Last year's playlist was sadly very small, and with the strong start this year, I expected something longer this year. It didn't really materialize though, as the second half of the year didn't really generate a lot of gee-whiz music for me.
What did work out was that this was another very strong year for albums worth listening to, end-to-end. I say this every year, but I really enjoy listening to one thing for 40+ minutes, as a cohesive work. I still listen to Wolf Alice's Blue Weekend from last year at least once a week.
The albums were a mix of meh and wow. I picked up Halsey's previous album because I loved last year's. Chvrches made a half-good album, with a surprising guest vocal from Robert Smith of The Cure. Metric and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs released new albums, and I was hoping for a revival of their 2009 works. Both are mixed bags, and not as strong as those previous albums. Not in this list is Metric's song "Doomscroller," which is pretty ambitious.
But the big story of course was Tears For Fears' The Tipping Point. I didn't even know it was in the pipe, and I got it free because I bought tickets to see them and Garbage. By the second pass, I was completely enamored with it. It's so good. If you take out the solo Roland albums in between, this album, with the first three, constitute an amazing body of work. The new one is very much them, but older and wiser. It's fantastic, maybe the best of their career.
But the year really belonged to female bands, with so many great albums. Out of nowhere comes Wet Leg with their debut, and it's full of catchy not-too-serious song with noisy guitars, some literal screaming and constant joy. It's a little short, but still great.
The Regrettes' Further Joy took a bit of a pop turn for them, but it's their best so far. Maggie Rogers, who was little more than a name I heard, made an amazing work in Surrender. My favorite party duo, Sofi Tukker, released the super fun Wet Tennis.
Rounding out the list, I added some tracks from two musicals that were new to us this year. Six is more performance art project concept album of pop music than a musical, but it's a lot of fun to see live, and a solid listen as well. Hadestown we just saw a few weeks ago, and I'm completely enamored with it. It's based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a tragedy, and it's one of those long running projects conceived by one person, Anaïs Mitchell, that impossibly made it to the stage.
There are a handful of interesting singles sprinkled in the list as well. I think part of the problem still might be discovery, as far as the size of my list. I'm just not listening in the right places to regularly hear new things.