A great single keeps you dancing and whistling, and can whisk an artist from the bedroom to the main stage in what feels like an instant. But you sense that lots of producers leave some part of themselves in the workshop, which helps explain the enduring appeal of the artist album. This is the format where producers can say, "I am this. But I'm also this and this, too." Their style has room to develop, to stretch out, to turn over new sides or flip back around to old ones. For listeners, it's a chance to crawl into an artist's creative space and discover new sides to their personality. You might find a favourite cut or two, but with great albums, you want to spend time with the whole thing. The listening experience is as much about the moment before and the moment after as any individual one.
Björk - Vulnicura
On Vulnicura, her best album in years, Björk took the stalest of subjects—the breakup—and created something revelatory. Through nine direct and hauntingly beautiful songs, the record explored and exposed her breakup with long-term partner Matthew Barney. Simple, timeworn laments—"My soul torn apart"—found a fresh resonance and, at times, were excruciating to absorb, Björk's voice placed nakedly front and centre. In the back, Arca and The Haxan Cloak helped shape the stately, string-washed arrangements, the arena for Björk's sorrow and redemption.
LNRDCROY - Much Less Normal
It's been out in one form or another for 18 months and we still can't get enough of it—LNRDCROY's debut album is the epitome of a slow-burner. Even its most upbeat tunes unfurl gradually, letting you savour every vintage drum sound and slouching synth lead. Much Less Normal sleepwalks from pensive ambient to gentle techno. Its perfectly laid-back approach to dance music makes it a definitive document of the burgeoning Vancouver sound.