By Justin Hermstedt
2016 ended over two months ago, and just when you thought you were caught up on that year’s music, 2017 comes around and brings a whole new lineup. There are truly no off-days allowed in the pursuit of good music, but we’ll give you a pass just this once. Here are a few albums you may have missed this year already. Now keep your ears to the streets so you don’t miss any more.
Process – Sampha
Sampha built up hype for his debut album through his collaborations with popular artists such as Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Solange. Big names, one might say. Released early in February, Process is an intimate introduction to Sampha.
The first few songs reveal the pressure and anxiety Sampha experiences: “It’s so hot I’ve been melting out here / I’m made out of plastic out here.” This feeling builds until the fourth track, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” an endearing ballad dedicated to Sampha’s mother, who died in 2015.
The album has a very special way of finding highs and lows from song to song. The quiet songs build a desire in the listener for something danceable, which eventually comes in “Reverse Faults” and “Timmy’s Prayer.”
Process solidifies Sampha as a pop artist with unrivaled soul.
Plural – Electric Guest
Plural is Electric Guest’s sophomore album, arriving five years after the commercially successful Mondo.
As in Mondo, the music in Plural is characterized by tight, dancy percussion and synth. Electric Guest seems to draw influence from, say, Depeche Mode and your common elevator music. Plural leans slightly towards the elevator music side of the spectrum compared to Mondo. Plural is notable for its optimistic tone. Songs like “Dear to Me” and “Sarah” are more smiley than we’ve seen Electric Guest in the past.
Although Plural is generally high-tempo, there’s still a hint of the uneasy brooding of Mondo, like in the opening track, “Zero.” The best new development in this album is a more diverse vocal performance, aside from the band’s signature mellow falsetto. Check out the surprising passion in “Back For Me.”