(So nice of Lorde to let us reference one of her songs…)
This it it. the mathematically proven greatest record of 2017. And The Maths is in no doubt.
Perhaps you could argue that The Maths was so desperate to name an album that isn’t Lorde or Kendrick Lamar– a desperation foreshadowed by The Maths naming the Fever Ray’s album best record of 2017 before The Maths had even heard it (and then always being ever so slightly disappointed every time The Maths heard it because of this decision)- and actually conclude that ‘No Shape’ is actually just the greatest album of 2017 that isn’t Lorde or Kendrick Lamar.
The Maths appreciates that viewpoint, and The Maths is aware of how The Maths previously mocked Crack Magazine for naming Arca as 2017’s best album as obvious edgelord attention seeking. The Maths would understand if you accused The Maths of a similar exhibitionism if you were to listen to the Arca album– very good if overwhelmingly intense and rarely enjoyable ‘in the traditional sense’- and the knock-down genius of Perfume Genius’s latest– the most perfect combination of pop songcraft and overwhelming beauty you’ll have likely heard recently- and tell me they are both equally understandably considered the greatest record of any year.
You can’t. ‘No Shape’ made you cry, didn’t it? Both out of joy and out of sadness, whoch then became an overwhelming joy of sadness) Ot made throw your arms in the air joyously (like you just don’t care, buoyantly); ring up old lovers and tell them that you forgive them; ring up old friends and tell them that you hate them because you all of a sudden you understand how awesome you are and you deserve far better than them; it made you love the ones you love that little more, and made you hate those you hate more considerately. Listening to ‘No Shape’ has made you a better person, hasn’t it? Even though, let’s be honest, that’s not saying much considering what trash you were beforehand.
You didn’t even make it to the end of the Arca album, did you? Because you’re a pussy. However, I’m of the opinion that records shouldn’t exist only as tests of the listener’s similarity to a vagina and/or feline house pet. You will love ‘No Shape’ even if you’re a fucking wimp, because it is a near unbelievably gorgeous collection of songs that anybody can and will love, not an endurance test.
As for The Maths desperate to select an album that wasn’t Lorde or Kendrick Lamar: The Maths believes it outlined The Maths’ reasoning behind listing it as ‘low’ as number 3 in its review, basically 1000 words on how The Maths thinks the The Maths’ number 3 album of the year is ever so slightly overrated, with The Maths even going as far to suggest it may have listed it too high.
Lorde, however, is a slightly more difficult sell: The Maths was actually planning to name it as the album of the year for the longest time (which had knock on effects you will see when the Legit Boss best tracks list comes out), regardless of how obvious a choice it was. The thing about the Lorde album- and the simple fact that The Maths listed it an embarrassingly low second to this even more pronounced masterpiece should not take anything away from how both The Maths and I adore the album- is that its first track is mindblowingly amazing. Then the second track is mindbogglingly amazing. And the third track is back to being mindblowingly amazing. After that, the last song is the greatest last song on a record since All Night by Beyoncé, and blows everyone’s tiny minds down up through the roof(s).
(I honestly made that comparison before I saw the video and how it references ‘Lemonade‘: it seems that Lorde and I had the exact same thought)
The thing that you might have already assumed- with Holmesian powers of deduction I must say- that those are tracks one, two, three and eleven on the album. The middle of the album, while never sagging below ‘extremely fucking brilliant’, has always seemed to The Maths and I to pale ever so slightly in comparison to how amazingly the record opens and closes, lending it an ever so disjointed and inconsistent feel. This could just because the album starts and ends so spectacularly, but it’s definitely there.
Jesus, are there any other albums you just want me to explain exactly why they’re ever so slightly worse than ‘No Shape’?? ‘Little Fictions’ was a disappointing mini-shjark jumping by Elbow, failing to build on the shock factor of last album highlight Charge as I’d hoped; Miley Cyrus’s latest is her disappointingly returning to the well of radio friendly country rock boredom, which I can only hope will lead to an even more ridiculous side project than ‘Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz‘ in response; Liam Gallagher’s solo album was pretty rubbish despite all the good will in the world, with lyrics that just seemed to be explicitly referencing every Beatles song off all of the records Liam owns (he only owns ‘1s’ and ‘The Blue Album’, but he’s been really meaning to listen to ‘The Red Album’ on Spotify); the Harry Styles album was probably good enough to be the record Liam should have made, but still pretty rubbish (with one exception).
‘No Shape’, though, is perfect: every single track is outstanding, and while it may not have any single song as good as Green Light or GOD by Kendrick Lamar, the consistency is amazing and the overall quality leaves those two records in the dust.
This was the thing that finally pushed it over the finish line.
In the first few weeks or months that I listened to ‘No Shape’, I very quickly fell in love with it but hated how it was produced. I thought the way it crackled and distorted whenever all the lush orchestration kicked in was doing the album a disservice, and without all that interference it would probably be the year’s best album.
Then I had the brainwave: what if all that distortion wasn’t the fault of the album itself, but the way I was listening to it? What if I tried to listen to the album in a format other than MP3?
I downloaded the album again in FLAC and
FLAC will be the format I choose to listen to every album that makes it to the 2018 list. I have loved many albums over the 11 years (!!) I’ve been collating these lists, but none before has actively encouraged me to change the way I consume music!!
For that reason alone, it’d deserve to win, the fact that, as you will see, it is mathematically the best album of 2017 is just butter on the bacon
Hat’s off, Perfume Genius
Age: 36 (+8)
Album Number: 4 (+48)
Album Length: 43 minutes (+12)
Very Good Songs: 0
Brilliant Songs That Are Actually Better Than Just ‘Brilliant’: 10 (+300)
AMAZING Songs (Though My Favourites Change All the Time): 3 (+90)
% of Album Worthwhile: 100
I do love those trouser…
Previous Entries: None
Meta Critic: 84
9 thoughts on “1 Perfume Genius: No Shape”