These past few years, at least since Your EDM has been keeping track of Top 10 Albums of the year, have been a phenomenal resurgence of the long-play format for dance music. It’s not even that albums weren’t a thing before 2014 or 2015, but their frequency was certainly less so than now. It seems that every week some artist has a new album coming out.
A lot of that has to do with just how many artists there are now, with more coming out of the woodwork every day. A lot of it also has to do with the rise in streaming and the accessibility of music. And some of it just has to do with artists having more to say and communicate through their art. No matter the reason, as listeners, we’re blessed to have so many unique and engaging artist projects to enjoy.
This year, there were easily over 100 albums released that were either deeply embedded in the dance music world or adjacent to it. Debut albums, second albums, first albums in over five, six, seven years, you name it, it was put out this year. Narrowing the list down to just ten that were exemplary beyond all the rest is never an easy task, but it’s a challenge we enjoy. Not everyone will agree with these choices, but without a doubt, these are ten albums that truly made a mark on 2019 and will continue to be played years from now.
10. Avicii – TIM
Listening to TIM with that mindset is tragically bittersweet. After all, it’s always easy to implant your own interpretations on an artist’s music after they’ve passed, especially if they’ve taken their own life. (Think Chester Bennington’s music with Linkin Park.) That being said, much of TIM is incredibly bright and hopeful with uplifting melodies and powerful writing.
9. Karma Fields – Body Rush
Spanning 14 tracks, BODY RUSH is a sultry, smooth, and energetic album that calls upon influences from James Blake, ZHU, and more. The result is a diverse and powerful album that plays on all the strengths of Karma Fields while continuing to push the boundaries of what that brand means. Only four tracks from the album were previously released as singles, leaving fans ten fresh and brilliant tracks to listen to for the first time.
8. DJ Snake – Carte Blanche
Carte Blanche is a sizzling collection of seventeen tracks, including previously released singles “Taki Taki” and “Enzo,” which, between just the two of them, count Sheck Wes, Offset, 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, Selena Gomez, Ozuna, and Cardi B as collaborators. Other guest appearances on the album include Zomboy, Majid Jordan, Zhu, Tchami, Malaa, Mercer, Bryson Tiller, J Balvin, Tyga, Sean Paul, Eptic, Burna Boy, Gashi, and more. To break it down math-style, there is an average of 1.35 collaborators per track on the album.
7. Delta Heavy – Only In Dreams
Delta Heavy manages to evolve and grow beyond their first album by leaps and bounds, keeping hold of their raw and pure sound, all while pushing it further. The rock and melodic elements incorporated in Only In Dreams, like in “Here With Me” and “Show Me The Light,” demonstrate an observable growth as artists that’s truly wonderful to see.
6. Big Wild – Superdream
Now, Big Wild has taken the next step in his musical evolution, having released his debut album, Superdream, on Counter Records. Not only has the album racked up over nine million streams on Spotify alone, he took Big Wild on the road for a solo headlining tour, playing to sold out crowds across the country.
5. Illenium – Ascend
There’s no two ways around it — Ascend is a fucking brilliant body of work. This is by far Illenium’s greatest album and his most daring endeavor as an artist. Jumping from 12 tracks on his debut album Ashes to 13 on his second album Awake, and then 17 on Ascend is indicative of just how much of a story Illenium has to tell.
4. SebastiAn – Thirst
8 years after his last album, Total, SebastiAn decided to grace the world with his new album Thirst — and ironically, it quenched exactly what the title described. This album is wildly satisfying in ways that on Ed Banger can supply. With a uniquely French touch, SebastiAn manages to fly through genres and influences in a way that tells a narrative rather than just putting one track after another. From the first “BWOOOOOOOM” of the opening track, “Thirst,” the album sets the tone for the remaining hour and four minutes. And what an enthralling hour it is.
3. Fox Stevenson – Killjoy
It’s hard to think of another album without any features that has had so much of a true album vibe. Pioneers like Robert Delong and Big Data come to mind, but no one so firmly rooted in the EDM world as Fox. With his brilliant combination of pop lyrics and melodies with drum n bass tempos, this is by far one of the most unparalleled listening experiences of the year.
2. Flume – Hi This Is Flume
From front to back, he is unapologetically himself throughout this entire mixtape. Odd canters and off-beat patterns revolve throughout the atmosphere and justly applied vocals fill the void in between, providing just enough backing for the pulsating rhythms strewn almost carelessly between tracks. I say carelessly, but it’s truly a careless perfection. Like the artist he is, it feels like Flume threw paint at the wall and it just happened to turned out flawless.
1. Madeon – Good Faith
The 35-minute album is truly a holy experience. The title Good Faith is actually frighteningly apropos as many of the tracks exude a combination of gospel influence and French house stylings. But the album isn’t religious in that sense, it’s more “spiritual” as Madeon himself would put it.