Review: best albums of June 2017

Written by: Paul Horsman

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

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

Algiers – The Underside of Power

25 seconds into Algiers second album, frontman Franklin James Fisher hooks us with a howl that channels the spirit of Bobby Womack and makes it impossible not to give your full attention for the next 40-odd minutes.

You could argue that Fisher’s voice is what holds this album together, no small task when soaring above an array of clattered beats and chaotic musical backdrops. It all makes sense once you realise the producer is Adrien Utley (him of Portishead), establishing that this isn’t likely to soundtrack sunny days drinking cider around the BBQ.

That said; it’s certainly got its own groove going on. Cry of the Martyrs has a striking urgency you can’t help but move to, while the energetic title track is what motown might sound like on acid. The standout is Cleveland, underpinned by hypnotic gospel that would appeal to the darker soul. And while addressing a number of political issues, The Underside of Power isn’t afraid to get in the face of democracy and demand its voice be heard. Perhaps it is a soundtrack to the summer after all.

Lorde – Melodrama

Forget Perry. Forget Swift. If you prefer your pop princesses left of the middle then Lorde is your match. Seemingly coming out of nowhere in 2013 with the rather excellent Royals, she connected with other teenagers without dumbing down or sacrificing authenticity. And with her songs about suburban boredom dressed up in moody and menacing music, older listeners took notice too. No wonder Bowie approved.

As it became apparent that her second album was steering towards a more “dance-pop” direction, fans feared she might lose her credibility down the commercial toilet. But there was no need to worry. Melodrama presents an artist who is willing to risk developing (gasp) in order to cement longevity and proves to be anything but a one trick pony.

Having hijacked the airwaves since March, the storming Green Light still sounds fresh enough for thousands of whippersnappers to sing along to around the festival circuit. Sober and Supercut reach similar giddy heights, while Liability and Writer in the Dark showcase a craft in creating ballads that drip with darkness rather than syrup. And if she needs another festival anthem up her sleeve, she’s got it in the closing track Perfect Places.

Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

It’s perhaps inevitable that Vince Staples should be compared to fellow Californian Kendrick Lamar; both rappers are way ahead when it comes to creating hip hop that’s credible and current. But whereas Lamar’s recent effort (DAMN.) thrives on being complex and confrontational, it appears Staples would rather his socially sharp lyrics to be listened to in the club. The result is a somewhat unfocussed album, yet all the more thrilling for it.

Crabs in a Bucket opens with electronic flourishes, while BagBak could easily be dropped into a grime set at a warehouse party. Homage, Party People and Love Can Be also sound like they were made to be blasted from the speakers. In comparison, Big Fish and 745 sound predictably straightforward, yet provide balance when interspersed in all the innovation.

Guest appearances include Damon Albarn, Kilo Kish, A$AP Rocky and, oh look, Kendrick Lamar. Yet the most noticeable addition is a sample of Amy Winehouse. Rather than looping her smoky vocal to provide soulfulness, Staples opts for an unedited cut of her thick London accent as she talks about writing songs. It’s yet further evidence that he’s a hip hop artist doing things differently.

Follow Playlist

Listen to more highlights from some of the best albums of 2017…

The Void Playlist – May 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – April 2017 Highlights

The Void Playlist – March 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – February 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – January 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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