2017 may have been a terrible year for anyone with a Twitter account, but it was arguably much better for anyone with Spotify premium. While the world fell apart around us, the artists we love -- and a few we'd never heard of before -- were there to make things better or at least give us music we could have a cathartic cry to.
While is was difficult to narrow down all the excellent releases of 2017 into such a small list, there were a few records (and one mixtape) that were clearly in a class of their own. In no particular order, these were our favorite albums of what was otherwise a garbage fire of a year.
SZA - Ctrl
SZA's debut album is equal parts lush, sensual, damning, lost and hopeful. Who can resist the lure of "Love Galore," and the hypnotic pull of "The Weekend." Few artists had the insight into modern love and the frustration of being "Twentysomething" in 2017 that SZA did.
Oblivia - Martyr Complex
New Orleans DIY sorceress Oblivia makes music explicitly for and about queer people. Using distortion and effects to siphon different voices and personas as a way to evoke an idea of sonic womanhood, Martyr Complex is a captivating meditation on identity in the face of the apocalypse.
Kehlani - Sweet Sexy Savage
Kehlani seemed to come entirely out of left field this winter, but it seemed that as soon as Sweet Sexy Savage was out, it was everywhere. It's impossible not to vibe with standout tracks like "Distraction," "Undercover," and "Escape." Kehlani is the effortlessly cool girl you desperately want to hang out with, and her album manages to make you feel like you are hanging out with her.
Lorde - Melodrama
Lorde was not kidding when she named her sophomore album. There's angst and tears, the pain of getting over your first love. From the first line of "Green Light," she had us hooked. Few albums this year had the kind of clever lyrical complexity this young artist is able to deliver (I still get chills thinking about, "I care for myself the way I used to care about you").
Paramore - After Laughter
Who knew that the pop punk band best known for a song called "Misery Business" could make hands down the brightest and most energized album of 2017, full of snappy beats paired with darkly introspective lyrics. We are so here for Paramore's second life as a band less consumed with being alternative and more interested in making great pop music.
Mhysa - Fantasii
Mhysa's gorgeous fantasii is an ode to black femmes -- heady, riotous, powerful and dreamy. The self-proclaimed "Queer Black Diva" culls together the sounds of nightclubs, bedrooms & churches for a brilliant first solo LP.
Charli XCX - Number 1 Angel
How is it possible that Charli XCX released two mixtapes this year and didn't make a single video for either, and yet they both almost made it onto this list. While this month's Pop 2 is the logical conclusion of Charli's ongoing obsession and collaboration with PC Music, Number 1 Angel is simply untouchable. It's a mixtape full of earworm bangers you can't stop listening to, including a bonafide love song about Charli's drug dealer.
Lana Del Rey - Lust For Life
As someone who didn't die for Honeymoon, I lived for Lust for Life. The album really made the best possible use of Lana's love of orchestral arrangements and cinematic scope. Simply put, it's a god damned beautiful record. If only she would stop making tracks with The Weeknd.
Hercules & Love Affair - Omnion
Hercules & Love Affair's triumphant return is moodier and more meditative than The Feast of the Broken Heart. Not every song on Omnion is one you want to dance to, but that doesn't make the album any less engaging. Omnion prioritizes emotion over energy, and manages to synthesize the two into something truly lovely.
Arca - Arca
For anyone obsessed with Bjork's recent offerings, they would be nothing without the work of arguably the most innovative producer currently making music. Arca's eponymous LP is a sonic nightmare you never want to wake from.