This year hotly-tipped solo female artists have been dropping highly-anticipated LP’s like no other. This year’s one for the girls – mysterious siren BANKS released her album Goddess (aptly-named) just two days ago, whilst Lana Del Rey (can she be my guardian or something) (I ship her and James Franco) returned with Ultraviolence. These girls embody female empowerment with their voice, lyrics and musical composition, even when they express vulnerability or heartbreak. GRL POWER 2014 – 4EVER
BANKS – Goddess
Ever since I heard This Is What It Feels Like I knew the song was just a taste of BANKS’ potential and her power to blend dark R&B vocals with soft, glitchy electronics so so smoothly. She kept releasing singles that were absolutely sublime and explored the raw truth of relationships and matters of the heart. Her music is definitely very personal to her, and for her to expose her experiences through her music is really beyoodiful ❤
Highlights: Alibi; Waiting Game; This Is What It Feels Like; Drowning; Warm Water
Dillon – The Unknown
If you had to compare Berlin-based singer Dillon to anybody you could say she’s a James Blake – Lykke Li hybrid. But she’s totally unique, ethereal and understated. I only came across her in the ‘Listeners Also Bought’ section whilst iTunes browsing. I heard Thirteen Thirtyfive and it was charming and endearing. Then I listened to her second album The Unknown. Her distinctive voice, filled with cold bass, minimalist techno and sparse, melancholic piano chords, tells a story of the trials and tribulations of human existence, in an beautifully abstract and visually-exquisite way (need to tone down the adverbs/adjectives lol). Like the album title suggests, she explores the unknown, in a deeply philosophical and inquisitive way. Out of all these albums, I recommend you listen to Dillon because she is the most underrated and unknown out of all these leading ladies. Out of all the artists I’ve discovered this year, Dillon is one of the brightest-shining gems.
Highlights: The whole album is beautifully consistent…but if I had to pick: A Matter Of Time; You Cover Me; In Silence; Don’t Go
FKA twigs – LP1
Ethereal and other-worldy, FKA twigs is out of this world. Her vocal range is incredible and on this album she showcases her breathy, sultry melodies and sings REALLY REALLY high effortlessly. Like BANKS, FKA twigs propelled herself from relatively unknown artist to R&B-electronica heavyweight seemingly overnight. Her sound is just unique and hyper-cool. Believe the hype!
Highlights: Two Weeks; Video Girl; Give Up
MØ – No Mythologies To Follow
I first discovered Danish delight MØ when her track Waste Of Time was soundtracked on the Koppardberg cider advert…after that it was off to the races because I’ve listened to all of her songs religiously and still do to this day. Waste Of Time is one of my favourite songs because frankly, it’s sassy and it’s one-of-a-kind. And that’s MØ (Karen Marie Ørsted), she seems real sassy, relatable and just goes with the flow! (I like to think I basically know her personally from the times she’s favourited and retweeted my tweets. Humble brag.) Somehow No Mythologies To Follow truly resonates with me – somehow it reminds me that I’m not alone? Don’t Wanna Dance is so infectious, it makes me want to sing and dance, and I don’t really like to dance! The power of music. I’m in love with her voice and the energy she puts into her songs. The songs on the album are diverse and beat-driven, with sporadic guitar melodies and glitchy electronics. She’s fun, unstoppable and kick-arse, and I might be obsessed with her.
Highlights: I sing every one of these songs when I’m home alone. From start to finish the songs are diverse but equally likeable…Red In The Grey; Pilgrim; Waste Of Time; Walk This Way; Slow Love
Lykke Li – I Never Learn
2014 has also been a year for sad, sad girls. If you listen to Lykke Li’s third album, I Never Learn, you can hear the sheer heartbreak. It’s even in the album title; Lykke must have been truly disheartened. It’s a big jump from her debut and sophomore albums, named Youth Novels and Wounded Rhymes respectively, which were more light-hearted and playful. I Never Learn is much more mature, sombre and moving. This is really soulful, and whilst being melancholic there is an underlying glimmer of salvation and hope, demonstrated in songs such as Silverline.
Highlights: No Rest For The Wicked; Just Like A Dream, Silverline, Gunshot
Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
I didn’t know what to expect of Ultraviolence, yet the lead-up to its release, with West Coast, had me craving it bad. Stylistically, it’s quite unlike Lana’s debut Born To Die, in the sense that it shakes off the hip-hop element and polished glamour in exchange for a more undone, understated and 70’s-inspired tone. Perhaps it’s the production (Ultraviolence was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys) or her recent disillusionment of life; perhaps not ‘recent’ as such – who knows, maybe she’s felt this way for a long time, but I’ve read the seemingly notorious yet insightful The Guardian interview with the singer. You know, the one where she states “I wish I was dead already.”, and that she does’t enjoy her success? It’s difficult to tell whether what she reportedly said in the interview were taken out of context or she truly does feel this way. Maybe she’s content, but it sounds as though some misery has been poured into the album. Ironically, this misery is going on to become a commercial success and make a lot of fans happy. Ultraviolence is brooding, giving off a casual Californian vibe, documenting cynical aspects such as Money, Power (and), Glory through a dreamy, black and white filter. Despite Lana’s divine, sultry vocals seeming slightly hushed, they very much soar above the slow tempos, soft rock, and bluesy guitars (badly generalised of me) and – which took me by surprise – electric guitar solos! A world away from Born To Die, Ultraviolence showcases Del Rey’s artistic evolution and prowess in the most exquisite way.
Highlights: Cruel World; Shades of Cool; Brooklyn Baby; West Coast; Sad Girl; Money Power Glory
Over and out, internet x