Continuing our series, here is Part III of Belleza Moda’s Favourite Albums of 2015:
10. Years & Years – Communion | Polydor
Back in 2014, Years & Years won the coveted BBC Sound of 2015 Prize and I could not have been more thrilled and excited for them. Communion is a synthpop-driven album that would not feel out of place in the 80s music scene. Emotive up-tempo singles “Real”, “Shine”, “King” and “Desire” are tailor-made for the dance floor. However, “Eyes Shut”, “Memo” and “Without” – Communion’s soaring ballads – are where frontman Olly Alexander and dance-pop trio Years & Years ironically shine the brightest.
Joining an elite list of previous winners in Adele, Haim and Sam Smith, Years & Years have not shied away from their “Sound of 2015” billing. Infectious energy complemented by sincere lyrics, Communion could prove to be just the beginning for Years & Years.
9. Justin Bieber – Purpose | Def Jam
Anyone who has not heard new music from Justin Bieber in 2015 must be living under a rock. Anyone who claims they have never bust a dance move or sung along to one of his new songs is, quite frankly, a liar. Prior to 2015, Justin Bieber was a name synonymous with the media for all the wrong reasons. With his every move well-documented and scrutinized in the public press, the world began to render Bieber as a fading teen superstar who growing pains got the better of. Justin had other plans.
Looking to move on and learn from his mistakes, Justin needed purpose – no pun intended – and found it via God and music. Purpose marks a new chapter in the Stratford native’s life and is one that is already paying huge dividends. Topping the charts in over 100 countries, four Top-10 singles, global streaming records and a world tour announcement later, Bieber can do no wrong. Purpose effortlessly blends love and heartbreak, maturity and sincerity and sonically pop, dance, tropical house and R&B. 2015 marked the comeback year for the former YouTube child sensation. Spearheaded by Purpose, Justin Bieber was a name on everyone’s lips once again; albeit for all the right reasons this time around.
8. Beach House – Depression Cherry | Sub Pop
Ethereal and so hauntingly beautiful. On the album opener “Levitation”, Victoria Legrand distinctively sings, “You should see there’s a place I want to take you” in one of the first lines. Instantly, the listener is invited to a journey exploring vignettes of soundscapes from worlds different to ours. Serene, calm and as said before, hauntingly beautiful, Depression Cherry paints an aural picture of what heaven may sound like.
On the album, the band noted: “We continue to let ourselves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which we exist.” With a lesser focus on booming drums prominent on previous Beach House records, the Baltimore dream pop duo rely on more guitars, synths, drones and songs structured around melodies to lead the journey this time around. Simply put, a return to simplicity has never sounded this beautiful.
7. James Bay – Chaos and the Calm | Virgin / Republic
From open mic nights and busking in Brighton to picking up awards at the BRITs, James Michael Bay is 2015’s story of the singer-songwriter. Ranking 2nd in BBC’s Sound of 2015 list behind Years & Years meant audiences were placing expectations on Bay’s young shoulders long before Chaos and the Calm even hit shelves.
Intertwining blues, soul and soft rock, Chaos and the Calm delves into Bay’s poignant reflections on his frustrations (“Craving”), struggling relationships (“Let It Go”), fears (“Move Together”), vulnerability (“Scars”), past (“When We Were On Fire”), present (“Get Out While You Can”) and future (“If You Ever Want To Be In Love”). Driven by incredible heart and sincerity, Bay’s intimacy and relatability justifies his inclusion on our list and BBC’s Sound of 2015. After all, the story of the rags to riches singer-songwriter is the gift that keeps on giving, year after year without fail.
6. Miguel – Wildheart | RCA
Miguel Pimentel has always been something of an enigma. Charming and eccentric in his persona, few knew who Miguel really was. Prior to Wildheart, Miguel carried a rather misrepresented identity of himself. Dealing with romance and heavy sexual matter, Miguel’s first two albums were ever-presents in couples’ love-making playlists all over North America but little else.
Fast forward to 2015 and we have one of the most sincere, genuine and heartfelt R&B albums we’ve heard in a long time. Miguel’s revelatory Wildheart captivates from the start with the guzzling guitar opener on “a beautiful exit” to its Lenny Kravitz featured album-closer on “face the sun”. At the core of the album remains love; love lyrically and stylistically different from the lustfulness of other R&B music and Miguel’s older work too. Here, lust and one-night stands are substituted for pleasure (“the valley”) and partnership (“Simple Things”). Miguel’s struggles with normalcy and identity are there for all to see especially on the album highlight “what’s normal anyway”. In his most-autobiographical track till date, Miguel offers an identity few have seen before and fewer have known to exist. The emotional joy of self-acceptance Miguel experiences is heartfelt, earnest and unmissable. Guided by love, self-acceptance and 70s rock, Miguel’s Wildheart demonstrates why “you should not judge a book by its cover”. Or in this case, you should not judge an artist by the number of times his songs appear on “Making Love” playlists on Spotify, Songza and Apple Music.
Hope you enjoyed Part III and below is our Best Albums of 2015 list thus far!
Tune in tomorrow to see the top five in our favourite albums of 2015!