At this time of year, when every music hack is desperately trying to scrabble together their end of year lists, it’s easy to forget about EPs. You’ll see a lot of posts this month that celebrate the greatest albums and singles 2017 had to offer, but there’s little love left for the EPs, the records that—as Britney famously sang—aren’t a single, but not yet an album. So let’s look back at some of the best mini releases you might have missed over the last 12 months.
Paradise – Anohni
After the devastation of 2016’s HOPELESSNESS, Anohni suggested something a little more optimistic with her 2017 EP Paradise. Despite its title though, Paradise deals with the same destructive themes of HOPELESSNESS, with Anohni’s gaze still fixed firmly on doom and gloom. Tracks like ‘Jesus Will Kill Me’ and ‘She Doesn’t Mourn Her Loss’ don’t offer much in the way of easy-listening, but Anohni’s deft hand somehow turns these death-harbouring titles into careful, entrancing melodies. The EP offers a home for tracks that should have featured on HOPELESSNESS, her determined, ferocious spirit just as fiery here and the tracks equally evocative and rousing. For a record that’s essentially an overflow from her last album, Paradise is remarkable in its quality, confidence and downright excellence.
Ten Years – Aly & AJ
After a ludicrously long wait, the Michalka sisters are finally back with this neat little four track collection. It’s frustrating for fans who were hoping for a full album, but Ten Years is nonetheless a fulfilling listen composed of plush, 80s-inspired synth tracks. From the sugary crush of ‘Take Me‘ to the shimmery bop of ‘I Know‘, Aly & AJ are on superb form, their tracks having developed a stylised elegance thanks to the cushiony synth arrangements and easy melodies. It’s a delectable listen, and one that will hopefully lead to something a little more substantial in 2018.
Solo – Brandan Maclean
Brendan Maclean continues his quest to queer pop music to its limit with an EP of diverse and sparkly pop songs. From the funky house vibes of ‘Rot’ to the sci-fi club sound of ‘Inside Outerspace’, Solo lays bare Maclean’s knack for crafting interesting—and exceptionally fun—tracks that straddle a breadth of genres. Though we’ve already harked on about the bold, unapologetic queerness of his music before, it’s important to remember that these songs aren’t just notable for their unabashed queerness, but also simply for being great tunes. Maclean shows off his skills as a versatile pop maestro on Solo, an EP that’s as accomplished as it is diverse.
Shirk Life – Good Boy
Brisbane trio Good Boy channel the slacker rock of Courtney Barnett but through a pointedly political spectrum on their six track EP Shirk Life. Behind the chilled-out surf rock is a band disillusioned with mainstream politics as seen on the likes of ‘Hell In A Handbasket’ and ‘Fishing With A Shotgun’ that sneer at neo-liberalism and posturing politicians. But most apt is opening track ‘A Waste Of 122 Million Dollars (Taxpayer Funded)’, a condemnation of Australia’s recent marriage equality referendum featuring the beautiful line “We don’t all see from eye to eye / But your opinion doesn’t matter” before imagining an ‘indiscreet’ wedding between two guys. With young Aussies like these, Australia might just be alright after all.
Alice Glass – Alice Glass
It feels fitting that Alice Glass’ debut EP should be eponymous after former Crystal Castles bandmate, Ethan Kath, publicly discredited her contributions to the band. On her solo EP, Glass proves not only that she brought more than her fair share of talent to the group but also details the alleged abuse she suffered at Kath’s hands. Though when the EP first dropped earlier this year Glass had made no such public allegations, she has since come forward to name Kath as the abuser referred to throughout the EP. From the dark electronic embrace of ‘Without Love’ to haunting closing track ‘The Altar’, Alice Glass is an EP that challenges and disorients, unleashing waves of fury and sorrow that often border on overwhelming. But Glass aims to overwhelm. Her EP is an attack on the senses, a disquieting horror show that leaves you feeling hollow and helpless. It’s masterful, brave and unfortunately, in a year dominated by news of sexual abuse, horribly relevant.
Full review here.