Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in April 2024

Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in April 2024
Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in April 2024 Copyright Future Classic / Opulent - FatCat - Columbia
By David Mouriquand
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From downtempo Australian electro to a holy grail of hip-hop, via one of Iceland’s best kept secrets, here's our pick of the three albums celebrating a major anniversary this month.

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Every month of 2024, Euronews Culture takes a trip down memory lane and handpicks a trio of albums celebrating a major milestone.

(January, February and March’s trios can be found here.)

These are the three records you should choose to (re)discover as they respectively turn 10, 20, and 30 this April.

Turing 10 in 2024: Chet Faker – Built On Glass

(Release date: 15 April 2014)

Chet Faker – Built On Glass
Chet Faker – Built On GlassFuture Classic - Opulent

Turning 10 mid-April, this electro neo-soul debut from Chet Faker isn’t necessarily an album for the ages. However, if you’re in the right mood, it hits the spot. Especially if that mood happens to be sultry canoodling under the bedsheets.

Before the Australian singer-songwriter (whose real name is Nicholas James Murphy, in case you thought that his stage name implied he was a cousin twice removed from Baker) released his debut album ‘Built On Glass’, he made a name for himself with his promising EP ‘Thinking In Textures’ and by collaborating with fellow Aussie Flume. He went viral after releasing a brilliant cover of Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’ - which was featured in a 2013 Super Bowl commercial. Safe to say that his debut LP was eagerly anticipated.

Many were disappointed by the vocal performance, but the minimalist restraint throughout works – making ‘Built On Glass’ as delicate as its title suggests. It’s an album of two halves. The first six songs honour Faker’s chill-out, slow-downed jazz and Motown influences, with tracks like ‘Talk Is Cheap’ and ‘Gold’ standing out. The first is arguably the album’s strongest, a brassy and warm song perfect for a naked Sunday morning in bed with your legs intertwined around those of your significant other; the second is a more up-tempo disco-inspired pop track which is by no means less sensual. The second half of the album, marked by an interlude which encourages you to “relax still more and drift a little deeper as you listen”, is more rhythmically adventurous. Standouts include ‘Blush’ and its looped synths, ‘1998’ and its entrancing house beat, and the textured / Postal Service-esque ‘Cigarettes And Loneliness’.

Again, none of it amounts to a stone-cold classic, and there’s no (diggity, no) doubt that Chet Faker peaked here. However, if you’re looking for a laid-back record that conceals riches behind its modesty (whilst luxuriating in that early morning lovemaking mood), this is an excellent choice.

Also turning 10 in April: Eels' eleventh studio album 'The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett', which is very underrated.

Turning 20 in 2024: múm - Summer Make Good

(Release date: 12 April 2004)

múm - Summer Make Good
múm - Summer Make GoodFatCat

múm (stylized in lowercase) were dealt a bit of a rough hand.

Breaking out in the early 2000s, at the same time Sigur Rós were getting their big break and Björk was riding high off the back of a flawless three-album streak (and about to drop her masterpiece ‘Vespertine’), the Icelandic quartet entered a scene which was seemingly a full house.  

To drop the protracted playing cards bit and venture into another metaphor, múm weren’t always the bridesmaid - they were relegated to ring bearer.

Their second album, 2002’s ‘Finally We Are No One’ - despite seemingly confirming the statements above - was a luscious and delicate post-rock affair that was equally as moody as Sigur Rós, but sweeter, and far more whimsical. It got them some press but hardly the same sort of love their fellow Icelanders were enjoying.

The third studio album, 'Summer Make Good', wouldn’t change that, despite being the unsung jewel in their discography. It’s a darker, more experimental project, something which relies almost entirely on brooding instrumental compositions reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Newly a trio, with the departure of cellist Gyda Valtýsdóttir, the band leaned into heavier electro glitches, eerie drones and wall-of-sound stylings which conjured ominous images of rocks battered by the cold sea and desolate landscapes haunted by angry ghosts. Some tracks perforated the menace set up by the likes of ‘Weeping Rock, Rock’, like the stunning ‘Nightly Cares’ and its beautiful trio of trumpets, as well as the intimate ‘The Ghosts You Draw On My Back’. The rest of the album could have made for the ideal horror soundtrack (listen to the opening of ‘Stir’ and you’ll get the picture), with Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir’s lone voice often sounding like something you’d hear in the background of Rosemary’s Baby.

Much like Sigur Rós’ first two albums, this arresting and otherworldly 20-year-old effort has the capacity to mess with your head. However, take the time to get a decent set of headphones, dim the lights, and listen. You’ll be enveloped in a world of cracks, hisses, creaks, samples, and the occasional glockenspiel - all courtesy of a band who still stands as one of Iceland’s best kept secrets.

Also turning 20 in April: The Zutons' debut (and best) album 'Who Killed the Zutons?'

Turning 30 in 2024: Nas – Illmatic

(Release date: 19 April 1994)

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Nas – Illmatic
Nas – IllmaticColumbia

Having celebrated the 50 years of the genre last year, one of hip-hop's holy grails turns 30 this April, and it’s not an anniversary to skip.

It’s rare that an artist drops an instantaneously legendary album, especially when it’s their first, but that’s exactly what Nas accomplished in 1994 with the release of ‘Illmatic’. The then 20-year-old newcomer hailing from Queensbridge, New York, released his debut to little chart success; however, it was never under any doubt that he emerged as a “verbal assassin” out for the crown. And he got it, as ‘Illmatic’ is now recognized as a landmark album in East Coast hip-hop, as well as one which directly contributed to the revival of the New York City rap scene.

From the smooth flow, the spellbinding collage of sounds and jazz samples, to his sophisticated lyrical prowess, Nas set a new benchmark, one which captured the essence of growing up in the projects of NY and America’s ills on a wider scale. Over the course of 10 tracks, with 'N.Y. State of Mind', ‘Halftime’, ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’, ‘One Love’ and ‘The World Is Yours’, the rapper managed to cast a timeless spell. Thirty years on, it remains, alongside Madvillain’s ‘Madvillainy’ (which turned 20 last month), one of the most influential hip-hop albums of all time.

“Life’s a bitch and then you die”, Nas insisted on the track ‘Life’s A Bitch’. 

He’s hardly wrong – but his debut’s legacy is one that still has a long shelf life ahead of it.

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Also turning 30 in Apirl: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds' 'Let Love In' - more on that album here; The Offspring's third studio album 'Smash', featuring the anthemic singles 'Come Out and Play' and 'Self Esteem'; Blur's 'Parklife' - which wasn't picked because we already did a piece on their best albums here; country legend Johnny Cash and his stunning 81st album (81st!!) 'American Recordings'.

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