bobby Robson, Neil DeGrasse Tyson or Flava Flav- then ‘believing’ in it wouldn’t be a political issue, and we might actually beat it. You’ve actually doomed the entire world, Al, nice going.
And Obama? Obama?! He got the award for doing nothing, then did stuff. Fucking hypocrite.
Jesus, this entry went a bit off-pissed, didn’t it?
Age: 42 (+32)
Album Number: 2 (+24)
Album Length: 46 minutes
Very Good Songs: 0
Brilliant Songs: 9 (+180)
AMAZING Songs: 2 (+80)
% of Album Worthwhile: 100
Now, as you’ll know from my Jane Weaver entry, I do love words being ‘hidden’ on an album title. However, ‘fever Ray’ is far too easy to see, And ‘Plunge’… does it say ‘Plunge’… Let me know
Previous Entries: 2009 No.3 (Fever Ray), 2013 No.?? (The Knife)
Yeah, The Knife were literally number ‘??’ in 2013
Meta Critic: 87
*Me. They’re like me. I am like the Manic Street Preachers
**Or, I think she did. There’s really no time to fact check: I’ve still got another entry to write today!!