Even after listening to This Is All Yours quite a lot during 2014 I still find it impossible to describe exactly what Alt-J sound like. This makes explaining just why This Is All Yours is one of my favourite albums of 2014 quite difficult so I won’t bother. It may take a few listens, but this album is unlike anything else on this list, it’s experimental, inventive and confusing at times, but like albums from Bon Iver and The Weeknd in previous years it was memorable enough for me to keep listening.
Skrillex made an album that works as an actual album. I know I should hate Recess, but I’m one of those people who genuinely loved Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites. Recess is crazed, baffling, awkward to listen to on a train and I love it.
Kiss Me Once is not Kylie’s best album. It’s probably the worst thing she has released since the 90s, so why is it on this list? The high points on Kiss Me Once far outweigh the weak points for me and that’s all I can really ask for of Kylie in 2014. Ignore that the Enrique duet exists and ignore that I Was Gonna Cancel was ever attempting to be a thing (Kylie has) and you have some brilliant pop music. Sexy Love is possibly the most basic song of the year, but I can’t help but love it. It’s like Jessie J’s Domino without the needless oversinging; a silly, but undeniably catchy pop song. Into The Blue is basically All The Lovers 2 and Fine sees Kylie take on the 90s sound like no one else could. I liked Kiss Me Once, but completely understand why Kylie should be delivering more.
Following debut single Ghost the pressure was on for Ella Henderson’s full length release. As it turns out Chapter One is quite good after all. It’s not 12 more Ghosts mind, but there’s plenty on here to make me think Ella is in this for the long haul. Mirror Man is pure old school soul, while Rockets is an uptempo number that doesn’t come across as forced next to the ballads here. Far and away the best song here though is one we heard way back in 2012 on Ella’s first audition. One of the best auditions the X Factor has ever seen, Ella sang her own song Missed, which appears as the last song here. She may have missed a trick by not performing it as a guest at the final, but this is still as heartbreaking 2 years on. It elevates Chapter One from being just a good X Factor finalist’s album, to being a great one and I’m excited to hear where Ella goes from here.
Emeli Sande, Magic, The Script, Nico & Vinz, Nicki Minaj and Sia all meet up with David Guetta to sing some songs. Listen is literally Now That’s What I Call 2014 (The David Guetta Remix) and it’s all the better for it.
On release there were quite a few people who were down on the latest Maroon 5 album, a pure pop album that some said doesn’t sound like Maroon 5 at all. While I can sort of see where these people are coming from, when Adam Levine sounds this good singing songs as catchy as It Was Always You I find it hard to care. Is V a guilty pleasure? If it is then it was one of the best in 2014.
ANASTACIA IS BACK. 6 years after her last full original studio album, the ill fated Heavy Rotation, Resurrection manages to showcase Anastacia at her best; belting out massive stadium anthems like no one else can. Following her second battle with breast cancer last year this album is so much bigger than simply being another set of songs for her to sing. Stupid Little Things and Staring At The Sun are massive records, adding even more classics to her discography. With direct parallels to her self titled album in 2004, Resurrection is angry and emotional, but empowering above anything else. It’s amazing to have Anastacia back and this was one of my most memorable albums of 2014.
I very nearly wrote a small essay about how George Ezra found himself on my iPod in the first place, but rather than bore you I’ll stick to the album itself. Wanted On Voyage doesn’t sound like any other album in 2014. The vocal production especially has this grainy quality that allows Ezra’s souful sound ease itself across the rest of the song. It feels raw and organic, like they decided to use the first take rather than the cleaner final one. Wanted On Voyage is honest and genuine and for so many reasons is one of the albums I’ll remember most from 2014.
I genuinely loved The Ting Tings’ debut album We Started Nothing back in 2008. It was loud, brash and exactly what my 17 year old self wanted from an album. Super Critical is like listening to We Started Nothing in a club. It doesn’t make much sense, but you can’t help but dance. The Ting Tings nailed disco in 2014 with Wrong Club and Super Critical manages to nail The Ting Tings themselves.
It may not have 9 top 10 singles on it (yet), but Motion is a worthy follow up to 18 Months. Calvin Harris is developing his sound bit by bit over the years, teasing us with songs like Outside and Pray To God which see him bringing in genres seemingly miles away from where they eventually end up here. Appearances from Haim, Gwen Stefani, Hurts and Tinashe never feel forced. Unlike the David Guetta album I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t feel like a bunch of remixes of other artists songs, this is pure Calvin from start to finish and it’s brilliant. Let’s just never mention Open Wide again and we will all be much happier.
I was more nervous about my first listen of this album than any other on this list. I’m a huge Take That fan, if you hadn’t already guessed, but seeing them become a three piece earlier this year had me so worried. Jason Orange may not have contributed the most to the group, but he brought an honesty that managed to bring Gary back down to earth when needed. I would have been the Jason in the group, not the most talented, but always giving it everything when it came down to it. I’m glad I held out for III though as it’s possibly the strongest album the group has ever released. Like a progression of the good parts of Progress, this manages to recall the sounds of over two decades of Take That and yet be totally relevant in today’s chart. Songs like Let It The Sun and Get Ready For It are some of the best pop songs the group have ever released, which considering their massive radiography is high praise indeed.
The first truly great album of 2014, Little Red manages to never feel like a retread of On A Mission. Where that album was about the thrill of being young and how it feels to actually go to ‘the club’ Little Red is a more emotional take on club lifestyle. Katy B has never been more danceable than on Jessie Ware collaboration Aaliyah or opening track Next Thing, but moments later she’s showcasing pure emotion on Crying For No Reason or Still. This contrast is best heard on album standout Emotions, which builds from a thudding mid tempo ballad into an electrifying dance track. Little Red is less focused than On A Mission, but this only allows Katy B to evolve her sound; she is fast becoming the UK’s best female dance act.
INSERT WORDS ABOUT HOW MUCH I LOVE LADY ANTEBELLUM HERE INCLUDING HOW EPIC THE TITLE TRACK IS AND HOW PERFECTLY THEIR VOICES BLEND TOGETHER AND THAT I AM MORE EXCITED TO SEE THEM AT COUNTRY2COUNTRY NEXT YEAR THAN I’VE EVER BEEN FOR ANY CONCERT EVER.
I was tipped off on this album by my friend Richard (@dawsonsweek) a couple of months ago. SOHN’s sound is difficult to describe. Not quite as indecipherable as Bon Iver, not quite as weird as James Blake, not quite a singer songwriter. What Tremors is though is a brilliant cohesive album. Each track is built around one small motif but each develops to places you’d never expect. It’s a strange choice here, but is definitely one of the best albums of 2014.
I wish I could say that Sound of a Woman was consistently brilliant. I wish I could say that it expands on Hideaway and No Enemiesz and gives Kiesza the debut she deserves. Sadly I can’t, but as it stands this is pure 90s dance brilliance, albeit with some needless 90s hip-hop thrown in that dampens the mood. The title track is an epic pop moment next to a ballad version of What Is Love. So Deep goes to places you didn’t think Kiesza could go, while Vietnam and Over Myself recall Whitney in her prime. The flaws here may be few, but they are great enough to place this album just outside my top 10.
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