50. James Blake – Barefoot In The Park
I stand by my rating of 6/10 for “Assume Form”, even though it has become a personal favourite, especially ‘Barefoot In The Park’. Featuring Spanish pop sensation, ROSALÍA, this wispy duet summons two worlds together, taking the influence of ROSALÍA’s intricate Spanish flourishes, mixing in Western Asian sounds for a love ballad of the Mediterranean, “Assume Form” at its best.
49. Talkboy – All Works Out
Talkboy rolled out their signature clashing of cycling harmonies and luscious soundscapes on ‘All Works Out’, chopping away at their love of indie rock with gleeful abandon, finding themselves plastered all over the Barclays Premier League coverage. A TV-ready song and now certified as such, Talkboy put themselves on the radar of the mainstream without even trying.
48. ODA – Don’t You Know
Crafting, sublime, silky smooth deep-pop music, ODA’s ‘Don’t You Know is sophisticated pop at its best. Charming and cool, plus perfectly suited for runways the world over, ‘Don’t You Know’ carries a level of finesse that appears to just pour out of ODA as if it’s no big deal whatsoever, and will surely see her become a more common name in 2020.
47. Julia Bhatt – Tall
With her lyrics focusing on subconscious issues with her own height, Bhatt’s deep and soulful vocals, carried across waves of jazz and Latin fuelled pop, show a teen who is full of insane potential. ‘Tall’ takes the rock influences of Bhatt’s mother and the steady yacht rock sound from her father, to create an illustrious pop song that is as carefree as the sea breeze and demonstrates her insane level of talent at just 17 years old.
46. Sundara Karma – Higher States
The poeticism behind Sundara Karma’s lyrics will never cast a dull moment over their music, even if frontman Oscar “Lulu” Pollock does sound as if he needs just one extra second to catch his breath. ‘Higher States’ cast a rapid-fire, blinding light of indie-pop at its sharpest point, no matter which way you looked at it, something new stood out with every listen, a truly magnificent piece of pop music.
45. Fat White Family – Feet
‘Feet’, breathed in new life to the indie-chists sound, reclaiming the blistering sweat of aggressiveness from their past, changing this into strangely acceptable dancing, finally ready to emerge from the gallows of Fat White Family. With the group’s ever-present chaotic poetry wrestling against a newly founded love of orchestral implements and electronica influences, ‘Feet’ was a welcomed return to their usual excellent form.
44. Linying – All of Our Friends Know
Blending pop and r&b sublimely on ‘All of Our Friends Know, Linying created a world of pastels being chased by the harsher colours of the real world. Taunting herself with the idea of embracing love, all while struggling with this realisation, fighting off her feelings with lines such as “I know when I’m faking and this feels like that”, Linying played both sides of the coin on this high-level display of duality in love.
43. El Mãnana – Seasons
On ‘Seasons’, El Mãnana brought back their expansive indie rock, cloacked in shoegaze and otherwordly ethereal ambience. A clustering of genres, all burnt with a tint of summery delights, ‘Seasons’ exploded in technicolour, all under the soft hue of purple shoegaze wonder.
42. Ist Ist – Jennifer’s Lips
Mixing monotone vocals with non-stopping guitars, ‘Jennifer’s Lips’ captures the classic essence of Manchester post-punk, now engraining a dirtier, grunge-tinged sound to make post-punk even more enchantingly grey with Ist Ist’s sensationally grey post-punk blend.
41. Thyla – Only Ever
Taken from their debut EP “What’s On Your Mind”, ‘Only Ever’ leaves no doubt in the mind that this is their strongest track to date as vocalist Millie Duthie gives out her signature roar, screaming at full power, while guitars whip up a total frenzy and drums go absolutely nuts, all while being boosted ever further by Dan’s bass, quietly digging away into your very being.
40. PACE – Hunt Me Down
A display of high art-pop, carefully constructing every word to sound as if the rest would fall apart if one were to fail; Pace sound untouchable on ‘Hunt Me Down’. Vocalist Adam Pavlocin transcends between baritone and tenor notes, reaching falsettos that lift ‘Hunt Me Down’ to an ethereal state, while pianist Adrian Cermak adds another level of artistry, gracefully playing his harmonium as though this London group were actually from the time of the European renaissance.
