Top 50 albums of 2019: Number One

1: Pip Blom – Boat

It’s the catchy indie pop of the debut album from Dutch four piece Pip Blom that takes the top slot in The Album Review’s top albums of 2019. Despite it being a little lighter in style for my generally beefier tastes in music, Boat’s charms are simply irresistible.

Opener Daddy Issues sets the standard for bury-its-way-into-your-head riffs and lyrics that the rest of the album successfully follows up on. Stick it on your headphones/earbuds now. I dare you not to be nodding along within 30 seconds, I double dare you motherfucker.

Other highlights from the album include the insomnia-inducing catchiness of Tired and the hypnotic chug of Tinfoil, but to be honest it’s all utterly fabulous. It’s the one album from this year that I can put on anywhere and someone will pipe up with ‘Who’s this? It’s really good!’.

I’ve seen this band twice now and their on-stage enthusiasm is as infectious as their music. They have the potential to be big, they just need a growing fanbase and a few people championing their cause. So here I am, shouting out loud to you. Listen to Boat, listen to it now, you won’t regret it.

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 Here’s the full run down from 50 to 1

Top 50 albums of 2019: Number Two

2: Fews – Into Red

I can’t begin to describe how close this came to being album of the year. It literally could have been on the toss of a coin but just because it sits at number two don’t let that detract from the brilliance of Into Red.

This is the second album from Swedish/US post-punk group FEWS, following their impressive debut Means. This time around, there is a greater sophistication to the band’s sound. The guitars are notably beefier than the sometimes jangly, knock-me-down-with-a-feather variety on the first. They’ve also fully embraced the shoegaze/wall of sound philosophy on many tracks, which reverb fans will adore.

The level of song quality is consistently high across this album and if they continue to develop their sound in the way they have, album number three could be immense.

I doubt this album will be in many top 50 lists this year, which is a crying shame in my view. A much under-rated band that should exposed to a wider audience.

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 Drum roll please for the number one spot

Top 50 albums of 2019: Number Three

3: Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

At the forefront of the burgeoning Dublin punk scene, Fontaines D.C. have been one of the big success stories of 2019. Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and awarded 6 Music’s Album of the Year, Dogrel is an essential album to listen to, and listen to.

There’s no escaping the Irish background of this band, with lead singer Grian Chatten making the most of his thick Dublin drawl across the album, which ranges from Gaelic folk tunes, indie-pop and high-octane post-punk.

There are catchy riffs and choruses galore and the album grows on you with each listen. When I first reviewed this album I struggled with some of the tracks, but Dogrel’s charms have really grown on me, where other initially impressive albums have faded away.

Having seen them perform live recently, they really have the world at their feet, should they choose to seize the opportunity.

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Who just missed out on the top spot?

Top 50 albums of 2019: Number Four

4: Underworld – Drift Series 1

Yet another of the classic 90s dance acts enjoying a particularly purple patch. And when your creative juices are really flowing, why limit yourself to a traditional album? Instead Karl Hyde and Rick Smith from Underworld committed themselves to producing a piece of work every week for a year, putting it online for their eager followers to consume.

Drift Series 1 is the culmination of that incredible achievement, and despite the pressured timelines they placed on themselves they have delivered music that at times is on a par with their very best work.

All versions of Underworld are on display here in this 7 CD, 1 Blu-ray box set. Dancefloor-fillers, jazzy dub, poetry-filled soundscapes, ambient electronica and screaming acid-techno bangers. There is a sampler version available on vinyl but it misses out on so many quality tunes that I would advise setting the time aside a ploughing through the whole bally lot.

‘Quality over quantity’ the old saying goes. Underworld have just proven that you can do both.

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We’re down to the final three

Top 50 albums of 2019: Number Five

5: The Chemical Brothers – No Geography

Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, a.k.a The Chemical Brothers have been producing fantastic electronic dance music since the early 90s but rarely have they achieved the giddy heights that took them to superstardom in their heyday. Yet, with No Geography they have produced an album of consistently high quality tracks to rival anything they’ve done since Surrender 20 years ago.

