It is that time of year when everyone looks back on the past 12 months. Here at Already Heard we have once again been blessed with some superb releases this year. That is why for this year’s Record of the Year list we have decided to cover more releases and highlighted the top 25 releases from 2015.
As always, the Already Heard team have discussed (and argued) to make a definitive list of album releases from the past year.
We are now down to the final five. Read on to find out what remaining albums made our list, and see which album we have crowned Record of the Year.
5. Pentimento – I, No Longer (Bad Timing)
We’ve quietly been keeping an eye on New York’s Pentimento for a number of years. Having grown in stature through word-of-mouth, they produced a career best (so far) in ‘I, No Longer’.
At its core is a heartbeat full of regret and loss. Whilst musically it is a well-balanced mix of soft, reflective moments (‘Gateaway’) and bold releases of satisfaction and relief (‘Sink or Swim’). Brimming with confidence throughout, ‘I, No Longer’ sees a band truly finding their feet and consistently provide a stream of satisfying songs.
From the harmonious and plucky ‘Clever Reason’ to the slow burning, twiddly ‘Got My Answer’ to the winding ‘Tiger Eye’ to the somber ‘Tell Me’, Pentimento provide a compelling and emotional narrative that flows with ease and resonates with subtle pride. A truly delightful record that deserves recognition. (SR)
4. The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Harmlessness (Epitaph)
While 2013’s ‘Whenever, If Ever’ firmly put The World Is A Beautiful Place… on the map, and in no small part helped define the “emo revival” the biggest conundrum would be just what the multi-faceted, hugely-talented collective would do next.
Signing to Epitaph was certainly out of left-field, representing further evidence of the punk rock institution’s own revival, yet would also also increase the excitement around one of the most anticipated returns of the year.
That ‘Harmlessness’ justifies the hype is one thing. That it transcends the group’s emo roots is another entirely. Songs such as ‘I can be Afraid of Anything’ display a craft and nuance not found in their previous releases, while the thematically dark ‘January 10th 2014’ – about a woman who takes revenge for rapes and murders on a bus route in Mexico, and that references cult podcast This American Life – shows the depths of research to which their songwriting is being influenced by larger social issues.
Tonally and musically it still retains the group’s playfulness; a back-to-front version of ‘Wendover’ released prior to the album’s launch further evidence of this creative and independent streak. Yet there’s a refinement and maturity running throughout which elevates ‘Harmlessness’ to greatness. Packed with emotive, powerful songs that often run contrary to convention and break the rules, there’s also an engaging tone that wills you to sing along and have fun.
Two years is a long time in music, but if 2013’s ‘Whenever, If Ever’ defined a genre, then 2015’s ‘Harmlessness’ ripped up the rulebook and turned the musical landscape on its head. Which, means we’re once again left asking: “What happens now?” (RM)
3. Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor (Cooking Vinyl/Loma Vista Recordings)
Marilyn Manson’s complete departure from his trademark gothic undertones came in the form of ‘The Pale Emperor’ – a genius invention of a dark, streetwise figure that you really wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.
The blues-y undertones and slow, foreboding footsteps of ‘Killing Strangers’ showcase Manson in a whole new threatening light, before heralding the return of his trademark religious denunciations through the livid earworm ‘Deep Six’. The menacing authority of ‘The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles’ and the smooth groove of ‘Cupid Carries A Gun’ prove this is the release Manson should’ve conjured up years ago.
Even the acoustic rendition of ‘Mephistopheles…’ titled ‘Fated, Faithful, Fatal’ showcases shock rock’s ‘Pale Emperor’ back on sparkling top form, with atmospheric effects and gloomy vocals suited perfectly to provide a soundtrack to a very dodgy biker bar in the American south. Just be wary of the intimidating figure in the dark corner, keeping his eyes firmly set on your every move. (AC)
2. The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven (Hopeless Records)
Few records this year have been waxed lyrical over to quite the extent of ’No Closer To Heaven’. That’s with damned good reason, and it’s no surprise to see our favourite Philadelphia natives come so close to taking the top spot.
It would be a stretch to say this record saw The Wonder Years reinvent themselves, but that they were able to create an album that takes the listener on quite such a crushing emotional ride, or set a new standard for how sincere and conscience prickling a pop-punk album can be, stopped fans and critics dead in their tracks.
Soupy and his bandmates created a staggering juxtaposition of songs that are both unapologetically bleak and battered by life but nonetheless powerfully uplifting. Not only is ’No Closer To Heaven’ easily the most complete, complex and musically rewarding of The Wonder Years’ career to date; it tackles head on America’s most secular and spiritually bemused and disillusioned generation yet in a way a pop-punk has never had the brains or the nerve to do before. (DW)
1. Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit (Sony/Columbia/RCA)
When you look at how far Bring Me The Horizon have come since emerging from their Sheffield home over ten years, ‘That’s The Spirit’ is some achievement. Having been one of metal’s most loathed bands, their rise has been miraculous with ‘That’s The Spirit’ serving as a career highlight and simultaneously marking the next step in BMTH’s evolution.
Through its larger-than-life tone, ‘That’s The Spirit’ is an expansive, subtly diverse record that delivers pure satisfaction from start to finish. Beginning with the powerful ‘Doomed’ and ending with the celebratory tone of ‘Oh No’, thunderous songs like ‘Happy Song’, ‘Throne’ and ‘Avalanche’ serve as straight up monstrous rock songs that demand to be sung in unison by massive crowds.
Whilst lyrically Oli Sykes takes on subject matters such as disloyalty, addiction, intolerance and dealing with expecations. It is these expectations that have continued to rise with each release from BMTH. Sure the bands sound has taken a questionable shift but you can’t fault the consistency that ‘That’s The Spirit’ delivers. Everything they have delivered beforehand has led up to this moment.
‘That’s The Spirit’ is a record that has a purpose and is delivered with complete and utter confidence. Through their broaden, grandiose approach, ‘That’s The Spirit’ has the potential to change UK rock in the coming years. It’s potential influence is as enormous as the album itself sounds.
Bring Me The Horizon were the underdogs that refused to give up. Now they’re on top and with a record that truly exceeded expectations. Congratulations boys. (SR)
Words by Sean Reid (SR), Dane Wright (DW), Ali Cooper (AC), and Rob Mair (RM).