The best pop CDs of 2017

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 pop CDs of the year, voted for by Readings' staff, and displayed in no particular order.

(You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2017 here.)


Jen Cloher by Jen Cloher

Australian music goddess Jen Cloher’s newest LP is an impeccable set of tight, heartfelt rock ’n’ roll songs. The self-titled album is a rollicking, revealing beauty that considers fame, love and marriage – as always, Cloher pulls no punches with her dry, clever lyrics. Jen Cloher is sure to be a new Australian classic.

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Sleep Well Best by The National

Seven albums in, The National have cemented their position in the American indie rock canon with Sleep Well Best. Always a brooding and melancholy band, their new LP is darker still. Illustrated by a more progressive sound that incorporates synths and vocal effects, Sleep Well Best shows that,even after 16 years, The National continue to evolve.

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Lotta Sea Lice by Kurt Vile & Courtney Barnett

In 2017, droll guitar-shredding singer–songwriters Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett finally – inevitably – collaborated on an album. Lotta Sea Lice ponders ‘intercontinental friendship’, writing songs, and the little things in life. Vile and Barnett volley witticisms across nine lovely, guitar-driven songs – the perfect album to listen to while sitting on the porch on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

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Melodrama by Lorde

Melodrama is Lorde’s critically acclaimed, long-awaited follow-up to 2013’s smash Pure Heroine. The 20-year-old has matured and it shows. Ecstatic synth beats form a solid platform to showcase Lorde’s sensational voice, her catchy-as-hell hooks and wise-beyond-her-years lyrics. This is a new take on club music, and a masterful, dramatic album from a pop prodigy.


Painted Ruins by Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear can be difficult to categorise. A band with pop, folk, jazz and psych-rock leanings, eclectic instrumentation, and gorgeous vocal harmonies, they’re reminiscent of The Beach Boys. Painted Ruins builds on these trademarks and makes for an upbeat, more danceable – but no less beautiful – record this time around.

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Poor David’s Almanack by David Rawlings

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this LP is a re-release of a long-lost folk album from the 1940s, but listen closely. David Rawlings’ (and long-time collaborator Gillian Welch’s) brand of old-timey, American folk owes a lot to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, but the lyrics of Poor David’s Almanack give a modern twist on a traditional genre.

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A Deeper Understanding by War on Drugs

The War on Drugs are known for their soaring and introspective songs, and A Deeper Understanding – a meandering, psych-rock reverie of a record – is no different. Building on their last album Lost in the Dream, which dealt with depression and loneliness, singer Adam Granduciel still evokes classic American heartland rock, but this time inflects it with a little more inspiration and hope.

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Life is Fine by Paul Kelly

On his 23rd album, Australia’s poet laureate is feeling optimistic. Life is Fine – a shop-favourite for sure – is an upbeat, joyful set of songs. Naturally, each track is packed with clever, narrative lyrics and sung with Kelly’s characteristic everyman style. With guest spots from the inimitable Linda and Vika Bull, Life is Fine is fun and quintessentially Paul Kelly.

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Semper Femina by Laura Marling

Laura Marling, the ephemeral English folk singer, is back with the sixth album in her short but prolific career. At only 27, her emotional, piercing, no-bullshit songs have garnered her critical acclaim. Semper Femina is affecting. Heavy on strings, which accompany Marling’s acoustic guitar, the instrumentation serves to emphasise her words – and Marling’s lyrics are just as beautiful as her voice.

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Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes

Another long-awaited album: American neo-folk darlings Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up comes six years after their last. They have returned with another musically rich record, which doesn’t skimp on their trademark vocal harmonies. Uplifting and expansive, the Robin Pecknold-fronted band don’t hold back; each song is meticulously crafted with a complexity that goes beyond the generic boundaries of ‘folk’.

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Life is Fine

Life is Fine

Paul Kelly

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