As we prepare for another year of amazing new releases, SAVAGE music writers TARA CARLIN AND LAURIE CHEN reflect on their favourite records of 2014, in no particular order.

FKA twigsLP1

Starting with perhaps the most hyped release of 2014, this debut full-length from enigmatic artist twigs had music journalists from both sides of the Atlantic rushing to fill column inches with praise. Does it deliver? Yes, but in a deliberately dark and unsettling way. Critics may claim that her distinctive visual aesthetic and elaborate production leads to music which is more ‘style over substance’, but the often uncomfortable emotional depth of her songs is never far from the surface. This brave, striking debut arguably remains one of the year’s most interesting records. [LC]

CaribouOur Love

Canadian producer Dan Snaith’s first full-length release under the alias Caribou in four years certainly does not disappoint. It explores love and intimacy in all its various guises, from the simple directness of standout single ‘Can’t Do Without You’ to the unspoken cracks first starting to appear a relationship, hinted at in ‘Back Home’. As you would perhaps expect from such a veteran of electronic music, Snaith’s cut-glass production and expertly crafted sounds result in a record that showcases intelligent ‘dance’ music at its very best. [LC]

– No Mythologies to Follow

Scandinavian artist Karen Marie Ørsted, better known as  (pronounced “moo”, indeed like a cow) released No Mythologies to Follow in March. An album that candidly depicts the uncertainties of twentysomething life, it completely sells the Electropop phenomenon to the listener. Her strongest tracks like ‘Pilgrim’ and ‘Slow Love’ are those where she takes the risk of producing grimy, gritty and hypnotic pop. Additionally she has an electric stage presence as witnessed at Pitchfork Paris on Halloween. [TC]

Perfect PussySay Yes to Love

The harsh, reverb-filled sound of this Syracuse noise-punk band’s debut may be far from easy listening, but once you get past the initial abrasiveness then frontwoman Meredith Graves’ lyrics really begin to shine. Chronicling the messy aftermath of a recent break-up, they deserve to be recognized as poetry in their own right due to their searing emotional honesty. ‘When did we all decide to give up? / Since when did we say yes to love?’ she implores the listener on ‘Interference Fits’. The rest of the album offers no easy answers. However, the frenzied, life-affirming energy of its songs prove that navigating through the emotional wreckage of her personal life is ultimately a cathartic process. [LC]

ClarkClark

The brilliance and inventiveness of Clark’s latest offering have been detailed at length elsewhere on SAVAGE, but the release deserves to be included on our list nevertheless. Far from being a typical example of electronic, techno or dance music, the LP arguably challenges the narrow confinements of musical genre altogether. The song I’ve included below, while not taken from the album, gives a glimpse of the extraordinary skill and subtlety that goes into creating his music. [LC]

St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Both the Guardian and the NME have championed St. Vincent’s fourth and self-titled album as the best album of 2014, and it is easy to see why. The record contains a fountain of innovative ideas that do St. Vincent’s talent and imagination justice. Her electronic, apocalyptic style certainly isn’t afraid to criticise the modern issue of technology addiction. A lyric from ‘Digital Witness’ explores our obsessive need to document and share our lives: “What’s the point in even sleeping/ If I can’t show, if you can’t see me?” The artist was right to call this album “a party record you could play at a funeral”; it is lively and stimulating, but does not censor harsh realities. [TC]

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Even from the first two tracks, it is clear that this record deserves to be rated the second-best album of 2014 by the Guardian. The opening song ‘Under the Pressure’ is the ideal introduction, a perfect soundtrack for travelling, with its profound lyrical composition in unity with the glimpse of brass to accelerate the consistent serenity. The euphoric and inspiring exhilaration that oozes from ‘Red Eyes’ is even more electric live, it would make you fist-pump even when entirely inappropriate. The tone settles to dissolve into a languid vibe with ‘Suffering’, but is still entirely enticing. [TC]