7 of the Best: New Albums in 2015

7 of the Best: New Albums in 2015

With apologies to Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late, Tame Impala's Currents and all the other great new albums we have unavoidably missed out: our tour of 2015's finest takes us from veteran producer Mark Ronson to newly mainstream Foals. True, you're probably going to disagree with a few of our choices. But then that's half the fun, isn't it?

Jamie xx, In Colour

Some thought Jamie xx's debut solo album reinvented early rave in a unique, intimate way; others called In Colour a simplified repackaging of unoriginal dance-pop ideas. For me, it is a wide-eyed and almost childlike take on old themes, making for one of the most enjoyable, and intriguing, listens of the year.

Early 90s UK dance music gets a new lease of life, and a perked-up stroll from the steel drums of Obvs to the US-friendly rap battle of I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times) leaves In Colour as out-on-its-own as The xx sounded when they exploded onto the scene in 2009. Joel Robertson

Mark Ronson, Uptown Special

Straining with the weight of performers, lyric-writers and collaborators too many to list, Uptown Special presents a pop conundrum that grooves and glides with grace and ingenuity. The album's stand-out track, Uptown Funk, was released late last year but still hasn't gone away; the rest of the album grows together the more you listen to it. It won't end up a classic, but Uptown Special deserves more than a couple of spins. Joel Robertson

Gaz Coombes, Matador

20 years on from the iconic Britpop song Alright hitting number 2 in the UK charts, former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes has found his second life sweet spot. Matador is the work of a mature performer, a man who has moved beyond the jaunty cruise of his youth, producing a record that shows just how good a songwriter Coombes is. Matador is easily the best music Coombes has ever made, and a Mercury Prize nomination is apt recognition. Joel Robertson

Seinabo Sey, Pretend

With a voice that demands attention from the first word to the last, Seinabo Sey explores layers of life and love with contrasting moods, and with an emotional complexity that is both familiar and expansive.

Like all worthy soul-pop, Pretend masterfully covers the entire spectrum of the heart. Feelings of reflection seep through Hard Time, while conflict arises in Pistols At Dawn and You beautifully encapsulates human yearning and hope. Pretend is a constant surprise in variation of sound, from the fierceness of the title track to the chilling flow of Sorry and the boldness of River.

Be sure to check out all three versions of the track Younger: Sey's bravery in including multiple versions of the same song is well rewarded, with a remix by Kygo and an enchantingly intimate acoustic version particularly fantastic. Cynthia Franklin

Susanne Sundfør, Ten Love Songs

For your average music snob, overt pop often gets overlooked as a credible genre. But Susanne Sundfør's sixth album Ten Love Songs is testament to the fact that pop music can be challenging and full of depth.

Set in motion by gut-wrenching opener Darlings, this album is both tragic and beautiful. What stands it apart from other synth-pop offerings is the ability of each song to maintain its own mood, whilst seamlessly fitting with the overall palette of the album.

Ten Love Songs is a kaleidoscope of tracks that often mixes orchestral arrangements with dancefloor rhythms, and Sundfør has since revealed that the album was originally meant to be about violence, before morphing into a project about love.

Personal favourites include the unapologetic seduction of Delirious, the many shades of Accelerate, and the floaty dreams of Slowly. Cynthia Franklin

Foals, What Went Down

Foals seem to have finally found a sound they're comfortable in. From the math-pop excellence of Antidotes to the glittering Total Life Forever and the flirting forcefulness of Holy Fire: their previous three albums were loved for their unpredictability, but What Went Down has closed up all the gaps.

There are still pop-centric moments (Mountain at my Gates) as well as melancholic ballads (London Thunder), but everything is beefed up a notch or two – so much so that when it explodes, it blows the roof off. The title track and album opener takes the foundations laid by 2013 single Inhaler and sticks them into overdrive. As frontman Yannis Philippakis has said, What Went Down is as true to themselves as Foals have ever sounded. Luke Nightingale

Hot Chip,
Why Make Sense?

Indie electro-poppers Hot Chip have been filling dancefloors across the UK for more than 15 years now – if you haven't lost yourself at an indie disco to Over and Over, then you obviously haven't been to an indie disco. Why Make Sense?, their sixth album, mixes the classic Hot Chip sound that we've grown to love with more of a groove-infused funk edge, resulting in 45 minutes that weave together perfectly, making total sense and producing a few surprises along the way. Luke Nightingale


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