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Lord it’s hard narrowing down any year to 40 or 50 albums, and near impossible to get it down to 30 in a good year. And 2017 was a good year.

Not surprisingly then, in coming up with the 30 best albums of this year there were some quality ones which missed out, such as David Rawlings’ Poor David’s Almanack, Offa Rex’s Queen Of Hearts and Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger In The Alps.

But the ones which made the cut are strong, varied and rewarding, the top 10 in particular all stunners - any of them capable of being named the best of the year. And you can still buy one or more of them: feed a musician, they’re great around the house.

You can read reviews of each album by clicking through, and hear the albums streamed the same way. As a bonus there is a playlist featuring a track from each of the 30 right here.

So many ways to enjoy my pick of the best music of 2017.

1. LAURA MARLING – Semper Femina

Folk rock given a rhythmic, exploratory and brilliant turn with a strong take on what it means to be, and to know, a woman. Album of the year.

2. THE XX – I See You

Sensual and mature, where mournfulness intersects with an ache that’s part emotional, part physical.

3. NADIA REID – Preservation

A gripping, dark but still hopeful exploration of quiet music and turbulent emotions.

4. HOLLY THROSBY – After A Time

Intimacy and pleasure stretching out through acute observations.

5. THE NATIONAL – Sleep Well Beast

Adult rock with the intensity of experience and their usual inventive propulsion, but with new power and anger.

6. AIMEE MANN – Mental Illness

Sublime melodies in muted ‘70s pop full of closely drawn characters.

7. SZA – Ctrl

Slow grooves, need and the power of a woman who won’t accept second best.

8. DRAKE – More Life

Sprawling, circuitous exploration of multiple voices and styles.

9. ST VINCENT – Masseduction

A not-so-silent film-as-album with desire and destruction paired, set to art pop, disco, rock and something else again.


Haunting and quiet, though anything but ephemeral.

11. OUMOU SANGARE – Mogoya

Reclaiming modern sounds to take Malian music back to the future.

12. THE WAR ON DRUGS – A Deeper Understanding

Elegant mix of classic rock and stoner moves.

13. ALEX LAHEY – I Love You Like A Brother

Fizzing guitar pop that grabs at life.

14. MARGO PRICE – All American Made

Smart, traditional country sounds with soul and politics to flavour it all.

15. JEN CLOHER – Jen Cloher

Vivid, potent lyrics set to music that takes rock and indie pop in hand.

16. COUSTEAUX – CousteauX

Grand pop and dramatic moments melding Scott Walker and Burt Bacharach.

17. BJORK – Utopia

Free roaming melodies, renewed optimism and art put to good use.


Using anger to great effect over beats as powerful as the lyrics.

19. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – American Dream

Familiar modern anxieties set to Afro-funk, art rock and downtown disco.

20. VINCE STAPLES – Big Fish Theory

Lean, sinuous R&B carried on distorted instruments and electronica sounds.

21. JULIE BYRNE – Not Even Happiness

Manipulating silence and poetry in songs that mix mysticism and vulnerability.

22. SAMPA THE GREAT – Birds And The BEE9

Funk soul hit up by sharp edged rhymes and some pop tunes.


Found sounds, the voices of Welsh miners, history and fluid musicality.

24. PRINCESS NOKIA – 1992 Deluxe

Wildly varying musical styles and delivery, with exciting energy to refashion hip hop.

25. SONGHOY BLUES – Resistance

Maturity and improved songwriting lift young North Africans from promising to impressive.

26. THE WEATHER STATION – The Weather Station

Neither folk nor rock but a sweet spot between them, with electric sounds backed by strings and emotional complexity.

27. IRON & WINE – Beast Epic

Gorgeous songs returning to a solitary, quietly moving, country folk style but with richer sound and a newfound hopefulness.

28. HOLY HOLY – Paint

Making expressive, traditional rock with just enough restraint to aim for grand rather than grandstanding.

29. THE SMITH STREET BAND – More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me

A view of Australian maleness that is neither macho nor scared to be, powered by vigorous punk/pub rock.

30. SAM OUTLAW – Tenderheart

Relaxed country that nods to ‘70s pop songwriters as much as the traditional names and stays gentle on the mind.

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