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This years monumental music releases

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Lorde, Tyler the Creator and Kendrick Lamar were a few artists who released great albums this year.

Lorde, Tyler the Creator and Kendrick Lamar were a few artists who released great albums this year.

Photo by Trevor Lingle | For The Globe

Photo by Trevor Lingle | For The Globe

Lorde, Tyler the Creator and Kendrick Lamar were a few artists who released great albums this year.

Written By Mick Stinelli, Co-A&E Editor

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Despite being a tumultuous year in many respects, 2017 brought us no shortage of great art. Albums from industry natives to exciting newcomers make up some of the best of the year. From the intimate confessionals of Jay-Z to the reserved beauty of Moses Sumney, here are some of the year’s best albums.

ARCA – “ARCA”

The cover art for “Arca” features a close-up of a face – a stark difference from the grotesque digital art that adorned his first two LPs. This art signaled a change, as Arca introduced a new layer to his already dense and complex production: his voice. What resulted was his most captivating and enjoyable work to date. Combining the avant-garde with pop sensibility, Arca solidified his spot as one of the most intriguing and rewarding artists working
today.

FLEET FOXES – “CRACK-UP”

Ditching the campfire sing-along ease of their previous two LPs, Fleet Foxes opted for longer and more complex arrangements than they have ever presented before. Still remaining are the band’s incredible harmonies and lead singer Robin Pecknold’s soaring voice. The melodies, though constantly changing and rearranging, are as catchy as ever. Pecknold’s lyrics are more poetic and elusive than they have ever been.

JAY-Z – “4:44”

The veteran rapper returned to the public eye with his 13th studio album. Featuring some of Hov’s most candid and honest lyricism of his career, “4:44” was immaculately produced by No ID. Samples from Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone form the basis for Jay-Z to reminisce on family, his career and the state of the rap game. It’s a solid return to form for one of rap’s biggest stars.

KELELA – “TAKE ME APART”

“Take Me Apart” reassured audiences that the long-awaited LP was well worth the wait. The record is undeniably modern, yet miles ahead of many of Kelela’s contemporaries. Her voice, somehow both powerful and cool, drives the wonderfully produced tracks. It’s a rare album where every track could qualify as a single, yet it works best as a collective whole.

KENDRICK LAMAR – “DAMN.”

In this album, Lamar seeks inner peace amidst a chaotic society. He takes jabs at Geraldo Rivera, (“Fox News wanna use my name for percentage”) Donald Trump and America itself. The record tackles lofty themes like love, lust, pride, humility, fear and God. One of the LP’s best moments is its climactic finish, where we hear the story of a chance encounter between Lamar’s musical idol, Top Dawg, and his own father. The story serves as a reminder of the massive impact of a seemingly irrelevant interaction. 

KING KRULE – “THE OOZ”

Archy Marshall returns to his King Krule project’s much-anticipated sophomore album. Refusing to be constricted by genre, Marshall dabbles in rock, hip-hop and electronic music. Challenging yet rewarding, “The OOZ” stands out in a year defined by reggaetón and trap-influenced music; it sounds otherworldly, futuristic and uncategorizable. 

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – “AMERICAN DREAM”

“American Dream” follows many of the conventions that LCD Soundsystem became known for in their first incarnation. Despite this (or because of this), LCD returns from their breakup-turned-hiatus with an album worthy of standing alongside the rest of their catalogue. “Tonite” into “Call the Police” into “American Dream” remains one of the year’s most unbelievable sequences, and continues to thrill after repeated listens. 

LORDE – “MELODRAMA”

Despite have written “Melodrama” before she turned 21, the album solidified Lorde as of the best songwriters alive today. Flashes of dancing, riding in Ubers and drunken decisions fill the record. Backed by polished production, Lorde’s lyrics take the listener into the mind of a voice of a generation that refuses to be put into a box. Songs like “Green Light” and “Perfect Places” scream with triumph, while ballads like “Liability” and “Writer in the Dark” remind the listener that even the most perfect parties have moments of self-reflection and frustration.

MOSES SUMNEY – “AROMANTICISM”

Rarely do debut albums display an artistic vision so fully realized. After several singles and two EPs, Sumney showed listeners that his voice could be just as captivating over a full-length record. Though many of its songs are slow and spacious, the album sits at a tight 34 minutes, never dragging anything out longer than it needs to. Sumney’s voice is delicate, but presenting an album as unique and incredible as this one suggests that he is bolder than he appears.

Tyler, the Creator – “Flower Boy”

Gone are the immature jokes, homophobic lyrics and shock-value humor of Tyler, the Creator’s previous albums. On “Flower Boy,” Tyler realizes his full potential – not only as an MC, but as a songwriter and producer. Blending the beautiful with the abrasive, “Flower Boy” delivers some of the year’s best pop, rap and R&B all in one package. The result: an album that shows a young goofball transformed into a genuine auteur. Guest appearances come via the usual suspects – Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, Lil Wayne – as well as up-and-comers like Steve Lacey and Kali Uchis. With “Flower Boy,” Tyler, the Creator perfected his vision without sacrificing his unique voice and personality.

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