5. Gwenno, Le Kov (Heavenly)
Best remembered as a member of the Pipettes, a band whose first album I still adore, Gwenno Saunders kicked off her solo career in 2015 with Y Dydd Olaf. A jaw-dropping sci-fi concept album sung primarily in Welsh that mined the innovative sounds of such art rock legends as Can, Stereolab, and Broadcast, it was a stunning piece of work that showed how talented and truly unique a progressive rock/experimental auteur Gwenno could be. It was one of my favourite albums of that year. Three years later, Gwenno’s follow-up continued to develop her unique, ebullient kraut-pop, but her language of choice this time around is Cornish, which she grew up speaking, and which she felt was her duty to help preserve the obscure language. With the help of collaborator and producer Rhys Edwards and Super Furry Animals members Gruff Rhys and Gorwel Owen, Le Kov feels a lot richer musically, as Saunders continues to exhibit enormous talent when it comes to creating dreamy, otherworldly soundscapes, gracefully alternating between pulsating (“Tir Ha Mor”) to playful (“Daromres y’n Howl”). You’d think that such an ambitious album inspired by a language at risk of extinction would be laced with gravitas, but Gwenno charms the listener time and again. Hell, at one point she sings about cheese, because of course she can: “Is there cheese? / Is there or isn’t there? / If there’s cheese, bring cheese.” What’s not to love about that? After all, there’s always room for cheese in one’s life, just as there’s always room for great new music.