Sunday 13 December 2015

Albums of 2015

Welcome to the bit of the blog that always happens in December where we write about our favourite albums of the year.

For the last few years we’ve listed 15 records that we’ve enjoyed from the previous 12 months but this year we’re cutting it down to 10. Why? Because the longer the list, the less it says about the records at the bottom. Would you really be interested in hearing someone’s 49th favourite record or their 87th of the year? We wouldn’t. What does it say about a record at number 50 in a top 50 list if the listener has only heard 60 newly released albums that year? Not a lot. We’ve listened to just over 80 albums released this year, so 10 from that amount seems reasonable to us. 

Of course some people object to putting albums in a numerical order, as they feel uncomfortable with the idea of turning music into some sort of competitive sport. We have no problem in doing this because every year there are certain records that we prefer over other ones and so a numerical order is a simple way to express that. Doing the 'here's a bunch of albums we enjoyed but we're not going to rank them' is a bit limp really isn't it? (Just don't ask us to name our favourite album of all time, because then we become a bit pathetic and mutter something about being impossible to choose / too much good music in a lifetime etc)

Our difficulty has always been defining what constitutes and defines a favourite. Is it just a gut instinct? If it is, then don’t gut instincts change over time? So an album of the year list based purely on instinct is only relevant on the day it was written. Or is a favourite record one you play a lot over the course of a defined time, possibly more than any other? Last year we calculated our ‘favourite’ by tallying the number of times we played the album and then adjusted the play count for the number of months since we first heard it. We played Dead by Young Fathers, Evergreen by Broods and the debut album by Honeyblood way more than any other record released in 2014 and so they topped our list. 

This year we’ve calculated our favourite again (if we’re going to make a numbered list, then let’s use numbers to calculate the list as well) based on number of plays, but then we’ve also adjusted the output figures by a gut instinct / emotional connection factor as well. It actually didn’t change the position of the top 3 records, but further down the list, some that have been played less often than others found themselves higher up the list, because sometimes these records only suit a particular time, place, mood or atmosphere and hence get played less even although they’re brilliant.

So tomorrow we start posting our 10 favourite records of 2015, two a day at 8.30am and 13.00pm GMT for the next 5 days. Of the records on our list, only 2 are debuts, 7 are UK based acts, 6 of the acts have featured on our previous albums of the year lists and 4 were on previous Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch lists.

Here’s a recap of our previous number 1s.

2014 - Young Fathers - Dead

2013 - Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe

2012 - Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

2011 - The Unthanks - Last

2010 - The National - High Violet

2009 - Blue Roses - Blue Roses

2008 - Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

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