Banoffee’s debut album should act as an important reference point for Halsey. The subjects she covers here- from painful reconciliations to painful intergenerational trauma to, Jesus, why didn’t I just leave it as a one night stand with that prick??- are at least as weighty as those covered on Ms Frangipane’s latest. Banoffee simply covers them often more explicitly, with far more humour and raw openness. And, more importantly, does so with no shame about this being a pop album and with the mature knowledge that really shouldn’t take away from its artistic legitimacy. She’s not openly complaining about Band of Horses not being considered pop despite starting with the same three letters, she’s not arguing that her album being considered ‘pop’ and the Javier Muñoz Spanish language production The Occupant being considered a ‘movie’ is just more evidence of the suffocating patriarchy, she’s not pointing to the barbed wire around her wrist on the album cover as poof of how freaking metal she is. She has no qualms about being a pop artist and is confident in the utter magnificence she can still produce, how being a ‘pop’ artist doesn’t act as a barrier to producing such weird, challenging and effective music such as this.
At least… I think that’s her stance. I actually have no idea. I know so little about Banoffee aside from her formally being a member of Charli XCX‘s band and her releasing such an accomplished debut record. I mean, apart from that arresting album cover, I’m not even sure I’d seen another photo of her until I searched for one to place above. Perhaps she’s gone on record stating how she’s only making pop music as she believes it’s the quickest way to be asked to contribute to the soundtrack of The Secret Life of Pets 3, which she plans to fill with explicit calls to the listener to load up on burlap sacks in order to drown all the puppies and kittens in their local area in the nearest canal. Maybe if I’d bought the deluxe album I would have had more issues with the two extra tracks, Where We Go One We Go All and Arbeit Macht Frei. Maybe Banoffee’s just the worst. There’s a lesson here- the less you know about someone, the more likely you are to like them. ‘Look At Us Now Dad’ is fantastic though, even if I would have personally used a comma in that title.
OK, we are not playing around now. This intense, provocative and motherfreaking breathless album is the first entry on this year’s list that I could very feasibly see myself naming as the best of the year. It has the quality, it has the excitement, it has the bangers. And it only makes it to 49.
‘There Is No Year’ is essential in every sense of the word. There have been caveats on every previous album on this list, but the only such warning that exists for the Georgia band’s third is that I wouldn’t recognise checking the album out if you have a serious medical aversion to things that are ‘fucking brilliant’. This should act as a dividing line- every album from this point onwards is absolutely worth your investment, and if you don’t make roads to examine the next 48 records you must be, I dunno, a fascist or something.
Awww, now I feel bad for Banoffee! You know what? Fuck it, she’s essential as well. It’s all essential! Life is essential! But, yeah, from this point on the albums are actually essential. Isn’t art amazing?? Isn’t life amazing!?!?
No, wrong, it’s way better than that
Well, well, well, look what we have here, another attempt for me to
I’ve only discovered the peculiarly intoxicating talents of Danny Brown (‘intoxicating’ being a phrase Mr Brown would no doubt empathise with). His stunning 2016 album ‘Atrocity Exhibition‘ was honestly one of the greatest and most singularly envisioned rap albums I’d ever heard. It was only the fact that 2016 was possibly the greatest year for high quality music in the 21st century (possibly ever) that it finished as shamefully low as eighth. It was also named after a Joy Division song which, I dunno, might be considered cheating in order to play into my affections.
His 2019 album, ‘uknowhatimsayin¿‘, was another banging record that, while not quite reaching the near unattainable heights of his previous album- was another shining example of the kind of dark humour and incisive self laceration that nobody does quitebas well- anywhere near as well- as Danny Brown.
Whenever Danny Brown’s name would come up in conversation though- whether it was news stories about him hosting his own radio station on GTA V, conversations with other white people on Twitter desperate to prove they don’t only listen to music directly influenced by ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea‘, or engaged in deep debates on the condition of his teeth– it would always be stressed how his 2011 album ‘XXX’ was his true masterpiece. Could it be?? Could the damn perfect ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ somehow not be the defining statement of one of this generation’s most anomalous talents?? I, obviously, had to investigate.
And… Yeah, it’s very, very, very, extremely, absolutely good. It also pales in comparison to ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ and might not even be notably superior to last year’s album. If you truly think ‘XXX’ is the greatest work of Danny Brown’s career, then there’s definitely a side of Danny Brown that you prefer. ‘XXX’ is definitely the go-to album if you want provocative and non stop references to bitches and tiddies. It’s the one to flick through in your vinyl collection if you want examples of how bizarrely hilarious Brown’s turn of phrase can be (“The way these bitches on my cock/You’d swear it was 1985/and Teen Wolf just dropped/And my name was Michael J. Fox”). And, yeah, if you fancy getting grossed out, this is definitely the place to come. When listened to after getting into his later, far more searching and desolate albums, ‘XXX’ can’t help but come across as rather shallow and far too focused on comedy. It’s also not completely evident where the line is drawn between performative grossness and actual grossness, and whether it’s even worthwhile to differentiate between the two. On his later albums, there always seemed to be a wider point to Brown digging these depths, whether to illuminate issues with himself or with the world in general, yet on ‘XXX’ it often seems to be done for shits and giggles. Which is fine, and plays into an astonishingly enjoyable record, but ‘XXX’ seems to illuminate one or two dimensions of both the Brown the performer and Brown the ‘person/character’ that it can’t help but feel somewhat disposable. It’s often just (pretty hilarious) tales of debauchery, lacking the later album’s actual analysis of that debauchery.
