Albums Of The Year: Alice Phoebe Lou, Gojira, Hayley Williams, Trash Boat, SG Lewis and Clairo

Over the past few weeks, The Mic's team have been busy preparing for our end of year album list. For starters, here's of our writers' thoughts on the latest from Alice Phoebe Lou, Gojira, Hayley Williams, Trash Boat, SG Lewis and Clairo.

Glow - Alice Phoebe Lou

I didn’t have to think twice about my favourite album of the year. I instantly knew it would be Alice Phoebe Lou’s Glow. As with all of her albums, she created yet another transcendent musical experience. Listening to this album feels like the moment on a cloudy day when the sun momentarily appears, beaming down on you, warming your skin, through to your bones. You can feel the album completely wrapping you in a ray of light, leaving your body weightless whilst you are entirely consumed by Alice’s celestial voice. The album weaves through deeply personal and emotive journeys of self-empowerment, love, friendship, and resilience. It is difficult to pick a favourite song, as they are equally magical, but 'Dirty Mouth' is a particularly fantastic song. Unapologetic and honest, it is a declaration of self-determination and bravery. A few lines which stand out are: “Don’t touch me // Don’t even look at me // I’ve got laser beams coming out my eyes”. I believe this album to be a testament to her genius and poetic excellence. It will not disappoint. Millie Hopcott

Fortitude - Gojira

Gojira: Modern metal masters. Hulking arena behemoths. And now eco warriors, with the magnificent $150,000 raised off the back of the campaign attached to the single Amazonia off of their latest musical offering, Fortitude. It is a triumphant return for the French metal masters, mixing sweeping grandiosity with grinding riffs and tribal drums. The album is primarily a call to arms for the planet, screaming to the world to pay attention to the global issue of climate change, most notably on the same single that spawned the campaign, 'Amazonia'. The Sepultura-esque drumming and groovy, bouncy riff that introduce the song bely the astounding heaviness of some of the later moments of the song, and the whole album runs in similar fashion, with a song like ‘The Chant’ showing a positively melodic side, complete with delightful riffs, calming singing and, yes, a chant. However, songs like 'Grind' and 'Sphinx' showcase the old Gojira, complete with beautifully abrasive pick scrapes and growling vocals that harken back to the From Mars To Sirius era, making this album arguably the most cohesive showcase of the band to date. All in all, this is an utter success, and is a vengeful promise for the future of this brilliant group. Jake Longhurst

FLOWERS for VASES/descansos - Hayley Williams

Pop-punk’s princess and Paramore powerhouse Hayley Williams dropped her sophomore album in February. FLOWERS for VASES/descansos acts as a predecessor to her previous successful solo effort, Petals For Armor, delving deep into the realms of solitude, self-reflection, and picking up the pieces after heartbreak. Williams truly lays herself bare, both lyrically and instrumentally. From an instrumental perspective, she played all the instruments herself, including piano, bass, guitar and drums. This is her reiteration (although, does she need any introduction?) that she is a versatile artist, capable of leading an acoustic-led album, alongside being well known for her acrobatic vocals, spunky attitude and being an exhilarating live act. She also champions her impressive vocal range in this album, by offering the listener velvety tones of her lower octaves, particularly in 'Over Those Hills'. In a similar vein, 'My Limb'is an alluring amalgam of moody humming, brooding beats and witchy chants. Lyrically, FLOWERS for VASES/descansos gives a more mature narrative compared to the angsty Paramore albums of the early 2000s. ‘Why do memories glow the way real moments don’t? My altar is full of all love’s delusions’ (taken from opening track 'First Thing To Go') is an example of Williams’ ability to pen earnest and incredibly touching sentiments. We are witnessing here the growth of an artist (paralleled by the overt floral imagery) who, as previously mentioned, has perhaps a very different public image from her days with Paramore. Retaining her famously honest lyrics, we see a different, softer side to Williams. However, she does at times cleverly and subtly reference her older words, such as ‘truth is all I ever wanted was somebody to want me’ (Trigger), which echoes fan favourite titan track All I Wanted from 2009’s Brand New Eyes album. Beautiful, serene, and heartbreakingly honest, FLOWERS for VASES/descansos is a different Williams to the one that we used to know; and yet, is still as incredible. Jodie Averis

Don't You Feel Amazing? - Trash Boat

Trash Boat’s 2021 album Don’t You Feel Amazing? steps away from their traditionally pop-punk sound and steps towards various new directions. With a sound that is punchy and energetic, mixed with anecdotal and emotional lyrics, both old and new fans are connected to the band in a really special way. Featuring rising stars Milkie Way (from WARGASM) and Kamiyada+, the album creates a journey of different influences, some of which include the likes of Nothing But Thieves, Nirvana, and Taylor Swift. Songs like He’s So Good and Alpha Omega capture some of the personal struggles of lead singer Tobi Duncan; as a result, the album unforgivingly turns pain into headbanging anthems and urges emotion to run through the veins of alternative rock music. After a successful UK tour in the Autumn, the band have now released a documentary trailer for an album worthy of that success. The year is not over for St Albans boys who will be back on tour in 2022 to make sure we all still feel amazing! Roxann Yus

times - SG Lewis

Since the 2010s EDM movement lost its steam, the world has been awaiting innovative new electronic artists, to retake the territory that dance music has lost in the world of pop. SG Lewis is one-such artist, who released his debut album, times, in February. Sam Lewis had already showcased his production talent on Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, before he released times; a rollercoaster of 70s Disco nostalgia, that glitters with the sleekness of modern production and poignant themes of 2021 nights-out. So many instruments on this album; like the frenetic bassline of Feed the Fire or Nile Rodgers’ fantastic rhythm guitar part in One More, are placed perfectly and so precisely in the song, so as to give you maximal Disco-serotonin. Sam’s vocals sit comfortably alongside the guest-vocalists, whose talents are magnified by the glittery electronic production, like in Impact; California rapper Channel Tres mutters "I felt your impact", as the lead synth ‘impacts’ your very soul, before we soon hear Robyn’s stunning vocal acrobatics. It’s a hugely exciting song, and a small example of the near-perfect arrangement and eye for detail that went into the production of times. This album certainly signals thrilling new horizons for electronic music. Caradoc Gayer

Sling - Clairo

Graduating from the bedroom pop of her early days, Sling sees Clairo take a new path, experimenting with a rich, 70s-esque sound to create a fusion of jazz, soft rock and folk. Despite the new style, it’s Clairo’s familiar vocals and melodies which make Sling so intoxicating. Sling sees Clairo take complex subjects such as unrequited love, starting a family and the viciousness of the music industry and contrast them with her soft, celestial vocals. You may not always know what Claire is singing, but her voice always sounds pretty. Softer sounding songs such as Blouse and Harbour are balanced by the livelier, guitar-driven Zinnias and the funky Amoeba. It’s best listened to in its entirety as Sling tells a story both musically and lyrically. Clairo’s first words on the album are “I’m stepping inside a universe designed against my own beliefs” as she begins the 45-minute journey into her mind. Every track on Sling comes together to create a sublime listening experience, making it my album of the year. Lucinda Dodd


Edited by: Gemma Cockrell and Joe Hughes

Featured image courtesy of Hayley Williams via Facebook.