We’re a little over halfway through 2011, and we’ve already been blessed with some incredible music. And while we still have albums from Drake, Jay-Z and Kanye, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and (possibly) OutKast to look forward to, allow me to give you a quick rundown of my top 5 albums of 2011 thus far.
Pick these records up if you haven’t already, and let us in on some of your personal faves below.
James Blake – James Blake
James Blake’s self-titled debut studio album is a haunting, immersive listen. Ridiculously hyped prior to its release this past February, the album features an intoxicating (and genuinely original) mixture of laid back dubstep and haunting R&B. Blake utilizes repetition and general sonic wizardry to hypnotic effect, and finds a way to marry icy, minimalistic electronics with a warm, confessional aura. “Lindesfarne I + II” is gorgeous.
Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
Easily the most divisive artist of the year, OFWGKTA’s Tyler, the Creator is at the very least 2011’s king of controversy. His songs revel in rape and murder, his group’s shows and appearances routinely descend into chaos, and he twitter-beefs like it’s his job. But don’t get it twisted; Goblin is a horrifying, fascinating and accomplished album. He anchors his demented, infuriating (and chilling) rhymes with stunning musicianship; haunting synths, murky basslines, and unexpected twists and flourishes abound throughout. Tyler may be the king of controversy, but he’s also the reigning evil genius of hip hop. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Lady Gaga – Born This Way
Gaga’s Born This Way was marketed and released like a big-budget summer blockbuster, and sold over a million copies in its first week. But then the initial fanfare subided and sales began to slide. Of course, the uber-hype surrounding Lady Gaga had been undergoing a slow-death for about 6-8 months now, culminating in Born This Way‘s third week on the charts, when Adele’s steady and unstoppable 21 regained its number one spot (after having been on the charts for months). With all the bandwagon jumpers moving on to greener, racier, hipper pastures, what we’re left with is Gaga’s music. Fortunately, its fucking amazing. Born This Way reflects all of the awesome things about summer blockbusters; its big, ambitious, over-the-top and (key word) fun. “Marry The Night” is beyond epic, “Government Hooker” is grade A sleaze, and “You + I” will have you raising a drink in one hand and a lighter in the other. Best pop album of the year, hands down.
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
Abel Testfaye’s The Weeknd released House of Balloons as a free mixtape in March of 2011. By the end of the month, the buzz surrounding this record was deafening, and it hasn’t died down yet. House of Balloons is the most stunning debut album of the year, and easily the best R&B album since The Dream’s Love Vs. Money. The key to its success is the albums relentlessly cohesive, seductive, atmospheric sound, offering a spacy, drugged-out backdrop for tales of seedy loft parties and cocaine fueled romps. House of Balloons is as addictive as the drugs and booze that its content is steeped in; fascinating in its mystery and darkness. This is the future of R&B.
Adele – 21
Honestly, what more can be said about 21? Fuck it…I’ll let Adele explain.