39. Gengahr – Everything & More
The whispy guitars of John Victor returned in full force on ‘Everything & More’ as Felix Bushe slowly creeps in with his eclectic vocals, making that signature Gengahr sound, with even more excitement. The expansion into math rock that has been uprooted by the dramatics of White Lies indie rock is truly spectacular, leaving nothing but excitement for “Sanctuary” next year.
38. Dorian Electra – Flamboyant
Houston artist Dorian Electra released the most ‘Flamboyant’ track of the year, jumping from being a semi-formulaic, neo-pop track, serious by nature and fun by action, into the most perfectly, bat-shit crazy piece of pop music released in a long time. The deadly serious nature of ‘Flamboyant’ makes its over the top, bizarre display all the more enticing and impossible to not fall in love with.
37. Mystery Jets – Hospital Radio
What was set to be one of the best LPs of 2019 was placed on hold, due to the unfortunate health complications of Blaine Harrison. However, Mystery Jets did grace us with ‘Hospital Radio’ before the release date of “A Billion Heartbeats” was pushed back. A six minute belter that soars from the calmest shores to the most violent of waves, ‘Hospital Radio’ was a vivacious display of indie rock at its best.
36. Champs – Shadow On The Sea
Providing a melancholic dance-along with ‘Shadow On The Sea’, CHAMPS ignite their haunting folk sound with the flare of 70’s disco and 90’s pop music, filled with high claps and dancing that doesn’t quite go the way you’d expect. The Champion brothers turn their sombre, melancholic pop into pure gold with ‘Shadow On The Sea’, a deprived state of mind turned solid pop song.
35. clipping. – Nothing is Safe
The masters of alternative hip-hop crafted a Halloween themed LP this year, carrying the dramatic opera that has filled their music for the past half a decade across onto ‘Nothing is Safe’; a warning that the demons lurking inside the shadows of the night are readying themselves to pounce for you. A truly terrifying experience from the word go, ‘Nothing is Safe’ will have you taunting yourself with the pleasure of uncontrollable fear.
34. Claudia Bouvette – I Don’t Like It
A Canadian pop artist who channels the BPM of UK drum and bass, Claudia Bouvette unleashed a charming storm of fast-paced pop music on ‘I Don’t Like It’. Inspired by a love of hip-hop and UK pop, Bouvette’s admiration for UK pop will undoubtedly score her massive points with D’n’B fans and UK juggernauts such as Chase and Status or Rudimental once she breaks out. Future collaborations with one of the two mentioned would appear to be almost inevitable just on the backing of ‘I Don’t Like It’.
33. dvd – Mouse Club
Dallas based David Lunsford tackles abusive relationships and the fear of some to leave on ‘Mickey Mouse Club’, because ‘who else could love you so black and blue?’. Glistened over with the correct amount of auto-tune to match his saturated synth hooks, dvd produces a solid sad-banger, so much so, that it was worth sharing a month after its release.
32. ONUR – Beautiful Time
With a uniquely modern take on r&b, Londoner ONUR continues to prove why the hype around him is justified on ‘Beautiful Time’. Utilising harsh electronica to sound like upbeat, chart-friendly noise; brass-styled, synth slices groove around a plethora of sounds, with vocal manipulations gathering as a final wave of trippy electro to tip ONUR’s R’n’B a step further than established names such as SOHN or HONNE.
31. Far Caspian – Conversations
Our top pick for 2019 and the Leeds group did fabulously with a stellar EP under their belts, which featured the glorious rhythms of ‘Conversations’. A step into more upbeat, joyous dreampop sounds, ‘Conversations’ pedalled away down a sunset covered street, before lifting off into the wondrous night sky, awe-inspiring in both sound and visualisation, courtesy of frontman Joel and his forever on point producing.
