Review: Best albums of October 2017

Written by: Paul Horsman

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

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

Kelela – Take Me Apart

With a well-received mixtape, inventive EP and some credible collaborations under her belt, Kelela was already the poster girl for forward-thinking R&B before she’d even released this full-length studio album. So, did she experiment further with the sound that made her a fashionable niche… or steer the well-deserved hype down a more polished path?

It seems the answer is a little of both. This may sound like a dream for her record label, but Take Me Apart is slightly uneven for the listener. A few tracks lack the originality needed to keep them swimming above the sea of songs currently riding the airwaves, while others are smothered in production techniques to perhaps disguise the fact they lack a killer tune.

Fortunately, Kelela hits her stride halfway through and barely puts a foot wrong to the end. LMK, Blue Light and Onanon get that effortless-yet-exhilarating balance spot-on, while the pretty Altadena proves she’s more than just a vehicle for her army of producers. Not a total triumph, but still good enough to keep Kelela way ahead of the game.

St Vincent – Masseduction

There’s something rather rousing about Annie Clark’s gradual transformation from quirky poppet to global super-vixen. Each album under the guise of St Vincent has surpassed its predecessor, and taken a leap closer towards that creative and commercial peak.

Masseduction continues this trend with a set of songs as striking as its cover art. Full of addictive hooks, it suspiciously sounds like a bid for the new queen of pop is being made. Yet, with each track staying true to Clark’s oddball charm, this feels less of a strategic move and more of a natural progression of her musical arc. “I can’t turn off what turns me on” she states on the title track. Who are we to argue?

While the tunes are joyous, the storytelling remains dark. Los Ageless clasps us with a catchy chorus: “How can anyone love you and lose you and not lose their minds too?” Young Lover gleefully sings the saga of its subject matter overdosing in a bathtub. And the closing Smoking Section finds our narrator contemplating suicide “just to punish you” (whoever you may be). Even at her most delicate – Happy Birthday Johnny, New York, Slow Disco – Clark’s confidence as a songwriter soars. The crown is finally hers for the taking.

Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life

Whether it was Lauryn Hill outshining her fellow Fugees by threatening to defecate on their microphones, or Shirley Manson punishing her boyfriend by actually defecating on his cornflakes, it feels a lifetime ago we had a frontwoman that frankly rocked.

Vocalist Ellie Roswell is far too well-mannered in person to continue such shenanigans, but on record she gives it a crack. Her band Wolf Alice build on the success of their debut by sharpening their edge on this impressive follow up. And although there’s no questioning the quality of the music, its secret weapon is Roswell’s undeniable presence.

That’s no small task when Visions of a Life sees her playing rebellious rocker and dreamy drifter with equal success. One moment she’s raging: “And now I’m fucked and that fucks you too, so fuck the world and you and you and you…” (Yuk Foo), while another she’s flapping endearingly about whether to include kisses at the end of a gushy text she probably won’t send (Don’t Delete the Kisses). This switching of styles would be a risk for most bands. With Roswell convincingly holding it all together, it’s one that Wolf Alice can confidently take.

Follow Playlist

Listen to more highlights from some of the best albums of 2017…
The Void Playlist – September 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – August 2017 Highlights

The Void Playlist – July 2017 Highlights
The Void Playlist – June 2017 Highlights
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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