Continuing to look back at some of my favourite albums released earlier this year, this time I’ll take a look at the month of February. A month where everything seemed normal, it was the calm before the storm, as the full impact of COVID-19 lurked around the corner. Donald Trump was being impeached, Parasite won Best Picture at the Oscars, Storm Denis hit the UK, and the world was still in self-destruct mode. But alas, there was new music. This month saw the return of The Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, Tame Impala coming back after five years, and a blisttering second album from Liverpudlian band Loathe, not to mention new albums from The Amity Affliction, Grimes, Green Day, and King Krule, just to name a few.
Here I’ll take a look back at my top five-
Loathe – I Let It in and It Took Everything
On their second album ‘I Let It in and It Took Everything’, the Liverpudlian band Loathe expand their sound to new heights, elloquently blending heavy music with beautiful soundscapes. Deftones fans will immediately notice the influence of Chino Moreno on lead vocalist Kadeem France, the range of raspy and melodic vocals of the singer are impressive throughout, whilst guitarists Erik Bickerstaffe and Connor Sweeney, and drummer Sean Radcliffe, use their own influences to provide a meticulous and stunning melting pot of sounds. The album weaves between nu-metal and Djent, to prog and black metal with ease, showcasing the bands far-reaching talents, and firmly putting them on the map as one of the UK’s most exciting bands right now.
Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
It’s been five years since the last Tame Impala record ‘Currents’, an album that elevated Kevin Parkers band into the mainstream, with high profile Glastonbury slots and a headline set at Coachella following on from the release. Since then, Parker has branched out to collaborate with other musicians, helping with the production on Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’ and songwriting with Lady Gaga, to name a few. Using this time to learn and push himself as a musician, the resulting five years have culminated in ‘The Slow Rush’, Parkers most honest and personal album to date.
Tracks such as ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’, where Parker delves into the loss of his father whom he had a complicated relationship with, show how lyrically revealing and open the album is, “Wanna tell you ’bout the time I was in Abbey Road/Or the time that I had Mick Jagger on the phone/I thought of you when we spoke/Wanna tell you ’bout the time/Wanna tell you ’bout my life/Wanna play you all my songs/Hear your voice sing along.” Musically, the album follows on from previous releases, Parker effortlessly moving into his awe-inspiring psychedelic and hazy electronic grooves, the combination of the two like sonic orgasms. Five years on, and ‘The Slow Rush’ is completely worth the wait.
The Amity Affliction – Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them
Australian metalcore band The Amity Affliction return with their seventh studio album ‘Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them’. The album is a blisstering blend of heavy breakdowns and growls, with soaring electroncic beats and catchy choruses. It’s a formula that Amity have perfected over the years, having been one of the most influential bands in a blossoming metalcore scene throughout the last decade. From start to finish the album is littered with, what can only be best described as, bangers. The emotional lyricism coming at you through the intense aggression of Joel Birch, and the clean chorus-lead vocals of Ahren Stringer, a combination best seen on tracks ‘All My Friends Are Dead’, ‘Soak Me in Bleach’ and ‘Catatonia’. This is a welcome return to the Amity of old, showing that even after 16 plus years in the game, they still can produce some of the best metalcore music around.
Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
Amongst a midst of high-profile media attention, with the Canadian musician Grimes dating billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk, and whilst expecting their first child, ‘Miss Anthropocene’, her fifth studio album, battles back to reclaim the narrative. Claire Boucher, known as Grimes, rose to a bonafide pop star level, with her critically acclaimed albums ‘Visions’ (2012) and ‘Art Angels’ (2015), but since then has struggled with the pitfalls of being a modern celebrity, and the spotlight and criticisms that follow. Against all odds, this album shows once again what a stunningly complex and beautiful artist Boucher is, holding up a mirror to a toxic society that she has experienced all too well herself.
The album is a brilliant juxstaposition between the dark and destructive lyricism and concepts, to Boucher’s dreamy pop vocals, like a violent scene in a film accompanied by a heavenly soundtrack. Boucher’s own life could be seen as a bit of a juxstaposition; the image we see portrayed by the media as Musk’s girlfriend, and the exquisite artist we know as Grimes. It’s easy to get lost in the two, but ‘Miss Anthropocene’ is a great start in returning to showing what she does best.
Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man
At 71, The Prince of Darkness returns with his twelfth studio album, and his first in a decade. The album is born out of a collaboration with Post Malone, on his track ‘Take What You Want’ (which also features on this album), and his consequent relationship with the producer and guitarist of that song, Andrew Watt. Enlisting some famous musicians to help, such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Guns N’ Roses bass player Duff McKagan and Elton John, Watt masterfully pieces together the album, nailing the balance between heavy riffs and straight up rock ballads.
You don’t get the nickname ‘The Prince of Darkness’ for nothing, and the album once again delves into the subject matter of death, although this time it has a very real and poignant feel to it, with Ozzy having publicly battled with health issues for decades, and a month prior to the release of this album coming out as being diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease. The mere existence of this album is a triumph, but the music speaks for itself. Ozzy’s dark lyricism and iconic voice coming to the fore, showing that even a decade on, he’s still got plenty left to give.
If you want to check out ‘My Top 5 Albums Released in January’ click here.
Next time I’ll take a look at my favourite albums released in March, featuring Code Orange, The Weeknd and Pearl Jam. But for now, thank you for reading.