From the disco stomps of Eve of Destruction and Got To Keep On, to more acid infused bangers such as Free Yourself and MAH, we get track after track of classic Chems. Even the more sedate tracks don’t feel as much like fillers as they have on past albums.

Though they never really went away, let’s hope this album is the start of a renaissance rather than a last hurrah.

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Next up, number four

Top 50 albums of 2019: 10-6

10: Little Simz – GREY Area

An uplifting and powerful rap album. Little Simz manages to find optimism among hardship, while calling out some of the stereotypes found in rap culture.

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9: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Shockingly good first half of a two-part album by a band truly comfortable in their own skin. A masterful display of how to build up songs. A crying shame that part 2 wasn’t up to the same standard.

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8: JOHN – Out Here on the Fringes

Brash, boisterous guitar noise that’s just too much fun to ignore.

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7: Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury

An fantastically bonkers blend of dance, psych, post-punk and avent garde that almost always hits the spot.

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6: The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears

A brilliant post-punk debut album with an occasional whiff of early U2 to it, only let down on occasion by a slightly strained vocal.

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Honourable mention: Viagra Boys – Street Worms

This album from the Swedish post-punk outfit was released late in 2018, so doesn’t officially make it into my list, but as I missed it at the back end of last year I wanted to give it a shout out for its brilliantly dirty grooves. Had it been released in 2019, it would most certainly have earned a place somewhere on this page.

 

And we’re down to the final five

Top 50 albums of 2019: 20-11

20: Sarathy Korwar – More Arriving

Thought-provoking, jazzy dub and electronica with a distinct Asian flavour.

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19: slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain

Punky grime from Northampton’s finest Tyron Frampton. This debut fulfills the promise shown in earlier EPs

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18: DiiV – Deceiver

Classic, sumptuous shoegaze from this Brooklyn band. Something to shake your curtain hairstyle to.

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17: The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All The Time

An emotive indie-rock post-punk opus dipped in a good helping of 80s synth.

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16: Balthazar – Fever

Funky, melodic guitar pop that nuzzles it’s way into your brain.

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15: The St Pierre Snake Invasion – Caprice Enchanté

Riotous, affecting and heavy as hell punk that pounds you into joyous submission.

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14: W.H. Lung – Incidental Music

Electronic-heavy indie pop that fans of last year’s storming TVAM album will most certainly enjoy.

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13: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest

The band’s tribute to 80s Bay-area thrash metal and one of their most enjoyable works. Like slipping on an old pair of comfy slippers for me.

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12: Warmduscher – Tainted Lunch

Fun and sleazy rock ‘n roll. A fantastic follow up to last year’s Whale City. Guest contribution from Iggy Pop too.

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11: black midi – Schlagenheim

Sometimes bizarre, but utterly rewarding post-punk. An album that requires active listening.

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Things are starting to get interesting now. Next up: 10-6

Top 50 albums of 2019: 30-21

30: Desert Sessions – Vols. 11 & 12

Josh Homme’s collaborative series returns with some cracking tunes. A lot of this sounds suspiciously like classic QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures but there are a few tracks that surprise along the way too.

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29: LIFE – A Picture Of Good Health

Rousing and angry post-punk for the Hull four-piece. A must for any fans of loud guitars.

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28: Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith

An absorbing album that mixes electronica, ambient, dance and jazz with a splash of psych rock and even a touch of avent-garde.

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27: Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work

Heavy, raucous, clever. A right rollocking riff-tastic grind and a worthy successor to their brilliant debut ‘What Big Eyes’.

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26: The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

Jazz for the dancefloor, featuring the wondrous saxophone and clarinet work of Sons of Kemet’s Shabaka Hutchings. Surprisingly accessible, surprisingly good.

