So 2017 is almost done, and as far as music is concerned, it’s been a year of startling highs and even more startling lows. So to commemorate the end of another year, we’re looking back on everything that 2017 had to offer, starting with the very bottom of the barrel, the worst albums of the year.
Luke Nuttall (Editor / Writer)
5. Sleeping With Sirens – Gossip
For all the big words that were dished out in this album’s run-up, and for as many grand statements that were made, Gossip ended up being Sleeping With Sirens by the book, except with everything that made the best moments of their last couple of albums totally removed. Instead, this is a soulless, painfully basic album that might want to flirt with the idea of being a serious band, but never extends that reach far enough beyond the usual shameless pandering to an audience that should really know better by now.
4. AJR – The Click
Thought the band whose biggest single sampled Spongebob Squarepants couldn’t get any more annoying? Well, get ready for The Click, an album of screeching indie-pop horrors that has no idea what it wants to be and even less of how to do anything effectively. Perhaps there’s something close to a hook that’s okay and not hair-rippingly obnoxious, but wading through this fifty-minute, saccharine-encrusted wretch of an album simply isn’t worth it.
3. Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues
So not only does Adam Levine have the temerity to continually co-opt the Maroon 5 name for his utterly terrible pop vehicle, but he doesn’t even have the good graces to make this one memorable. Red Pill Blues has all the trappings of a modern Maroon 5 album – bad production; insultingly basic songwriting; instrumentation that forgets it actually has a band at its disposal – but there’s nothing close to a decent single or memorable moment beyond a few fragments. Worthless, in other words.
2. Deuce – Invincible
The latest entry to the list, but one that’s more than worthy. Invincible sees Deuce abandoning anything that made him even remotely palatable, and instead plunges headfirst into tired, “edgy” rap-rock clichés that tries way too hard with approximately nothing to show for it. Factor in a rapping ability that barely passes entry level in a best case scenario, all the barren production of bad nu-metal and the most basic pastiche of rapper swagger that’s hammered in ad nauseum, and it’s hard to see how any enjoyment can be gleaned from this whatsoever.
1. Makeout – The Good Life
Ever been through a breakup? Then chances are you’ve handled it better than Sam Boxold, as he as his Makeout bandmates serve out lashings of myopic, passive-aggressive childishness over a pop-rock canvas without even a modicum of depth or texture. Not a great first impression then, and judging by the culmination of derivativeness and sheer idiocy that’s almost impressively terrible, it’s unlikely that Makeout will get the chance to make another one.
Georgia Jackson (Deputy Editor / Writer)
5. Fergie – Double Dutchess
The beginning of Fergie’s solo career blessed us with some of the best trashy pop and tearjerking ballads of the 2000s. Now The Black Eyed Peas are inactive again, she’s tried to force the spotlight back onto herself with comeback album Double Dutchess. Spoiler: it’s not good. If cringefest and 2016 single M.I.L.F.$ wasn’t enough to warn you off this album for life, you’ll have realised this for yourself. Like a lot of the worst mainstream albums this year, trendhopping is rife here, with blind rehashes of popular music of late and plenty of rap features. Worst of all, Double Dutchess screams vanity project (a song crediting her four-year-old as a featured artist says it all), and none of the songs being any good just hammers that home. Go and listen to Glamorous and remember Fergie’s glory days.
4. Alt-J – Relaxer
Ever the critical indie darlings, Alt-J raked in praise and plenty of award nominations with their third album Relaxer. Is it deserving of such acclaim? Not really. Its 39-minute runtime is made up of eight songs, and the majority are slow builders intended to wow every hipster who presses play. A lot of these songs are lukewarm empty space, there are hardly any choruses, and any time the volume is turned up (looking at you, In Cold Blood) is uncomfortable and unpleasant. The vocals are much harsher than the musical landscape here and the two together is jarring, and the lyrics particularly to Hit Me Like That Snare (Google them and shudder) are enough to make you want to switch off by themselves. The critics definitely got this one wrong.
3. Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud
Kasabian have sounded tired on their last few albums, but none more so than this. For Crying Out Loud stretches every indie cliché to their absolute limit, with next to no personality or charisma to make it even somewhat palatable. There’s nothing exciting, innovative or even particularly individual about anything on this album, and certainly nothing representative of hits like Fire or Club Foot on this album to hint at the arena-conquering, major festival headliners they’ve become. Pushing acts like this as the cream of the crop is the reason why so many denounce their faith in the music of today.
2. Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues
We all know that Maroon 5 are the kings of trendhopping, but because they’ve released some of the catchiest pop songs of the decade, it’s a fact that we all let slide. With Red Pill Blues (the worst album title of the year?), the jig is up. It’s so formulaic and often downright cringeworthy, relying on oh-so-right-now features from a mixture of much better and flash-in-the-pan artists to (unsuccessfully) distract from Maroon 5’s complete lack of credibility. The biggest crime by far is how one-dimensional every track sounds considering there are seven instrumentalists in their arsenal – do they not do anything or come up with ideas that don’t involve jumping on bandwagons? Hopefully these musical parasites fade into relative obscurity off the back of this album.
1. AJR – The Click
If you’ve heard this, I’m sorry. For those that haven’t, nothing I can say can sum this record up. The Click is a highly optimistic album, with AJR (brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan for those not in the know) naïvely believing that people want to hear ‘quirky’ songs about managing to not smoke grass today, comparing their lives to episodes of The Office, and oh-so-revolutionary topics like not being able to resist drinking peer-pressure, a bad comedown or hating drama. It’s the silly, happy-go-lucky (some would say worst) side of Weezer (funnily enough, Rivers Cuomo features on this record), mixed with Twenty One Pilots’ instrumentation and a “random xD” teenager’s mentality, and even writing that mix of things down doesn’t do justice to the level of bad we’re talking about here. If your interest is piqued, continue at your peril, but don’t blame The Soundboard for any mental scarring inflicted.
Words by Luke Nuttall and Georgia Jackson