30. Honey Lung – Nothing
Gutting out ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ acoustic chords with a rapid injection of jutting guitar notes, blazing-fast and executed manically; ‘Nothing’ channels 90’s American pop-rock with pristine precision. Flowing carelessly from charming 90’s pop-rock to face-melting grunge rock in a moment, then spiralling to late 90’s indie, it was a momentous track from Honey Lung, projecting themselves forward as frontrunners to rule the ’20s.
29. Lucia & The Best Boys – Blue Heart
Lucia & The Best Boys come roaring into Blueheart like one of Romana’s evil exes from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, pissed off and ready to let you know. The melancholic reverb is dripping in pure disdain, as each guitar riff emits wave after wave of dreamy-post-punk à la shoegaze, readying Lucia to ride along before she unleashes a maelstrom of anger and pain on their biggest track yet.
28. Feral Family – The North
A reality check that has never heard of the term hedging, with consistent tempo changes and harsh, chunky guitar riffs amplifying the north’s need “for a new power”, Feral Family are ferociously pissed off on ‘The North’ and it’s more relatable than ever. With the north slowly crumbling outside of its biggest cities, Feral Family capture the mood of a nation that is tired and feels forgotten, ready to rise up and demand immediate change.
27. Still – Divinity
‘Divinity’ immerses itself in a guise of shoegaze, clanging away with dusty old guitars that are probably only a few years old, yet capture the essence of The Cranberries at their best. If you shut your eyes and listen, you’d swear that Still were a cult band from the late ’80s or ’90s that you’re lucky enough to have discovered before anyone could tell you about them.
26. Floral Shop – Anyplace
Venturing into a realm of music that crosses between post-punk and electronica, utilising dark synth hooks with guitar riffs that have been floating around since before Floral Shop was even a thing; ‘Anyplace’ welcomed lyrical maturity and auditory precision from a fresh-faced German group who embraced sexuality with an open mind, but ensured that the intimate nature of sexual-desire was left as ambiguous as possible.
25. Zinnia – Bullets
Call Gabrielle, Texas, Shania Twain, any female artist from the late ’90s to early ’00s and tell them Zinnia has taken note. ‘Bullets’ brought with it a level of precision, that goes almost completely unnoticed, lost underneath the weight of Zinnia’s immersive indie-pop/rock sound, carefully waiting for each moment to catapult ‘Bullet’s towards the godly ranks of some of pop’s greatest artists of the last 3 or so decades.
24. Màni Orrason – Privilege Of Time
On ‘Privilege of Time’, Orrason clashed with the idea of summer bringing joy and glorious weather to parade around in when facing the notion of having to do so without your significant other, “Why does summer come, when I want to cry?” ‘Privilege of Time, however, allows the joy of summer to burst through as Orrason utilises his light-hearted synths and sombre lyricism to create an upbeat sad banger that you should add to your summer playlist for next year if you haven’t already.
23. Girl Band – Going Norway
Trading lines about Nutella and aliens for medicine and balls, Girl Band’s lyricism on ‘Going Norway is as sharp as ever. “The Talkies” paraded Girl Band across our ears in glorious 3D, projecting, hallucinogenic auditory stimuli in the form of Dara Kiely screaming about what sounds like gibberish, yet is meticulously laid out nonsense. Carefully packaged with distorted guitars, filtered through one thousand effect pedals, all alluding to the idea that Girl Band are ‘serious’ musicians, the whimsical nature behind ‘Going Norway’s terrifying sound will never stop being enjoyable.
22. Oyster Kids – Losing My Mind
When Oyster Kids reemerged with ‘Losing My Mind’ the world of pop music felt grossly undermanaged, with most tracks before their return sounding like a 5/10 compared to the beyond impressive stature of an Oyster Kids track. Now more focused, tightened up and with a keen sense of direction, ‘Losing My Mind’ was a warning from the L.A four-piece, that nothing but the best pop music, will stand against them.
21. Gum Takes Tooth – Fight Physiology
Glitchy techno that’s brutal in execution and psychotically evil with its sharp blasts of shrieking electro, ‘Fight Physiology’ silenced the guitars of the world with an onslaught of electronica at its utmost finest. Charging up from ritualistic lines of code, before lashing out with violently unstoppable slices of electronica, ‘Fight Physiology’ obliterated the world of guitars and strings, demonstrating artificially crafted music to be a ravenous machine.
