As we approach the midway point of the year and the end of my two years as music editor of Brig, it’s time to highlight some of the best albums that have been released in the first half of 2019.
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
One of the most exciting artists of our generation, and someone I’ve been a fan of since the release of her first EP don’t smile at me in 2017, Billie Eilish finally released her debut album in March. Produced and co-written with her brother Finneas, there’s almost a grubby intimate edge to it. From the intro where they joke about her taking out her mouthpiece to some of the whispered, crackling vocals, it is one of the most original albums released in years. Defying genre, it jumps from hit single ‘bad guy’ and its thumping bass to quiet ballad tracks like ‘i love you’. The quirky, relatable lyrics showcase her ability to speak to the masses about topics like love and addiction while never losing her unique identity.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next
Hot off the heels of 2018’s Sweetener, and some significant personal tragedy, one of the most streamed artists of all time released the follow-up extraordinarily quickly. This deeply personal album is her best to date, not only because of its raw honesty but because there was no room for any “filler” tracks on an album that was produced so fast. Building on the R&B style of her aforementioned fourth studio album, there is no denying that this is a polished pop album. However, what makes it stand out is the raw honesty of the lyrics on tracks like ‘ghostin’. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as proven by the number one singles it has already produced – ‘thank u, next’, ‘7 rings’ and ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored’.
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
The American rapper/singer/flautist released an album that blends genres including hip-hop, trap, pop and R&B, Lizzo has created an album full of infectious and uplifting songs that will be stuck in your head long after you finish listening. From lead single ‘Juice’ to ‘Truth Hurts’ (that you may have heard on the Netflix film Someone Great), she has managed to create funky music full of positive messages and her infectious humour that never becomes over-bearing or corny in the process.
Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
With her previous album EMOTION being the critical darling it was, there was a lot of pressure on her for the follow up. She’s managed to achieve that with this new collection of disco-infused pop music. While she belts much less than she did on the last album, her catchy, sincere lyrics shine through the elegant production. Highlights include the synth-infused “ode to one that got away”, ‘Julien’; the chanted ‘For Sure’ and ‘The Sound’ which has one of the strongest hooks on the album. The whole album is experimental pop at its finest.
MARINA – Love & Fear
After taking a few years away from the spotlight, Marina Diamandis returned to music with this more restrained follow-up to Froot. An album about emotions, you’d think that the Fear side of the album would have darker lyrics and production but instead it shows that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Stripped back from the bubblegum pop she became known for, this album showcases a new, more mature sound. There are still catchy pop hooks, like on the summery anthem ‘Orange Trees’ but they sit alongside reflective tracks like ‘Soft to be Strong’ and the haunting ‘Believe in Love’.
Other albums to give a listen:
Khalid – Free Spirit
Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt. 1
Lewis Capaldi – Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent
This is just the tip of the iceberg, with several more albums expected to be released later in the year from the likes of Rihanna, The 1975 and Lana Del Rey to name but a few. 2019 is definitely shaping up to be an exciting year for music!