Review: Best albums of January 2017

Written by: Paul Horsman

Jan Highlights Header

We’ve filtered the best of January’s music releases so you don’t have to. Highlights from our favourite 10 albums can be heard here: The Void – Jan 2017 Highlights.

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

Cabbage: Young Dumb and Full of…

CabbageThere’s been a notable number of guitar groups bursting out of the starting blocks this year. Ahead of the pack is the terribly named Cabbage, a relatively new band injecting an exhilarating shot of energy into their brand of penetrating punk.

Whether it’s attacking political figures Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, flaws found in the criminal justice system (“Free Steven Avery”) or the mediocre songwriting of hometown icons Oasis, you get the sense that tongue is firmly being kept in cheek. Of course, poking fun would be ineffective without decent tunes. And Cabbage backup the buzz with plenty of them. If this is what they can deliver while being young and dumb, we can’t wait to see what they come up with once they’ve matured.

The Flaming Lips: Oczy Mlody

The Flaming LipsAt the other end of the scale is The Flaming Lips, a band many believe to have lost the magic after following their creative peak – 1999’s The Soft Bulletin – with a string of unconventional (and some would argue senseless) albums. A quick glance at the song titles for this umpteenth release is unlikely to change minds; There Should Be Unicorns, Listening to Frogs With Demon Eyes, One Night While Hunting for Fairies and Witches and Wizards to Kill. You get the picture.

But beyond the psychobabble is a collection of majestic melodies lifted with rich sonic textures. How?? and We A Famly (a duet with Miley Cyrus) top and tail Oczy Mlody exquisitely, while the whole thing begs to be heard through decent headphones in a darkened room. This is one to discover and lose yourself to.

The xx: I See You

The xxMuch has been made of The xx’s personal demons, but I See You isn’t a dark album wallowing in tragedy. Opening with detonating horns and a call-to-arm siren, Dangerous is their most thrilling song to date, while the sliced up Hall and Oats sample on lead single On Hold is the sound of the band having a blast.

Perhaps inspired by the success of producer Jamie xx’s solo project (In Colour), dance undertones are evident throughout. When the layers build and explode in all the right places, as they do on A Violent Noise, the results are captivating. Elsewhere, Lips and Say Something Loving remind us that Millennium-era R&B was always their key musical influence.

You could argue that I See You doesn’t steer left far enough. But by continuing to develop their trademark sound – now very much the sound of the mainstream – The xx are keeping one step ahead of the copycats.

Listen to highlights from this month’s 10 best albums: The Void – Jan 2017 Playlist

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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