20. Super Paradise – 6:30
Obnoxious, overbearing and manic as hell, Super Paradise created a fucking gem with ‘6:30’. The video for ‘6:30’ is the version you need to properly listen to, as the visuals and auditory cuts placed in turn the track from a blast of garage rock into an experimental haven of the UK and all the sounds that go with this bizarre island.
19. Ørmstons – Can’t Take Your Call
Next year, if Ørmstons come to your city, town, or a festival near you, go see them. Jess Huxham is an absolute powerhouse who packs the power of rock’s most notable frontwoman throughout history, as ‘Can’t Take Your Call’ ends just as quickly as it begins, going full speed for two and a half minutes as Jess soars away on guitar riff after guitar riff of high calibre indie rock.
18. Lea Porcelain – I Am OK
The German duo switching from post-punk to a style of European-folk, dusted with British indie from the ’90s, sounded strange at first, but once Lea Porcelain released ‘I Am OK’, an ode to being as such, the grand sense of their almost other-worldly sounding post-punk came flooding back, fresh and invigorated with optimism and hope.
17. Pelicandy – You and Me Baby
A nirvana of indie-pop from the later ’00s to early ’10s, straight off the bat ‘You and Me Baby’ rocks up with a seductive bassline, partnered with a skittish sound pad and synth hooks just creeping in, waiting for the right moment to deliver that goosebump-inducing chorus. Once it hits, ‘You and Me Baby’ blasts off like the Klaxons fighting with Black Kids to see who wrote the best indie anthem of the late ’00s. Turns out it was actually Pelicandy with ‘You and Me Baby’ in 2019.
16. Luna Rosa – I In The Centre Of Pride
Luna Rosa is right on the edge of the UK working class and their traumas, fighting for equal treatment and for those in power to face justice. ‘I In The Centre Of Pride’ brings the disparity of social and financial economics in the UK to the forefront of their work, charging forward with their punk rock and the energy of a million-strong protest, stating loud and clear, we’ve fucking had enough.
15. Zooni – A Flat
There are very few bands that are willing to do what Zooni does. Taking their time to build momentum, trading boisterous riffs for dramatic displays of carefully crafted alternative rock, the likes of which draw a comparison to Radiohead at their earliest, ‘A Flat’ demonstrated the beauty of which Zooni is capturing and graciously sharing with us all.
14. Baula – February 2018
Karolina Thunberg and Ísak Ásgeirsson released a true behemoth of a track on ‘February 2018’; with a guitar riff that feels delightfully familiar to Joy Division on ‘Shadowplay’ at times. With a friendlier, synth-pop vibe overall, Baula completely blew their previous works out of the water and set a new standard for their work on ‘February 2018’.
13. FHAT – Packin’
With a finger snap rapidly clicking away from myself, while the drop that follows “so tell me are you packin’ or not boy?” is a tongue pop away from achieving every classic ‘gay’ gesture of the ’10s in one song, FHAT did the lords work on ‘Packin”, turning the objectifying lens of men onto men themselves, all while being lighthearted and respecting boundaries. It’s a ‘yaas’ from me.
12. FKA Twigs – Cellophane
In a bitterly, hate-fuelled sombre moment, FKA Twigs welcomed herself back with her re-birth on ‘Cellophane’, inviting us into the reality of the Londoners past media-flooded relationship. With a newly founded love in her pole dancing, Twigs cast her pain and anger into a breathtakingly beautiful display of high-art, spiralling down into the suffocating cesspit of the media, arising with the aid of black women helping to transform her sorrow into something that even Twigs wouldn’t have thought possible back in 2015.
11. Angie McMahon – Pasta
The most relatable song on this list for arguably everyone, Angie McMahon crooning about eating too much pasta, feeling lethargic and not wanting to do anything because you’re too depressed is a mood. The rest of her LP is filled with glorious, folk-pop, but ‘Pasta’ is her crowning moment and one of the best songs of the decade.