The night before ‘Atrocity Exhibition’s morning after. Still an essential and bracing work of art, but- shock!- no way near as good as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of the 21st century.
Oops! It seems that once again we are of to:
A lesser artisan than myself might have aimed for some separation between ‘XXX’ and Janelle Monae’s 2007 debut EP to avoid that poor cat making two appearences in quick succession. But that’s why they are lesser artisans. They would just chop and mix up the list according to nonsense delusions of ‘aesthetics’ and ‘form’. I’m just speaking the facts- if ‘The Chase’ ends up falling directly after Danny Brown’s supposed magnum opus, am I just to deny the science?? No. I just give you the truth. Everyone else is lying to you. Everyone.
Despite Janelle being a mainstay of the Necessary Evil list since her debut album was named the best album of 2010, I’ve never actually investigated the debut EP that truly introduced the world to one of its most extraordinary talents. And, of course, it’s an absolute joy, because Ms Monae deals exclusively in joy and everything she even dribbles upon is likely to become the most important and worthwhile thing in your life.
It’s an absolutely perfect introduction to the world of Ms Monae, with the lyrics of Many Moons serving as an important introduction to all the topics her career is likely to touch upon and all the people her music is destined to reach:
Civil rights, civil war
Hood rat, crack whore
Closet drunk, bathtub
Stepchild, freak show
Black girl, bad hair
Broad nose, cold stare
Tap shoes, Broadway
Creative black, Love song
Stupid words, erased song
Gun shots, orange house
Dead man walking with a dirty mouth
Spoiled milk, stale bread
Welfare, bubonic plague
Record deal, light bulb
Keep back kid now corporate thug
Breast cancer, common cold
HIV, lost hope
Overweight, self esteem
Misfit, broken dream
Fish tank, small bowl
Closed mind, dark hold
Cybergirl, droid control
Get away now they trying to steal your soul
Microphone, one stage
Street fight, bloody war
Instigators, third floor
Promiscuous child, broken heart
Heroin user, coke head
Final chapter, death bed
Plastic sweat, metal skin
Metallic tears, mannequin
Carefree, night club
Closet drunk, bathtub
White house, Jim Crow
Dirty lies, my regards
She’s amazing. This EP’s amazing. You’re amazing. Apart from you. You can piss off.
I’ll admit, after seeing the retro futurism of that cover, I was expecting Sophia Regina Allison’s second album to really push the boat out stylistically, strip all of her old sound in favour of an aggressive and overwrought sci-fi dystopia in the same vein as Billy Idol’s laughable ‘Cyberpunk’ album. Perhaps the record would open with a disembodied mechanical voice warning us that “THE YEAR IS 2120. MUSIC HAS BEEN OUTLAWED BY THE FUTURE POLICE, WHO REFER TO THEMSELVES AS ‘THE FUTURE POLICE’ EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY WORKING IN THEIR OWN TIME,BUT THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD MAKE SENSE FOR ANY TIME TRAVELLING DOCUMENTARIES. HUMANITY HAS ONE LAST HOPE THOUGH, THE HALF CYBORG HALF MARTIAN PLEASURE BOT KNOWN SIMPLY AS ‘SOCCER MOMMY’ WHO WANTS TO SAVE THE WORLD WITH THE POWER OF EMOTIONALLY VULNERABLE INDIE ROCK”. Then there’d be, like, an electronic whooooooosh sound as we enter the opening song, which would be the first single Denial Is the Most Predictable of Human Responses. Come on, admit it, aren’t you hyped up for that??
So, yeah, slightly disappointing that it’s essentially more of the same. There are no huge leaps sonically from her 2018 debut ‘Clean‘, everything is just tighter, bigger and thrown at the listener with a bit more force and a handful of extra power chords. But Soccer Mommy’s ‘more of the same’ means more of the most adept and effective (proper) indie music that you’re likely to find in 2020. As good as the music is, Ms Allison’s true strength has always seen the quality of her lyric writing, and I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to claim that Soccer Mommy might well be the greatest and most incisive commentator of early 20s depression that there currently is.
The Boomers and the Shroomers (I’m definitely closer to the latter) may scoff at the very idea of early 20s depression. Like, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?? How can you be depressed when you understand how TikTok works and your genitals are in fully functioning condition?? This idea that the young have it all is a pathetic call back to maybe 50 years ago when people under 30 really did have it all- decent chance of affective employment; affordable housing; sex without consequence; actual futures; actual communities- but we’ve decided to strip away literally all of the benefits of youth in order to more completely bolster the safety nets of the old (usually male, white) cunts and ensure that they can complain about the youth of today in complete financial safety. We’ve built a system where the young are still expected to change the world, but we’ve removed any support that might make that possible and furthermore angrily denounce young people for speaking out because, I dunno, we watched the Vietnam war on TV and think kids today have got it made. Not realising that every person in their 20s now would give up every working limb and maybe a bit sliced off the genitals for just a percentage of the security, confidence and support that people growing up in the pre-Thatcher/Reagan era had.
So, yeah, that’s why Color Theory is good, yeah?
This post is already 2000 words, you know? Yeah, I might be splitting them into groups of five from now on…