The Crimson Arts board lauds the top 10 albums of 2015, based on our college-wide survey.
This year saw the release of “I Love You, Honeybear,” the second album recorded by Josh Tillman under the stage name Father John Misty. The former Fleet Foxes member takes on the odd mantle of maturity: The titular track is about love against a background of familial and global dysfunction; “Bored in the USA” examines adulthood’s difficulties in Recession-era America; “I Went to the Store One Day” is a paean to married life. The mixture of tongue-in-cheek and sincerity marks “Honeybear” as one of the subtlest albums of 2015 and sets a high standard for Tillman’s future work. —Jude D. Russo
With their second studio album “Caracal,” Disclosure continues to provide a unique blend of dance and pop. While at times the electronic beats feel conventional, the duo shines at key moments by creating orchestrations well-suited to their featured artists’ styles. “Magnets,” featuring the soulful vocals of Lorde, is mellow with jolting percussion and soft croons, while “Nocturnal” contains house beats and a dark melody that almost harkens back to the days of “Thriller”—a fitting musical companion to Jackson-esque The Weeknd, who provides vocals for the song. Through such tracks, “Caracal” proves to be an animated foray into electronica. —Ha D.H. Le
Not content to rest on past laurels, Tame Impala once again proves its mettle as a preeminent psych-rock act with July’s “Currents.” The album, the band’s third, represents a departure from Tame Impala’s former guitar-heavy style and its aesthetic of isolation and remove, but the group’s previous musical virtuosity is still present in full force. The quality of “Currents” is consistently high; even so, standouts include the funky-yet-menacing “The Less I Know the Better” as well as album opener “Let It Happen,” a throbbing, almost disco-esque number. Founder and frontman Kevin Parker’s high, faraway croon immerses the listener in the album’s carefully constructed soundscapes, which manage to be enveloping and atmospheric while still allowing the band’s genius for catchy riffs to show through. —Adriano O. Iqbal
Listening to Marina and the Diamonds’ new release, “Froot,” feels like wandering through a candy store. The album is full of sugary synths, jittery beats, and deliberately artificial, autotuned harmonies; each track is colorfully, slickly packaged, with Marina Diamandis’s haunting vocals overlaying it all. “Froot” and “Blue” are classic dancehall songs (“Give me one more night… Let’s do it one last time”), but Diamandis, the one-woman force behind Marina and the Diamonds, manages to lift even darker tracks such as “I’m A Ruin” into thumping, chrome-plated anthems with a distinctly La-Roux-like flair. And yet the record has an edge that belies its glossy-sweet finish; “Better Than That” begins, “You’re just another in a long line of men she’s screwed / just another in a long line of men she knew,” and “Savages” ruminates on the human capacity for violence. Quietly subversive, subtly thought-provoking, and overtly out for a good time, “Froot” is a night-out kind of record that is nevertheless utterly listenable anywhere, anytime. —Lien E. Le
Take clean, booming, and energetic beats. Add in a pinch of profound, emotional lyrics. Throw in a dash of spirited yet tender vocals. Mix all of these elements together, and the result is “Every Open Eye” by Chvrches, in which the synthpop group again asserts its ability to produce distinctive, infectious music. “Every Open Eye,” the band’s second studio album, strikes a sweet balance between the fun and the thoughtful, fluidly transitioning from the lively rhythm of the opener “Never Ending Circles” to the somber, yet hopeful, closing song “Afterglow.” From start to finish, it’s a musical treat—a fitting addition to the acclaimed repertoire of the Scottish electronic band. —Ha D.H. Le
Though Sufjan Stevens’s newest album has been compared to 2004’s “Seven Swans” for the slow, minor melodies they have in common, “Carrie and Lowell” has a velvety richness perhaps better likened to beloved tracks such as “Futile Devices” (from “The Age of Adz”) and “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” (from “Illinois”), with their sweet, resonant instrumentation. Stevens, known for his inventive and poignant lyrics, has outdone himself on “Carrie and Lowell”; he describes his own childhood—and particularly his relationship with his mother, Carrie—in verses both precious and conversational. Married with pinprick-specific references to “Casper the ghost,” “lemon yoghurt,” and a swimming teacher who called him “Subaru” are lines like “Fuck me, I’m falling apart” that are at once deeply personal and utterly universal. —Mia J.P. Gussen