Top 10 album disappointments of 2017

 

Below I’m only counting albums I actually listened to from start to finish. Included are releases that either were hyped, or I was familiar with the artists previous work. Notice there’s no Arcade Fire in the list, who received a fair amount of backlash. I actually enjoyed what they did on Everything Now. I can’t include Morrissey’s LP Low in High School below, because I found it overly preachy and couldn’t even finish! Sorry Rol. In no particular order:

 

 

Blade Runner 2049 by Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch

Blade Runner 2049 by Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch
Works fairly well with the images and a big sound system in the cinema. As a stand-alone experience at home the new score is unremarkable and a chore to sit through. What generated much of the emotion and atmosphere in the 1982 film was Vangelis’ beautiful soundtrack, which is endlessly playable and my favorite soundtrack of all-time. Perhaps because of a tight schedule after Jóhann Jóhannsson dropped out, Zimmer/Wallfisch are unable to deliver music that gives you chills. A work-man like soundtrack, but not something extraordinary. In fact, Hans Zimmer’s score for Dunkirk this year is more powerful.
There are brief moments of brilliance, but they are all too short. A modern synthesizer piece that stands out is during Mesa, a segment that is repeated in the track Blade Runner. There’s a haunting outro on That’s Why We Believe, and parts of Sea Wall are beautiful. This soundtrack isn’t Zimmer’s best work and I disiked Almost Human by Lauren Daigle. Should have hired Vangelis. My rating is for the stand-alone listen. Just to be clear, I’m not rating the Elvis and Frank Sinatra songs.

 

 
Glasshouse

Glasshouse by Jessie Ware
Boring, vapid love songs, with the occasional pop single (Midnight, Selfish Love, Alone). The closer Sam feels more personal and experimental. Tough Love (2014) is her most emotionally fulfilling album, and the LP she’s done with the least amount of filler, and most replay value.

 

 

 

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Songs of Experience by U2
Calling it a disappointment is probably a bit of a stretch, U2 haven’t been on top form in a while. Slightly better than Songs of Innocence. The new album is second-tier U2 and contains many average songs. The non-single Lights of Home is probably the album highlight.
The Blackout (a bit too long) could have been a single. Has a strong bassline and is the only track that gave me semi-chills.

 

 

 

the national sleep well beast

Sleep Well Beast by The National
To me, despite the critical praise, it’s a lesser album from a band I usually like. Has the familiar Berninger baritone and melancholy, though the lyrics didn’t resonate as deeply as previous National albums. Walk It Back goes for tongue-in-cheek-ness but isn’t as potent as their serious music.
Wasn’t a fan of the production choices. At times, the drum programming, electronic sounds, and keyboards are frankly annoying.  That said, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness and I’ll Still Destroy You (about self-medication) are powerful and superbly written. Doubtful Sleep Well Beast has the same replay value as their earlier work.

 

 

DAMN by Kendrick Lamar.jpg

DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
Album of the year? Not even close. Very overrated and a disappointment considering his previous work. Well-written here and there, but unenthralling and rather boring presentation. Lacks memorable tracks. Humble has a punchy piano melody, although it’s quite repetitive and I disliked the lyric. Album highlight Fear has a smooth beat, sampling 1973’s Poverty’s Paradise by The 24-Carat Black. Not as accessible as To Pimp a Butterfly. For hip hop fans only.

 

 

 

American Dream by LCD Soundsystem.jpg

American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
I don’t understand the high ratings and praise in the press. The songs are overlong and a struggle to even finish. The synthesizer often sounds cheap, although I did like the end of the track American Dream.
As others have said, reminiscent of Talking Heads, only not as effective. The good news is the writing is satisfying.
Call the Police and Oh Baby are the strongest moments on an album that I didn’t enjoy.

 

 

 

Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes.jpg

Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes
Disappointing and overpraised third album. The vocal is distinctive, but the melodies are inaccessible and unmemorable. Goes in a progressive-folk/jazzy direction. ”Naiads Cassadies” and ”On Another Ocean” are quite beautiful. Maybe it’s an album I just didn’t understand.

 

 

 

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Wonderful Wonderful by The Killers
I enjoyed Brandon Flowers’ 2015 solo album The Desired Effect, unfortunately this new Killers album is not nearly as good and lacking in emotion. The Man is a catchy pop single, although I disliked the over-confident lyrics. I’ve read the song possibly is a sarcastic jab at those in our culture who believe that they really are sitting on the throne, men who say with a straight face, “I’m the man!”. I still find the swagger distasteful.
I like Some Kind of Love which is the only track here that made me feel something.
The 80s inspired synth production on Tyson vs. Douglas works, and it arguably ought to have been a single, but again, the lyrics should have been better, about a 1990 Mike Tyson boxing match.

