In the music world, 2019 was a year for taking risks and breaking hiatuses

Illustration by Abby Giuseppe

Iman Mekonen, Spectrum Editor

This year has given music connoisseurs like myself a whirlwind of new material from diverse voices and backgrounds. Several artists, including the ones on this list, chose 2019 as the year to break their hiatuses and to take creative risks. 

It’s extremely rare to find albums I can listen to in their entirety without skipping a song, and the albums on this list all fit in that category.

In no particular order, here are my favorite albums from the multitude of genres I hold close to my heart.

 

‘Father of the Bride’ by Vampire Weekend

I wasn’t a Vampire Weekend fan before I listened to this album. I discovered “Father of the Bride” after seeing an Instagram post from Steve Lacy promoting their collaboration, “Sunflower.” 

After hearing the mesmerizing scale-filled guitar riff from Lacy and frontman Ezra Koenig’s feather-soft vocals, I was hooked and wanted to listen to more. 

Following a six-year hiatus after their 2013 release “Modern Vampires of the City,” the band released their fourth studio album, “Father of the Bride,” in May.

“Father of the Bride” isn’t like anything I’ve ever heard before. It’s a concept album that follows the story of a man, voiced by Koenig, and a woman, voiced by Haim’s Danielle Haim. The two create conversations about the beauties of nature and human life and are connected throughout the album’s 18 tracks.

The earthy aesthetic of the album is seen in the globe painted on the album’s artwork and heard through the unique blend of genres, which range from rock, country and folk to jazz and pop. They show the band’s open-minded experimentation that seamlessly weaves the sounds into each other. 

 

‘Ginger’ by Brockhampton

After the release of three studio albums in 2017 — known as the “Saturation Trilogy” — and the departure of a founding member, I thought Brockhampton would never be able to release music as good as their past discography, but I was wrong. 

Their fourth studio album, “Iridescence,” marked this rocky transition that was evident in the band’s sound and its 10-day recording period. 

However, “Ginger” marks the band’s most cohesive album since “Saturation III.” 

It tackles tough topics such as death, family and heartbreak by contrasting them with warm, poetic lyrics and unique beats. Each of the six musicians of the 14-member group has a shining moment in this album.

It shows that the self-proclaimed boyband can be vulnerable in their songs while collaborating to produce another all-around great album.

 

‘Igor’ by Tyler, The Creator

“Igor” was announced just 11 days before it was scheduled to release, which came as a surprise to fans. A brief hiatus is usually expected from most artists between music projects. But Tyler isn’t most artists. 

The album came out less than two years after the release of his fourth album, “Flower Boy,” and almost six months after his soundtrack for Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch.” 

With its bright pink album art, the record is fantastic in the way it combines the genres of R&B, rap and funk to show the maturation of his behavior. 

Through Tyler’s focus on the music, listeners no longer hear the immature hijinks that were evident in his previous albums, but instead, the sensitivity that was touched on in “Flower Boy” through his vulnerable expression of emotion, sexuality and feelings of love. 

Collaborations include a diverse palette of artists from Lil Uzi Vert (“Igor’s Theme”) Solange (“I Think”) and Kanye West (“Puppet”). The unnamed guest features on the album make for a scavenger hunt to identify them all.

 

‘Lover’ by Taylor Swift

As a longtime Taylor Swift fan, I was extremely excited for this album to come out. I wasn’t the biggest fan of her previous album, “Reputation,” but this one fully redeemed that upset. 

“Lover,” in reference to the album artwork and the title, is lighthearted, beautiful and well crafted. Its overall bright and colorful aesthetic and strong lyrics are reminiscent of a summer love and mark one of Swift’s best in a while.

While it closely resembles the sounds of “1989” and “Red,” this album marks a maturity in Swift’s sound, clearly outlining her unique place in the pop genre. 

 

‘When I Get Home’ by Solange

“When I Get Home” explores Solange’s deep connection to her hometown of Houston through a storytelling concept.

Solange’s smooth vocals and silky R&B beats prove the album to be timeless in its overall sound. Her incredibly written lyrics showcase the Southern black culture that flows throughout the album. 

Details of her own upbringing inspire different stories, and some are relatable to all listeners.

The album’s visual accompaniment of the same name brings this concept to life with monochromatic scenes and shows Solange’s artistic capabilities in a different medium. 

“When I Get Home” is a work of art that is a reflection of the risk-taking associated with creating two mediums of art to go together and deserves all the praise in the world. 

spotify:playlist:4vJoDctwcgs2F6SATVtNp6

 

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