Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in May 2024

Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in May 2024
Album anniversaries: Three records to celebrate in May 2024 Copyright Jagjaguwar - Polydor - Capitol
Copyright Jagjaguwar - Polydor - Capitol
By David Mouriquand
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From devastatingly intimate love songs to hip-hop bangers via lush soundscapes for a Parisian escapade, here's our pick of the three albums celebrating a major anniversary this month.


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

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

Turing 10 in 2024: Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

(Release date: 27 May 2014)

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Sharon Van Etten – Are We ThereJagjaguwar

'Are We There', confusingly titled without a question mark, is an absolute gem of an album. It is the fourth from American singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, and in it, she offered up an urgent collection of simultaneously swoon-worthy and haunting songs that were hands down her best at the time of release. 

Since then, she’s gone on to release 2019’s intoxicating 'Remind Me Tomorrow' and 2022’s 'We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong' – arguably her greatest albums to date. Still, 'Are We There' is that album which confirmed she was truly special, one that more than delivered on the promise of her breakthrough LP ‘Tramp’. 

Many know it or came to it because they heard Van Etten perform the album’s song ‘Tarifa’ on Twin Peaks: The Return. Hopefully they went on to discover the rest of the LP, whose standouts include ‘Taking Chances’, ‘Your Love Is Killing Me’ and ‘I Love You But I’m Lost’. As you can tell by the titles, there’s a lot here about love, loss, and the volatility of feelings. What sets Van Etten apart when it comes to these themes is her lyrical knack for embracing both the romantic and the anti-romantic, sharing intimate yet universal snippets that feel like she’s peeling back a bandage to reveal a specific wound that you automatically understand and connect with. And for anyone who has ever felt love slip away from their grasp because of the realities of life with another person, or the devastating comprehension as to why a loved one leaves you behind, 'Are We There' hits hard. 

Van Etten delivers confessional and self-aware odes to the devastation feelings can leave behind, and while that sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, it isn’t. Especially when it sounds this damn good. It all culminates in the album’s best track, the breathtaking closer ‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up’, which distills complex feelings into simple but affecting terms, and sums the album up quite well: there’s poignancy (We broke your glasses / But covered our asses / Take time, silently feel); wry humour (People say I'm a one-hit wonder / But what happens when I have two?); flippant confessions (I washed your dishes / But I shitted in your bathroom); and a delivery of the titular line that will get you every time. 

All in all, an achingly intimate, dense and engrossing listen that looks heartache straight in the nipples and decides to twist. Sometimes to inflict pain. Often as a mark of recognition. And repeatedly with a smile that can only come through acceptance of life's zigs and zags. 

Actually, this may very well be her best album.

Also turning 10 in May: British singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey’s debut album ‘First Mind’, featuring the stunning track ‘Fever To The Form’; Christine and the Queen’s award-winning breakthrough album ‘Chaleur humaine’.

Turning 20 in 2024: Feist – Let It Die

(Release date: 18 May 2004)

Feist – Let It Die
Feist – Let It DiePolydor

Recorded in Paris with Chilly Gonzales and Renaud Letang, 'Let It Die' is Canadian singer-songwriter Feist’s sophomore album, and the one that introduced her to a wider audience. 

The album was a hit in Europe, specifically France, with listeners vibing with a certain je ne sais quoi that does make this album the perfect soundtrack should you wish to head to the romantic quarters of the French capital and indulge in that most wonderful of terms: flâner

The Broken Social Scene vocalist let go of her previous indie rock sounds somewhat and this second album was a more chamber pop and chilled out affair. From gentle opener 'Gatekeeper' to heartbreaking jazzy lament 'Lonely Lonely', via the significantly more upbeat 'Inside and Out' and the album highlight 'Mushaboom', it's a glorious collection of songs that haven’t grown old as they turn 20. The whimsy and romanticism haven’t aged also, even if the boundless optimism that can be found on a lot of these tracks shouldn’t overshadow some of the excellent lyricism at play. 

"The saddest part of a broken heart isn't the ending so much as the start" stands out on the title track, and the gentle pop melody on the aforementioned ‘Mushaboom’ (still no idea what it means) shouldn’t stop lines like “It may be years until the day / My dreams will match up with my pay” and “We'll collect the moments one by one / I guess that's how the future's done” from burrowing themselves into your head once more. 

Happy 20th 'Let It Die'. Your irresistible charms have not.

Also turning 20 in May: The folk goodness of Devendra Banhart’s 'Rejoicing in the Hands'.

Turning 30 in 2024: Beastie Boys – Ill Communication

(Release date: 31 May 1994)

Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
Beastie Boys – Ill CommunicationCapitol

Bit of a change of pace after the first two albums for this month’s anniversaries, as we embrace how three Jewish boys from New York continued to change the hip-hop genre.

Following the commercial success of their debut album ‘Licensed to Ill’ (1986), their Dust Brothers-facilitated sonic left-turn that was the sampling opus ‘Paul’s Boutique’ (1989) and their ever-so-slightly disappointing 'Check Your Head' (1992), the trio released 'Ill Communication' on the last day of May in 1994. And it was a return to form, becoming the band's second number-one album in the US – with a string of hits including 'Get it Together', 'Root Down', 'Sure Shot'... and of course, 'Sabotage'. 

The latter, beyond being a banger and a timeless rebellion anthem, has been used in so many movie trailers it elevates any promo to greatness. 

Fun fact for all you wonderful nerds out there: director Danny Boyle has credited the opening credits of 'Sabotage' and its video as the influence for the beginning of Trainspotting. And like the album as a whole, the song is riotous, bombastic and abrasive in all the right ways. 

It’s also worth noting that Ill Communication isn’t just about fun-sized hits – influences like Miles Davis clearly informed some of the album’s grooves, which makes some of the instrumentals the best the Beasties ever put their name to. 


Only topped by 'Paul’s Boutique' (and maybe 1998’s 'Hello Nasty', if you’re of that persuasion), 'Ill Communication' is the band at their genre-hopping best. 30 years later, you try not shouting along to these tracks when they come on. 

Go on – dare you to Ch-Check It Out on its thirtieth.

 See you next month!

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