Our Favourite Albums Of The Last Five Years

One of the measures of a great album has always been its staying power, and perhaps this is an even greater achievement in a world where music is so easily accessible and arguably disposable. So we decided we’d look back a little to see which albums over the last five years have made a lasting impression on us, and endured the painful process of having to each choose one favourite that rises above the multitude of others as a landmark in our listening.

Daughter - If You Leave

If You Leave (2013)
Kim: “I first heard the hypnotic voice of Elena Tonra when I downloaded iTunes’ free ’Single of the Week’ featuring Daughter’s EP track ‘Youth’. It quickly ended up on repeat and I promised myself I would look out for an album release. This actually happened in March 2013 but I didn’t pick it up until a friend recommended it to me a while later.

Elena’s enchanting voice flows through all of the tracks in a dark and mysterious way with some heartbroken lyrics examining love, life and loneliness. It might not be the most cheerful album but the gentle arrangements and dreamy compositions make it a keeper.”

Son Lux - Lanterns

Son Lux
Lanterns (2013)
Sam: “I first came across this band listening to a soundtrack by the lead singer, Ryan Lott, for the film ‘The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby.’ With its ethereal sound combining various pads with acoustic guitar, it led me to think that their albums would be in a similar vein. What I came across was so much more complex and satisfying.

Ryan Lott uses samples that are densely layered with live instruments combining digital and acoustic elements that are led by anthemic, catchy vocals. The tracks never go where you expect them to, which I love, there being more detail to discover with each listen.

I always enjoy listening to music that goes beyond the expected; music that sets new creative boundaries and leaves you thinking, ‘How on earth did they achieve that?’ This album certainly delivers on that front. Check it out!”

Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer, Different Park

Kacey Musgraves
Same Trailer Different Park (2013)
Pete Darling: “I love this album for several reasons. The songwriting is clever yet plainspoken, the production feels polished yet not overly processed, and Musgrave’s voice is expressive and relatable.

Song subjects include small town mentality (‘Merry Go ‘Round’), hypocrisy (‘Follow Your Arrow’), dysfunctional relationships (‘It Is What It Is’, ‘Stupid’), and one charming number is about the benefits of having a mobile home (‘My House’).

Ultimately, the main reason I like it is because it’s been in my girlfriend’s CD player in her car and we’ve listened to it together lots. A song like ‘Keep It To Yourself’ reminds me of the two of us having a sing whilst being stuck in traffic, so that’s nice.”

Amon Tobin - ISAM

Amon Tobin
ISAM (2011)
Ben: “Having had the opportunity to see Amon Tobin perform ISAM live in 2012 (if you haven’t heard about this show, make sure you check it out), I feel like I witnessed a very rare combination of audio and visual mastery. Amon, and his exceptional team, perfected how to be entrepreneurial and stand apart in a world of thousands of tracks and hundreds of albums each year, especially in the realm of DJs and producers.

Even as I write this I am acutely aware that I haven’t even mentioned the music on the album, and the music won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me the album and the live performance are absolutely synonymous; they don’t make sense without each other. The show was and still is unique - a phenomenal memory - and I hope I will witness something more captivating in my lifetime… but I am not sure I will.”

Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting

Jamie Woon
Mirrorwriting (2011)
Kamal: “This is a unique, underrated and intelligent album. The talent of those involved in creating it is enough to sink a ship (Woon is joined by Burial and Royce Wood Junior on the production, who are both behemoths in their own right), but their ideas are combined in a way that just works - the production always complements and supports the song, is never overdone, but is richly layered and detailed and so interesting to listen to.

I would normally be suspicious that such intricate production might be trying to disguise weak songs, but these songs are cohesive, memorable and brilliant in their own right, and Woon’s smooth voice helps to draw you in and keeps you coming back, which I do, time and time again.

The album’s sound a perfect combination for me - simultaneously mysterious and accessible; dense as well as subtle. So whenever I’m on the move after dark, whether in the city, by the sea, driving, walking, on the train… this is the one.”

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Frank Ocean
Channel Orange (2012)
Will: “If I had bought this album on vinyl, it would be a worn out husk of plastic by now. There was a period of about 3 months in 2012 where I listened to this album at least once a day and so it was truly inevitable that Channel Orange would have a significant influence over my musical endeavours this decade.

As a lyricist, Frank Ocean is incredibly clever at dabbling in darker subject matter without ever feeling melodramatic, due to his distinctive ability to absorb himself into various characters throughout the course of the album.

It would have been a real shame if the music detracted from the brilliant stories within, however the minimalist approach in composition and production couldn’t be a more perfect match. There’s so much depth and sonic clarity contained in these 62 minutes and there’s a real sense that each note was carefully considered; each track cut free of any unnecessary complication. The genius of (and lesson learnt from) this album, is of communicating the strongest ideas to the listener with precision, and allowing space for reflection in-between.”

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Bon Iver
Bon Iver (2011)
PYB: “A few of my close friends got to see this performed live and I will be forever gutted that I missed out… *sheds a single tear*.

For me, it is the sound of the album that does it. It shimmers, it’s adventurous but subtle, it’s majestic yet intimate. I’m a sucker for horn lines and the blend of instruments is just second to none. ‘Holocene’ is so beautiful that it actually hurts; like, physically winds me. Ouch Vernon, stop being such a musical flippin’ genius already! Anyways, that’s my piece. There’s a lot more that could be said about this record but I’ll ‘leave it’ as Lethal Bizzle might recommend. Also… dat falsetto!”

- A strong five years, as we’re sure you’ll agree. Well done, music. So what was your favourite album? Tweet us @wmpstudios to let us know so we can witness the fitness.