OK, let’s try and put this in some sort of perspective: I have always considered my three favourite artists of all time to be Prince, Manic Street Preachers and Nick Cave. Between all three of them they have all had a combined thirty records make the Necessary Evil end of year list and out of those thirty, two have been named the year’s best. If I wanted to throw in some faves – both problematic and less so – from the last 15-20 years I might throw in the names of Janelle Monae, The Hotelier, Kanye West, Let’s Eat Grandma, CHVRCHES or Yeasayer. Twenty three entries between them. One winner. Oh, and Radiohead have never finished first, but
Thirteen different artists have won Necessary Evil since it first started in 2007. Maybe fourteen, depending on your take on 2013’s infamous Arctic Monkeys/Hjaltalín controversy. No artist has ever finished first twice. Until now. 070 Shake’s ‘Modus Vivendi’ was the greatest album of 2020, and the 2022 follow-up is unquestionably the greatest album released this year, with its only viable contender being a 1982 masterpiece widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. These are the only two albums she has released.
And I didn’t want this to be the case. I am really protective of records like that, and would much prefer or this list to be a constantly evolving and varied shout out to different artists coming into their own at different times. I was anxious all through 2018 that Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer’ was going to make her the first two time winner (out of only three albums?? That’s ridiculous! What is this, a Janelle Monae fan site??) and was overjoyed when I realised that the more slowly evident majesty of the Car Seat Headrest album was actually superior. Quick aside: how amazing was 2018 for albums?? Four years on, I would also consider ‘I’m All Ears‘ and ‘Double Negative‘ to be superior to Monae, but these were all incredible albums that we were so blessed to be gifted. ‘Be the Cowboy’ at #5 though?? Ngggggggggggg… Perfume Genius’s incredible 2020 follow up 2017’s album of the year was an equally valid choice for the year’s best, but I just didn’t feel it was amazing in a way significantly different from its predecessor, so it didn’t feel right naming it higher than second. Number one that year was 070 Shake, but she might have been fortunate that – unless you’re Pitchfork – 2020 wasn’t a particularly strong year for music. Oh I’m sorry, everyone, did you all have other plans in 2020 or something?? Get your fucking priorities right. Shake became the first person since Janelle a decade earlier to win Necessary Evil with a debut album. Two years later, she is more interested in creating records rather than just replicating them.
But it felt weird handing the accolade to Shake. Who even is 070 Shake?? I absolutely adore her, and have done since her unmistakable and distinctive sound elevated a couple of releases on the GOOD Music label back in 2018, but I have no personal relationship with the artist, she panders to none of my nostalgia, she doesn’t represent any budding love of music in my teenage years. I heard her for the first time when I was
thirty six twenty nine years old! Does she deserve this?? Even the freaking Manics have only won it once!
Well, guess what, this shit is scientific. I don’t just hand out these laurels based on personal sympathies. Necessary Evil is about facts, not feelings. We may differ on a few key issues – and when I fuck his wife I make sure her vagina is soaking – but if Ben Shapiro listened to 2022’s records he would rank them in exactly the same order were he capable of being honest. Because this motherfucker be facts.
And the fact is that nobody in the 2020s is producing music as interesting, as ambitious, as moving and as incredible as Danielle Balbuena. This has been a far stronger year for music than the unsure and anxious world when her debut was released in 2020. The reason I took a bit of a break after writing the #6 entrant was because
I was knackered after writing seventy five posts in three weeks I knew how strong 2022’s best five albums were, and I wanted to make absolutely sure that Shake’s second was truly the best. With all due respect to Sudan Archives, yeule, Let’s Eat Grandma and – of course – Prince Himself, there really isn’t much debate. It’s not just a far superior record to her debut, but it’s an expansive and truly emotionally affecting record that ambitiously twists its music into always active directions. Yes, the Kanye influence is obvious, but the overlap between West falling off badly both artistically and mentally and Shake emerging to grasp the baton of sonically ambitious hip-hop/r&b/music is perfect timing. Miss the old Kanye? How about the new Kanye?
‘You Can’t Kill Me’ is a far more subtle than her debut, it’s more anguished, more reticent and measured. The choruses aren’t as big and the bops aren’t as obvious. Honestly, this is the only reason I can fathom as to why this album isn’t unanimously topping 2022 lists (it’s currently ranked as the 604th best album of the year on average) is that she simply isn’t properly appreciated as the talent she is, so other critics simply didn’t have the time nor motivation to truly allow ‘You Can’t Kill Me’ the time it needs to properly envelop itself onto your very soul. It’s an album that needs to be lived within, it’s a whole world that Shake creates and once its swaying synths, electric guitars and never static melodies or tempos truly reveal themselves, there’s simply nothing else like the majesty that Shake creates.
You’re all sleeping on the most vital artist of your generation, and future historians will piss themselves at how obtusely you all settled on the wrong side of history.
The fuck is wrong with you people?
2022’s list is done! Now for the Legit Bosses, which actually takes far more effore because, seriously, there’s hundreds of those cunts this year
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