 

 

 

Oczy Mlody by The Flaming Lips.jpg

Oczy Mlody by The Flaming Lips
I’ve listened to the majority of their LPs and this is among The Flaming Lips’ least memorable. Wants to be atmospheric, but too many dull moments. The vocal is uninspired and the only zeal I noticed was on the track The Castle. The first half of the album is weak. The opening two songs are too similar. Sunrise is ok yet sounds like rehash.
One Night While Hunting surprised me and is when the album finally kicks into gear. The second half of the album is stronger for production choices and atmosphere and saves it from being a total misfire. Best to just go back and listen to Flaming Lips in their prime.

 

 

 

I Tell a fly Benjamin Clementine.jpeg

I Tell a Fly by Benjamin Clementine
Too discordant and weird. He sounds drunk! Didn’t care for the sudden tonal shifts. It’s experimental, yes, but not in an enjoyable way. The best song is Quintessence for its heartfelt outro.

 

 

 

What do you think? Which albums underwhelmed you this year? As always, comments are welcome. I’ll be back soon with my top 10 albums of 2017, I promise it will be more optimistic!

12 thoughts on “Top 10 album disappointments of 2017

  1. Honestly, I haven’t really listened to a lot of new music this year except for NIN. As far as U2 is concerned, I’m not surprised by the fact that their new album sucked. Shit, they haven’t really made a great album since All That You Can Leave Behind and they’ve become everything they’ve rallied against in the beginning but also display that holier-than-thou bullshit as if they are the band that matters. They haven’t mattered in years and Bono…. is still a turd.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ninvoid99: Yes, U2 are past their best, but I did find a couple of good songs on Songs of Experience, as I alluded to in the post, so it wasn’t a total waste of time!

      Like

  2. I can only comment on three of these entries, but I agree with you on all of them. The respective albums by Benjamin Clementine, Fleet Foxes & LCD Soundsystem are at worst woefully poor and at best underwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @The Swede: New Fleet Foxes & LCD Soundsystem I like specific songs from, though as album experiences I wasn’t keen. Nothing against Benjamin Clementine as a person, but his record was simply too strange for me.

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  3. Ouch. Sleep Well Beast and DAMN. might be my top two choices for albums of the year. The only album I can think of offhand that was a total disappointment this year was the new Arcade Fire. Just couldn’t get into that at all.

    BTW, digging the move to WordPress!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Eric: I really wanted to enjoy Sleep Well Beast and DAMN, unfortunately both didn’t click with me. Happy to see you and other appreciated what they went for. I think I’m in the minority calling them disappointing albums, so you’re in the majority 🙂 I vaguely remember you like King Krule-his 2017 album is in my top 5 of the year.

      Thanks for still reading, now at a new site!

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  4. The only album I’ve heard here is Kendrick’s, no surprise. However, I quite liked it. It’s not To Pimp a Butterfly, but I did enjoy a good deal. The last sentence in your synopsis might be the best explanation. It is one for hip-hop fans. Still, I don’t think that goes far enough. I think it’s for a certain type of hip-hop fan, one that’s willing to dig into the lyrics through repeated listenings. It’s light on mass appeal and heavy on introspection, I tend to gravitate towards albums like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough point Dell, and you make a good defence of DAMN. I just couldn’t get into it aside from Lamar’s song Fear. Many love the album however and it’s #1 on albumoftheyear.org in both Users Best & Critics Best.

      This year, I found my introspection in other music. Just posted my top 10 albums of 2017 🙂

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  5. Can’t disagree with any of the ones I own. The National we’ve discussed before. Not their best, but there was just enough there to save it for me. That said, I’ve since heard a couple of other albums which would have knocked it out of my Top 17.

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  6. @Rol: I may have been a bit harsh on The National, as it’s not all disappointing as you say. I just didn’t enjoy the production values on Sleep Well Beast. If it was produced like their previous LPs I might have liked it better. Still a few nice songs and lyrics, and critics appear to have no problems with the new electronic elements-that I disliked.

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  7. I’m going to have to agree with you on U2 and The Killers. I wasn’t a big fan of The Killers to begin with, but their newest album was far from great. I’ll have to disagree with you on Damn from Kendrick Lamar, though. I personally really liked it.

    Like

    1. @film4fan: Thanks for the follow! I enjoyed “Some Kind of Love” on new Killers album, not much else though.

      Kendrick Lamar is talented and To Pimp A Butterfly I consider one of the best LPs of the 2010s. Damn was okay but I expected more from him. Glad you really liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

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