In our next look back at 2017, we have a look at the best of the album tracks released this year, the deep cuts that mightn’t have gotten the most attention or the biggest push, but are still certainly deserving of the spotlight all the same.
Luke Nuttall (Editor / Writer)
5. Stick To Your Guns – The Reach For Me: “Forgiveness Of Self”
For as much of a journey as Stick To Your Guns’ True View is, this final track represents the moment that brings it all together, with Jesse Barnett coming to terms with the mistakes he’s made in the past, and reaching a point where all he wants is an understanding of what makes his a flawed human. Paired with a surging melodic punk backdrop that fully emphasizes how much a grounded, human track this is, it’s a near-perfect way to close Stick To Your Guns’ already impressive latest album, and really does resonate in a truly fantastic way.
4. As It Is – Austen
As It Is might get a lot of flak for being so entrenched in the modern crop of throwaway pop-punk, but as their sophomore album okay. showed, they’re capable of much more. Austen is the true pinnacle of that, a stomach-wrenchingly personal ode to Patty Walters’ grandfather in hospital, with such clarity in the pain of seeing someone so close in such a fragile state, and not knowing if it’ll be the last time you ever see them at all. It’s easily the rawest, most ragged that As It Is have ever sounded, and in terms of a genuinely affecting, powerful track, it remains unprecedented in their catalogue.
3. Deaf Havana – Pensacola, 2013
It’s the closing moment of Deaf Havana’s All These Countless Nights that sees James Veck-Gilodi’s relationship fully break apart, fuelled by alcoholic binges on the other side of the world and sombre reminiscence of both there and back home. For an album that goes as deep into its creator’s psyche as this – particularly for a mainstream rock album – this is an utterly phenomenal way to close it off, ambiguous but still with closure both in its lyrics and sweeping, heartland rock overtones that see a band with a lot to say and an enrapturing way in which to say it.
2. The Menzingers – Charlie’s Army
A lot of these choices have been fairly thematically dark and heavy, so here’s The Menzingers with the complete antithesis of that, with a narrator who’s young and in love and an ex-boyfriend who’s not happy with him getting so close. There’s a punch and energy to the song that just makes it work so insanely well, done with a total lack of pretension and no hidden ambitions beyond making a totally infectious punk song. Few songs this year have even come close to being as simultaneously riotous and joyous as this one.
1. Creeper – Crickets
The best song of the year comes in the form of a stripped-back, tender acoustic track, with Hannah Greenwood’s sole lead performance to punctuate Eternity, In Your Arms‘ narrative, seen from the perspective of the album’s love interest, sick of being manipulated and gaslit by exes and unwilling to put up with it again for another whose intentions are no different. What’s more, it’s the moment where all of Creeper’s pomp and artifice is completely stripped back, a hauntingly bare but powerful track that represents this band’s peak both in terms of songwriting and thematic construction. Need more evidence that Creeper really are something special? Here you go.
Georgia Jackson (Deputy Editor / Writer)
5. Mallory Knox – Wired
It feels like people have slept on Mallory Knox’s Wired this year, and it’s a shame. Not only does it show growth and maturation on their part, but it also represents everything right with British rock. Wired’s title track is perfect evidence of this, particularly in terms of Mallory’s dual-vocalist setup. Mikey Chapman has evolved into a true rock vocalist to be reckoned with in terms of range and power while Sam Douglas acts as the chilled-out antithesis throughout. This perfect vocal marriage plus some genuinely brilliant guitar work is more than enough to commend on this album full of hidden gems.
4. Paramore – Pool
2017 saw Paramore join the ever-growing list of rock staples to move to pop with album After Laughter, but unlike far too many bands (*cough* Fall Out Boy *cough*), this move felt natural and easy, not forced as an easy cash grab. Beautiful deep cut Pool, one of the most different things Paramore has ever done, doesn’t seem to have received the love Hard Times or Fake Happy have done, and unjustly so. Hayley Williams’ vocally understated chorus is gorgeous, the pretty ’80s guitars are brilliant, and the incredible wind chime motif that loops through the entire song is easily the highlight. More like this please, Paramore.
3. Haim – Nothing’s Wrong
The second inclusion for HAIM on our individual song lists, Nothing’s Wrong is, like many of their tracks, a pure summer anthem. Like Little Of Your Love, which we’ve spoken about, Nothing’s Wrong utilises rock ‘n’ roll guitar to add a real retro feel to the track. It’s paired with 80s-esque synths (which are sure to draw the Fleetwood Mac comparisons HAIM are famously confused by) and experimenting with vocal effects with make it uniquely nostalgic but still undoubtedly modern. The simple one-line chorus is deceptively made to look more complex with HAIM’s trademark effortless harmonies, but it’s still a dead cert to be stuck in your head all day.
2. PVRIS – No Mercy
PVRIS’ place in rock music may be often questioned due to regular reliance on synths over guitars in their stellar discography, but No Mercy, a fan favourite on second album All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell, single-handedly proves they belong. The first crash into the thundering, defiant chorus from the minimal opening verse is a real fist-pumping moment, especially following the more understated Winter in the album’s tracklisting. Lynn Gunn is on top form here, too, with her vocals ranging from hauntingly flitting around higher octaves to a confrontational, raspy belt. Proof that PVRIS can not only write a rock song with the best of them, but that anything they do absolutely kills.
1. The Menzingers – Tellin’ Lies
Has there been a more perfect album opener this year? The Menzingers throw you straight into their cocktail of Americana-tinged rock inspired by nostalgia on Tellin’ Lies, a highlight of stellar 2017 release After The Party. Never has anyone sang the words “Oh yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible” with such infectious glee like Greg Barnett does here, making you so buoyant by the time the euphoric chorus rolls around that you genuinely feel like your heart’s going to burst. By the time the tempo changes, you’ll be wanting to grab whoever’s closest and sing in their face, guaranteed. It’s just what this song, this album, and The Menzingers in general do to people.
Words by Luke Nuttall and Georgia Jackson