30. Superorganism – ‘Something for your M.I.N.D.’
In January this year, the trippy-pop delight ‘Something for your M.I.N.D.’ arrived on streaming service with not a single word or picture detailing who or what Superorganism was. Almost a year later, we still don’t have a clear picture what the international eight-piece collective are really about. But we know that with each cartoon sample and squelching bassline, ‘Something for your M.I.N.D.’ would shape up to become a low-key player for debut single of the year.
29. Lorde – ‘Supercut’
Where on ‘Green Light’ Lorde danced through the breakup, on ‘Supercut’ she succumbs to nostalgic thoughts about a former relationship, ingeniously comparing her excessively positive memories to a corny, fan-made YouTube clip. Setting the song over a muted stutter of bass and syncopated piano, she says she intentionally created an introspective, lonely feel through the production: “I wanted it to feel like you were through the wall from a party.”
28. The National – ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’
Picking up the grungier overtones heard on ‘Alligator’ and ‘Boxer’, the lead single from The National’s acclaimed 2017 opus ‘Sleep Well Beast’ packs in all of the simmering sentimental tension that they’ve perfected while quietly growing into one of the world’s premier arena bands. It’s that theatrical combination of Matt Berninger’s thundering baritone and twisted-heart lyrics, the soaring chorus and the sweet release between that firecracker guitar riff and wild, open-road solo, that showcases The National as masters of their form and the kings of art-rock in 2017. No one can touch them.
27. Wolf Alice – ‘Yuk Foo’
144 pummelling seconds of concentrated rage, ‘Yuk Foo’ was the gloriously unfiltered first taste of Wolf Alice’s hugely anticipated second album. Over a three-note riff, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell snarls like a wild animal in what she called a reaction to the expectations placed on her “as someones’s girlfriend, as someone’s friend, as someone in a band, as someone with a platform, as a woman”. It’s all too boring, she yells: “I wanna fuck all the people I meet… cause you bore me to death… Well, deplore me – no I don’t give a shit.”
26. Shame – ‘Tasteless’
Few songs from 2017 packed quite the punch like the South London quintet’s first proper anthem, ‘Tasteless’. Built around an impossibly powerful and razor-sharp riff, the group tackle those who don’t see society’s problems as their own. “It’s about protesting against people’s constant acceptance and indifference towards deeply troubling issues within society as well as politics, only seeming to care when it is something that will affect them,” frontman Charlie Steen said. Impossible to ignore, Shame are a prospect to marvel at.
25. Liam Gallagher – ‘For What It’s Worth’
A rare pause in Liam’s bolshy rock ’n roll quest, ‘For What It’s Worth’ finds him getting in touch with his soft side. In a touching tribute to his family, he sings: “I’ll be the first to say, ‘I made my own mistakes.’” For all his frontman pedigree and potato jibes, it’s easy to forget there are few vocalists capable of showing sentiment quite like Liam. This is a timely reminder, a song so heartfelt and poignant it will have no doubt made Noel jealous.
24. Loyle Carner – ‘The Isle Of Arran’
With it’s glorious gospel samples and self-aware rhymes Loyle Carner’s album opener ‘The Isle Of Arran’ is the sort of track that usually comes in the climax of a record; but it’s testament to the young talent that he puts it front and centre, asserting himself as a staple on the UK hip-hop scene. A huge step away from the usual braggadocio of the scene, on ‘The Isle Of Arran’ Carner raps with unusual honesty and sensitivity, speaking of family turmoil and grief. Clever, candid and with impossibly catchy hooks, Carner seems to have come up with a winning combination.
23. Father John Misty – ‘Pure Comedy’
Singing straight from the pessimist’s hymnal, Josh Tillman provides a potted history of the world. Starting with the evolution of man, he ends in the present – a world ruled by poisonous despots – explaining how we got here with examples ranging from theocracy to rife anaemia. This is a howl of tragic laughter at the absolute state of mankind, accompanied by the kind of epic piano line you might expect from Elton John. “I hate to say it,” is his spine-tingling conclusion, “but each other’s all we’ve got.” Amen.
22. Pale Waves – ‘There’s A Honey’
As far as debuts go, Manchester indie newcomers Pale Waves came flying out of the gate with ‘There’s A Honey’ earlier this summer. Produced by the 1975’s frontman Matty Healy, there’s obvious influence – like the song’s shimmering soundscapes and a bloody brilliant festival-ready chorus, but they’re no copy cats. A juggernaut riff gets things off to a killer start and soon after, Heather Baron-Gracie’s heavenly vocals prove to cast an utterly bewitching and unbreakable spell. But then again, who’d want to break it?
21. Dave – ‘Question Time’
“A question for the new prime minister,” Dave starts, on a seven-minute epic that actually asks 16 questions, and offers dozens more plain-speaking statements on how the UK is at its wits’ end. Brexit, Theresa May, Grenfell, Jeremy Corbyn and the NHS are all addressed head-on by the south London rapper, who somehow makes a direct political comment seem inspiring, without the slightest hint of a Bono Factor. At just 19, Dave has his head screwed on far more than cowardly councils, corrupt politicians and old, haggard backbenchers.
- Don’t agree with our list? Have your say and vote in the VO5 NME Awards 2018