10. Charlotte Adigéry – High Lights
On ‘High Lights’, Charlotte Adigéry has one thing to say, other than how much she loves wigs. That is how little she cares that others don’t. The Belgian-Caribbean artist flaunted her way across a post-techno fused, R’n’B number, seizing the late ’80s, early ’90s style of New York electro-pop into a 21st-century ode to zero fucks, great wigs and even better music.
9. Wasuremono – Are You OK?
Even having released their second LP this year, Wasuremono were one of my best new finds this year, and ‘Are You OK?’ is the prime reason why. With an expansive chorus of layered harmonies, ‘Are You OK?’ carries the essence of an advertisement friendly song very well, however, reaching out a geniune hand filled with bright pop music, designed to lift even the greyest of moods.
8. The Golden Age Of TV – Caught In Doors
Penned as ‘geography teachers’ by some, labelled as alright by others and hailed as absolute beasts by myself, The Golden Age Of TV ran ahead of the competition kicking and screaming on ‘Caught In Door’s, thanks to some utterly ferocious drumming, truly ballistic guitar work and the unstoppable power packed behind frontwoman Bea Fletcher and her insane vocal performances.
7. Saltwater Sun – Blood
If 2020 doesn’t see Saltwater Sun become true breakout stars to a similar level that Wolf Alice achieved in 2014, then I won’t have done my job correctly. ‘Blood’ has safely labelled Saltwater Sun as leaders of the next generation of indie, swooping in with colossal waves of big-hitting guitar riffs which vocalist Jen Stearnes rides upon with an unquestionable level of grandeur and style.
6. Stats – Lose It
The first great song of 2019, London artist Stats grew tired of playing the supporting role, placing himself centre stage under the pseudonym of Stats and claiming his spot as one of the years brightest pop stars with ‘Lose It’. A steady pace of rolling synths and gentle guitar loops burst into an array of awe-inspiring synth-pop that kicked off 2019 in incredible fashion and will close out the decade in the same fashion.
5. Friendly Fires – Can’t Wait Forever
Ask my friend Hannah what song she would associate me with and it wouldn’t even take her a second to start going bah-bah-dah, before I joined in with the whistling electro cuts that littered the unstoppable beats of ‘Can’t Wait Forever’. Eight years was a long time to wait for Friendly Fires to share their third LP, yet the LP’s opener perfectly captured the dramatic build-up between “Pala” and “Inflorescent”.
4. Junaco – Willow
A towering air of calm surrounds Junaco on ‘Willow’, the likes of which have been largely unheard since Daughter’s early days. Gradually building with soaring choruses and crescendos that arrive like terrifyingly powerful tsunamis, ‘Willow’s packed far more than a punch, but left nothing but beauty and splendour in its path. Truly one of the most beautiful songs of the last ten years.
3. Le Boom & Æ MAK – Dancing Bug
The best collaboration of the year and an all Irish affair, Le Boom and Æ MAK had me singing and prancing along all summer to this absolute belter of a track. Combining Le Boom’s post-house, electro creativity with Æ MAK’s eclectic pop style was always going to create something special, and through the two (well three) combining their musings together, a ‘Dancing Bug’ was created, and I’m yet to be let loose from its sticky grasp.
2. Tall Saint – Warm Skin
The last song from Leeds’ Tall Saint on our list, the pop-stress has had an incredible year, releasing an array of empowering pop numbers that celebrate the ’00s, but none where quite as impressive as her love letter to the legendary pij (her cat), acclimating as a lovers letter to their significant other about how much they adore them and want them around. A truly amazing year for Tall Saint with much more to come in 2020, so I’ll finish this off with one more sentence. Long live the pij!
1. FEWS – More Than Ever
‘More Than Ever’ has been sat at the top of this list since it first came out. In every diary, piece of paper or mock list I’ve made, Fews have sat comfortably at #1 on each and every one. A truly anthemic post-punk masterpiece, the loss of empathy and FEWS’ “couldn’t care less because I’ve lost the will to care” attitude, was something they hoped no one would relate to, or at least not so strongly. Sadly for them, it was a tad too relatable, but secured comfort in knowing that in the bleakness of 2019’s greyest moments, others shared this and aspired to make a change.