#19. The Magic Whip – Blur
It’s been 12 years since the last Blur album. 12 years that’s been marked by accelerated technological development, glitz and a popular culture that is the antithesis of the mood that alt-rock bands like Blur and its ilk purveyed. The Magic Whip is Damon Albarn and Co’s viewing glass into this world that we live in, and spoiler alert: they’re not exactly taken by it. Continuing themes from Everyday Robots, Albarn’s 2014 solo project, the LP bleaches the neon glamour of our smartphone-driven culture, seeking to lay bare the ennui. Sometimes soft, sometimes grand, The Magic Whip is often unsure of its purpose; but given the mood of the album , I wonder if it wasn’t deliberate.
18. American Beauty/American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
Stadium rock. meet hip-hop . Now both of you, meet the new Fall Out Boy. You’ll all get along splendidly. Perfecting the formula they hit upon with Save Rock & Roll, FOB takes the tight, razor-sharp structures of hip-hop and layers it with high-octane guitars, pounding drums and soaring choruses to deliver visceral, anthemic, rock that can only be described as a shot of pure adrenaline. American Beauty/American Psycho is magnificent, and chaotic. Subtle it is not, but the trade-off for nuance is that every emotion on display here is cranked up to a million. And honestly, I see little reason to come down from the high.
#17. Compton – Dr Dre
Goddamn Dre, where have you been? This album isn’t (the now-scrapped) Detox, but that scarcely matters. Compton is an event all in itself, and the good Doctor shows the listener why he should never be forgotten as a musician and producer. Truly a West Coast project, Dre employs a number of his protegees, from Snoop Dogg and Eminem, to Game and Kendrick, as well as newer entrants like Anderson.Paak, to recount an epic tale of his hometown, from its darkest holes to its most hopeful beacons. His lyrics may be ghost-written, but Dre’s incredible mic presence and grit are a force to be reckoned with. Ultimately though, it isn’t a Dr Dre album without the impeccable production. It isn’t the absolute innovator that projects like the Chronic have been, but that doesn’t change the fact that few albums coalesce the current sound with the curator’s stamp as well as Compton does. Dre finally seems to have said all that he needs to say, and I’m glad he chose to make this statement on wax.
Listen To: Talk About It, Deep Water