1. Falling in Reverse – Coming Home
“Coming Home” becomes frontman Ronnie Radke’s gateway to tell stories of inner-turmoil, betrayal, heartache, and his desire to become closer to his daughter.
It focuses on having a more polished and heavy attitude.
Radke’s melodies hit exceptional highs, and soft-hearted lows during songs like “Bad at Life”. Lyrically, the album is headstrong and playfully egotistical. “Loser” and “Coming Home” are straightforward, while “Straight to Hell” is more symbolic. I am utterly impressed by the improvement unmistakably present in “Coming Home”.
2. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
Harry shattered his silence returning with a brilliant, self-titled 10-track album. While seductive and sensitive, the tracks stand proudly on their own. While some songs on the album feel delicate, like “Sweet Creature” or “Ever Since New York”, they remain powerful compositions. Songs like the hypnotizing “Woman” and sassy “Kiwi” are practically songs from generations prior, heavy on the flirtatious rock and roll vibe. The album’s energy easily sets a mood.
3. PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
In “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell”, frontwoman Lynn Gunn vents about pain that she bottled in her heart throughout her growing career.
While we are familiar to Lynn’s odes of sorrow, she leads us into a different direction with this new narrative of surmounting sadness.
The sound of AWKOHAWNOH may appeal best to lovers of electronica, alternative, and indie rock; although, it has a neutral sound that can appeal to anyone. Recommended songs include: “Heaven,” “What’s Wrong,” “Nola 1,” and “Winter”. Lynn’s clear voice is confident, even when soft spoken. Sanguine and haunting, it stood as the best album to wrap up my summer.
4. XXXTENTACION – 17
Soundtracks on “17” are like excerpts from a pain-ridden diary pages with sorrowful and dismal testimonies.
Having heard soul-shattering “Jocelyn Flores”, I knew the path that “17” was going to take. Regardless, the album is a pleasing mix of rap and vocals, including samples of piano, guitar, and lightweight beats. “Dead Inside” and “Depression & Obsession” remain simple, but heavy-hearted tracks. Shiloh Dynasty’s features singing alongside X’s raps, adding the cherry on top to the melodic and melancholy vibe of songs like “Carry On”.
5. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex
The vintage romantic compositions strung together by “Cigarettes After Sex” had me tangled upon first listening their self-titled masterpiece. Simple and dreamy, they are labeled as a shoegazing and ambient pop group complemented by frontman Greg Gonzalez’s androgynous voice. “K” and “Sweet” are wistful ballads; songs like “Our Last Day” are more fast paced alt-country soundtracks. The album stays true to giving us a taste as sweet and slow as molasses mixed with energetic and lightweight.
6. Kendrick Lamar – Damn.
Probably the most powerful rap album of the year, Kendrick preaches in “DAMN.” He implements his talents of being artistic, poetic, thoughtful, and inspiring all together. The overall sound is nostalgic, belonging to the mid-1990s. Kendrick Lamar is fearless, highlighting issues addressed in “HUMBLE,” “ELEMENT,” and “DNA.” One could feel themselves fall in love all over again with the artistry of Kendrick Lamar’s unconventional raps.
7. Taylor Swift – Reputation
Reputation is a variety of flavors, each song standing as a flag of conquer. Songs like “Look What You Made Me Do, “End Game,” and “King of My Heart” are undeniable bops. This album is empowering and ego-stroking when channeling one’s inner Taylor. As a former country artist, she’s come far from her debut becoming the endearing Regina George of pop music.
8. After Laughter – Paramore
Contradictory with the blend of sadness and the string upbeat pop rock sounds, Paramore returns with “After Laughter.”
“Rose-colored Boy,” “Fake Happy,” and “Hard Times” made me want to dance while being sad. There are heavy vibrant 80s pop-rock influences throughout. Regardless, there comes a sense of being able to recover from anything.
9. The XX – I See You.
When “I See You” was released, the traces of dream and indie pop were still there. Refreshing and nostalgic, The XX had only reshaped their sound to be slightly more electric and energetic. “On Hold” and “I Dare You” brings back memories of their debut self-titled album. “I See You” is rich and romantic, leaving you in a trance. More often than not, their music has always been ideal for daydreaming.
10. Kesha – Rainbow
Leaving behind the dollar-sign in her name and her vile former producer Dr. Luke, she’s free of the shackles she was once bound to. Having released “Praying” first, I was left in literal tears. “Woman” personifies strength and recovery. Some songs are just dumb-fun like “Boots.” While Kesha hasn’t entirely abandoned the sing-talk style, she shows off by flexing her toned vocal chords. “Rainbow” is certainly a kaleidoscope of musical creativity.