The 2017 Album of the Year












1. Zola Jesus, Okovi (Sacred Bones)

Nika Rosa Danilova has been flirting with greatness for the past decade, her unique blend of darkwave and Kate Bush-derived art pop establishing her as a burgeoning talent over the course of five albums. She’s come close, from 2010’s bold Stridulum II, to 2011’s beautiful Conatus, to 2013’s superb Versions. 2014’s Taiga left me feeling a little cool, mainly because I kept expecting phenomenal music rather than merely “pleasing”. Perfection always felt within her grasp, which has always been a big reason why I’m drawn to her music. Her soaring, powerful alto voice lends great strength to her dark-toned arrangements, and that combination of voice, instrumentation, and songwriting reaches a new peak on Okovi, Danilova’s strongest work to date. Songs like “Soak”, “Witness”, and “Siphon” touch on dark themes, but a sense of empathy constantly lurks underneath the seeming bleakness. Detecting a sense of humanity is always a challenge when it comes to music this stark, but aided by sterling production and gorgeous string arrangements, not to mention a sensational vocal performance, Okovi’s visceral power is undeniable. It’s particularly ironic that on a record whose Latvian title translates as “shackles”, Zola Jesus sounds liberated. Reflective of both a year that saw society crumble and a personal year where I discovered new happiness, Okovi’s impeccable balance between light and shade makes this a very easy choice for Album of the Year.

  1. Zola Jesus, Okovi (Sacred Bones)
  2. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rest (Because Music)
  3. Pallbearer, Heartless (Profound Lore)
  4. Partner, In Search of Lost Time (You’ve Changed)
  5. Paramore, After Laughter (Fueled By Ramen)
  6. Spirit Adrift, Curse of Conception (20 Buck Spin)
  7. Queens of the Stone Age, Villains (Matador)
  8. Biblical, The City That Always Sleeps (New Damage)
  9. Goldfrapp, Silver Eye (Mute)
  10. Haim, Something to Tell You (Polydor)