Ten albums you cannot miss this month – November 2013
With a year dominated by wrecking balls and stripy suits, New Zealand-born Lorde is a refreshing breath of fresh air in the pop scene, debuting earlier this year with the mega-hit Royals, to much critical acclaim and chart success. The following album is more of the same, featuring soothing laid back production and excellent lyricism. Despite sometimes falling into a monotonous sound, Pure Heroine should be praised for its effort to break the mould.
Despite cancelling a world tour due to a painful hip injury, eccentric superstar Lady Gaga returned earlier this month with the dance-pop masterpiece ARTPOP, proceeded by the smash lead single Applause. Stand-out track and current single Do What U Want is a sexy jam with pulsating hip-hop beats and funky bass slaps, an unusual turn of pace for the electro-pop siren. A smooth mix of grinding R&B, sledge-hammering EDM and a sprinkling of piano-driven ballad, ARTPOP is the best pop record released this year.
Canadian indie-rock band Arcade Fire return from their three-year hiatus with an interesting work. Sonically imaginative and experimental, the record is nostalgic in its love of classic rock, but never feels dated. Stand-out track Afterlife contains the band’s familiar airy vocals and rhythmic drumming, whereas title track Reflektor, released earlier this year with a bizarre video, misses the mark and will leave listeners confused as to why it was selected as the album’s lead single. If you have the acquired taste necessary, Reflektor could be your cult album of the year.
Chart history was made last weekend when the ex-boyband crooner released the UK’s 1000th number one album – the funky Swings Both Ways. Often egoistical and boastful, this release nevertheless is packed with the jazzy vibes you would expect from the UK’s very own pop monarch. Consisting of a majority of classic covers and some newly penned tracks, Swings Both Ways is a gem in Williams’ discography.
Legendary Canadian belter Celine Dion returns with her 11th English-language record, following 2007’s Taking Chances. Mainly sticking to the same formula that catapulted her to worldwide mega-stardom in 1997 (of course the Titanic soundtrack hit My Heart Will Go On), Dion nevertheless provides a solid release that her fans will love. With some dubstep experimentation and an explosive collaboration with Stevie Wonder, Loved Me Back to Life is a very interesting album.
A continuation of 2000’s critically acclaimed smash The Marshall Mathers LP, expectations were running high for Eminem’s latest studio effort – and we were not disappointed. With exceptional flows and intelligent lyrics, Eminem shows his broad knowledge of the rap game that he has accumulated over his long years in the business. Future hit single The Monster featuring Rihanna is soulful and heartbreaking, the Bajan diva serenading us with a hook about coming to grips with her inner demons. This album is truly brilliant and easily rivals all of the rapper’s previous work – don’t miss out.
The British girl band – best known for their victory in 2011’s series of the X Factor – return to top form with their second studio release. Despite their lack of experience, Little Mix know exactly what we want – fun, sugary sweet pop jams which refuse to get out of our heads. Delving into a new R&B sound, the group deliver a more mature sound, as exhibited by the tracks About the Boy and Good Enough. Although Salute doesn’t show any growth from the music on past releases, this is the perfect album for your little sister this Christmas.
English indie-rock artist Jake Bugg – perhaps better known for his public disputes with One Direction boy band members than his music – follows up his self-titled debut with another nostalgic, 60s inspired record. Storm Passes Away, a countrry-inspired, rock-influenced track serves as one of the highlights of the experience. Featuring productions by the infamous Rick Rubin, Bugg has greatly improved on his previous release.
Marking his return to solo music after many long years of talent show judging and boy band reunions, Gary Barlow released his fourth album earlier this month. Since I Saw You Last, while often feeling cliché and unoriginal nevertheless gives us exactly what we expect – bouncy, jazzy tunes targeted at the middle aged market. Despite a lack of experimentation, the album features some haunting melodies and dark lyricisms, perhaps unexpected of the British song writing master.
Lock away your wives and daughters – mop-haired teen heartthrobs One Direction released their third studio album this week to huge buzz, a campaign trail featuring a blockbuster movie in its wake. Departing from their original factory made pop, the group have favoured a mature and rock-based sound in their new release. Filled with catchy choruses and heart-tugging moments, Midnight Memories reminds us why Britain’s most loved boy band deserve our applause.