2015 served up a broad range of excellent tunes from a broad range of artists. Here, in no particular order, are the songs that struck us as the standout moments of 2015…
Flesh without Blood – Grimes
Art Angels invited debate amongst Grimes fans, with some suggesting that it had wandered too far from the quirk and charm of her earlier work.
Whatever your stance, the album delivered some good songs, including ‘Flesh without Blood’ which offers bassy rhythms and rolling percussion – a perfect foundation for Boucher’s strong yet airy vocals.
We Are Strangers – Princess Chelsea
Returning with the bleak splendour that is The Great Cybernetic Depression, New Zealand’s Princess Chelsea delivered a solid selection of tunes.
One of the album’s finest moments however is the spacey widescreen pop of ‘We Are Strangers’. The song offers up a sepulchral wall of synth for a lyrical foray into the world of relationships. If Jonathan Bree’s heartfelt delivery of lines like “I would kill technology/Just to know you well” don’t raise the hairs on your neck, then nothing will.
Fade Away – Susanne Sundfør
Norweigian artist Sundfør swiftly delivered one of 2015’s finest albums with the release of Ten Love Songs in February. Operating from a distinctly electronic foundation to her music only sweetened the deal.
‘Fade Away’ is one of the standout tracks, a pure electropop moment whose strengths lie in the way Sundfør overlays and utilises her vocals for effect. “This is the kind of love that never goes out of style”. Indeed.
Sunscream – Princess Century
One of the featured tracks, ‘Sunscream’, sees Postepski go disco with a Moroder-esque sequence of bass beats and spacey melodic trills. A perfect example of the “minimalist cosmic disco psychedelia” that Progress delivered.
I Believe – Lola Dutronic
Lola Dutronic’s Lost In Translation is easily one of the year’s best electropop releases with its catchy electronic melodies and quirky lyrical narratives.
‘I Believe’ offers a straightforward love song with a yearning vocal from Stephanie B. “I believe that we could last forever/if we could only get together” could be viewed as an adolescent lyric on paper, but it’s given a particular charm and a particular power on this serving of wistful pop.
Forget – Marina & The Diamonds
Marina returned with the excellent Froot album in 2015 – serving up a selection of material that delved into self-doubt and introspection and picks at darker themes.
‘Forget’ is one of Froot’s hidden gems with catchy hooks and a euphoric chorus. It’s lyrical themes of regret and moving forward utilise Marina’s smart wordplay as she regrets the times spent chasing rabbits when “I was born to be the tortoise/I was born to walk alone”.
Bros – Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice put indie rock back on the map with the strength of the My Love Is Cool album, but perhaps the one track that brought them to the attention of the music masses was this one.
‘Bros’, with its lyrical shout-out to adolescent friendship, is a superbly simple yet captivating rock/pop tune. “I’ll keep you safe, you keep me strong” – The breathy vocals of Ellie Rowsell weave in and out of dense layers of guitars on one of the album’s finest moments.
After The Flood – Vile Electrodes
There’s a particularly strong contemporary electronic music scene still unfolding and Vile Electrodes continue to demonstrate why they’re one of the best outfits to emerge from the UK front.
Culled from their 2015 EP Stark White, this studio version of After The Flood appeared as one of the bonus tracks on the second CD. There’s a melancholic vibe on this hypnotic number with its broody synth fills and Jane Caley’s captivating vocals.
Lama – Ummagma
Shauna McLarnon and Alexander Kretov have crafted their own particular brand of dreampop under the banner of Ummagma for a number of years, leading to the release of the Frequency EP this year.
The pair managed to secure the talents of both Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and Mal Holmes (OMD) to lend their own touches to remixes based on ‘Lama’. It’s not surprising that Holmes’ take on ‘Lama’ gives the track more of an electronic tone and mood, albeit crafted in the trademark warm synths that OMD proved so good at across their musical career. There’s even some subtle choral effects thrown in for good measure.
Since When – Fifi Rong
One of the more surprising music acts to emerge in recent years, Fifi Rong’s sultry vocals have invited listeners into her unique world of ethereal soundscapes and dark dreams.
The languid strings and mesmerising vocals on ‘Since When’ (taken from her new EP release Violently Silently) keep that theme going on a lush, immersive number.
The Shatterproof Man – Girl One & The Grease Guns
The Shatterproof Man – Girl One & The Grease Guns
There’s a cryptic element to Girl One & The Grease Guns that adds to their allure. With a garage punk sensibility to their material that often suggests early OMD combined with 60s girl groups, there’s a simple joy to be had with their songs.
The Shatterproof Man delivers more of the same with its simple percussion and wall of synth approach. An album is also scheduled for the near future.
Dance Move Feel – Dancing With Ruby
Their 2015 album In The Interest Of Beasts marked out electropop duo Dancing With Ruby as one of the UK acts to keep an eye on. Put together by Matt Culpin (formerly of Northern Kind) and featuring the vocal talents of Charlie Sanderson, the duo have crafted some simple, yet captivating electronic music that manages to sound fresh and inspiring.
Culled from the same album, ‘Dance Move Feel’ delivers pure electropop joy with its busy rhythms and catchy melodies.