Review: Best albums of February 2017

Written by: Paul Horsman


Music

We’ve filtered the best of February’s music releases so you don’t have to. Highlights from our favourite ten albums can be heard here: The Void – Feb 2017 Highlights

Not got Spotify? Then be sure to check out these top three…

Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors

Dirty-ProjectorsIt’s been a strong month for R&B albums, which perhaps isn’t surprising with the genre enjoying such a creative peak of late.

What is surprising is that one of the most experimental comes from David Longstreth; the 35-year-old frontman of indie rock band Dirty Projectors. With seven albums already under his belt, this self-titled release addresses a breakup with former band member Amber Coffman and steers that heartache through a bold new musical direction. And although the array of sounds take a little getting used to at first, you’ll soon be won over.

Death Spiral is crammed with ideas, sounding like something Justin Timberlake might release were he more unhinged. Up In Hudson avoids the risk of being too understated by dropping a hook so addictive it becomes the best track on the album. Work Together and Ascent Through Clouds experiment with vocal techniques in a way that would make Bon Iver proud. And just when Cool Your Heart starts to sound like typical radio fodder, it throws in an explosion of styles to highlight that none of these songs sound like anything else around.

Elbow – Little Fictions

Elbow - Little FictionsWith some bands, it’s all about the timing. You might have thought there wasn’t any need for another Elbow album in your life, but here they are with new set of songs to thaw the frost and remind us that spring is only around the corner.

Reflecting its artwork, Little Fictions provides plenty of space to breathe within its sonic landscape. Opening track Magnificent (She Says) is the band at their most epic, its majestic strings sweeping in like fresh air on a clear winter’s day. Gentle Storm and K2 use drum loops and vocal layering to create a meditative state of listening, while the title track reminds us of their knack at knocking out something stirring. Little Fictions proves that it’s way too early to write off Elbow – there’s plenty of movement in the old joint yet.

Sampha – Process

Sampha - ProcessThe problem with instantly accessible albums is that, five listens later, there’s nothing left to discover. But albums that take that long to reveal their strengths reward the listener abundantly. Which leads us to the astonishing debut from Sampha.

Having arrived on the scene back in 2011, it seems every innovative R&B album released since has been aiming towards this one. That’s not to say Process borrows shamelessly; it’s very much it’s own thing, unwilling to settle or be plagued by musical references. It also takes its sweet time. Highlights such as Kora Sings, Reverse Faults and Under are far from typical soul ditties and unlikely to resonate on first listen. Even the most accessible song here, Blood On Me, is coloured with unusual tension and fear.

But having taken the time to develop his sound, Sampha has mastered the art of balancing distance and connection. So, as the musical layers are peeled back on each listen, there’s something new to return to again and again. If you only have time to invest in one album, make it this one.

Listen to highlights from this month’s ten best albums: The Void – Feb 2017 Highlights




Author: Paul Horsman

Paul likes writing. And music. It’s unclear whether he likes sharing his suggestions with others or simply likes unleashing an ugly critic within… but we allow him to write about music on The Void.

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