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25: Amyl and The Sniffers – Amyl and The Sniffers

Classic punk on show from this female-fronted Aussie five-piece. Powerful, absorbing and a whole lot of fun.

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24: RIDE – This Is Not A Safe Place

The band’s second album since reforming and they’ve certainly got their songwriting boots back on. Some great tracks on here to rival the best of their early work.

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23: Here Lies Man – No Ground To Walk Upon

More 60’s laden heavy grooves from the LA four-piece. It’s not a divergence from their previous two albums but they’ve certainly nailed this unique sound.

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22: Portico Quartet – Memory Streams

Jazzy trip-hop and electronica that’s perfect for chilling out to.

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21: Christian Fitness – You are the Ambulance

The sixth solo/not solo album from Mclusky and Future of the Left genius Andrew Falkous. As edgy, noisy and witty as ever.

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Not long to wait for albums 20-11.

Top 50 albums of 2019: 40-31

40: Czarface – Meets Ghostface

A smart hip-hop collaboration between Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and Czarface.

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39: Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild

Album three from Blanck Mass is an intense electronic ride that takes the wall of sound concept to another level. It sometimes feels like you’re listening to two tracks at the same time but if you relax your way into it, it can be very rewarding.

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38: Lorelle Meets the Obsolete – De Facto

A dreamy, scuzzy pop-psych epic from this Mexican duo that grows more pleasing with each listen.

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37: Chase and Status – RTRN II JUNGLE

Does exactly what it says on the sleeve. The duo’s homage to 90s jungle has some blistering tracks on it

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36: Chali 2na & Krafy Kuts – Adventures Of A Reluctant Superhero

Addictive, superhero-themed hip-hop. What’s not to like?

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35: Julia Kent – Temporal

An achingly beautiful neo-classical work with a smattering of electronica. Kent’s cello work pulls heavily on your heartstrings.

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34: The Specials – Encore

The kings of Ska return to put the world to rights – and don’t we just need it.

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33: SPC ECO – Fifteen

An indulgent combination of shoegaze and trip-hop from former Curve member Dean Garcia and his daughter.

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32: Prettiest Eyes – Vol. 3

The third effort from this post-punk trio that uses a dash of psych alongside distortion galore to bring a tasty treat to our turntables.

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31: Metronomy – Metronomy Forever

Cosy synth pop and some very catchy tunes combine to produce a memorable effort from these veterans of the scene.

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Look out for albums 30-21 coming real soon.

Top 50 albums of 2019: 50-41

50: Meatraffle – Bastard Music

Left field indie pop the will have you nodding along and scratching your head at the same time.

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49: Petbrick – I

Intense, loud and aggressive electronica. Like The Prodigy on steroids. Smashing.

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48: Gender Roles – Prang

High octane pop-punk with some seriously catchy hooks that’s just the right side of heavy.

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47: Plaid – Polymer

Intelligent techno straight out of the 90s. Reminiscent of Snivilsation/In Sides-era Orbital at points.

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46: Boy Harsher – Careful

Strong on ominous, brooding 80’s synth pop. If you liked the music in Stranger Things, you’re on to a winner with this.

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45: Petrol Girls – Cut & Stitch

Angry, feminist punk with a powerful message that cries out to be heard.

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44: Lonesome Shack – Desert Dreams

Edgy country blues and urban folk rock that is a lot kinder on the ears than you might expect from that description.

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43: Ifriqiyya Electrique – Laylet El Booree

Brilliant blend of traditional African music and metal that leaves you pondering ‘why have I not come across this before?’

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42: The Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe

More classy, emotive and enveloping tracks from these damn-fine purveyors of blissful grooves and soundscapes.

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41: Battles – Juicy B Crypts

Slightly off-beat synths that can be hard work at times but are ultimately rewarding. Almost dance-able at points.

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Coming soon – albums 40-31 in our best of the year countdown