St Andrews Sands: Part Thirteen

As we know all too well, as lovable and quaint as St Andrews is, there come moments where not even the sight of the never-ending North Sea can alleviate the feeling that we’re being held hostage within the town’s three streets.

Here’s a thought: imagine if you were stranded on the sands of St Andrews..?

Taking inspiration from BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, every week our resident writers will deliver their choice of albums, to be their one and only soundtrack, if they were ever forever stranded on the beaches of St Andrews…

Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

If I’m stranded on the beach, I’m going to need an album I can sing along to, and it’s Lykke Li’s ‘Wounded Rhymes’. Combining sexy, low-key hits like ‘Youth Knows No Pain’ and ‘Get Some’, with soul-wrenching ballads like ‘Unrequited Love’, this Swedish singer’s second album has everything you need for a lazy day. Her voice is so unique, with an interesting scratchy quality carried by a cool confidence. When the album was released in 2011, I was in my penultimate year of high school. I was entranced by the delicate melodies and poignant lyrics; it was as if Lykke Li had forseen my teenage struggles and wrote the songs I would need to survive them. I am indebted to this album for the emotional release I felt at each listen. Although I no longer feel pain with the same tragic intensity that I did back then, I still love this album and probably always will.

Cults – Cults

This album always makes me think of the summertime. The lilting percussion and Madeline Follin’s soprano vocals sound upbeat on every single track, brightening up some of the more depressing songs. Biting lyrics like, “I just wanna live my life and you’re just in my way” on ‘Go Outside’, take on a deceptively cute quality. Even the music video for this song is about Jim Jones’ famous cult, Peoples Temple, but the song is so bubbly and fun that many people do not even notice. Follin and fellow band member Brian Oblivion seem to be able to spin any tragedy into gold, including their own break-up. The two were dating when they wrote Cults in 2010, but broke up in early 2012. Since then, they have managed to keep the band together and write a new LP entitled Static. I have enormous respect for the duo and their feel-good indie pop vibes.

Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

This album is unlike any I have ever heard before. It is a monstrous musical achievement, boasting a sweeping command of genres, a powerhouse of featured artists and the ability to bring all of these disparate elements into a cohesive piece of work. The songs can stand on their own, however, each containing its own singular message and vision. According to Damon Albarn, the musician behind most of the virtual band’s sound, ‘Plastic Beach’ was inspired by all the plastic that mixed in with the sand on the beach by Albarn’s house. Thus the album has been labeled a “concept album” by critics, which I agree with. Every time I listen to it I find something new that I hadn’t heard before, a new layer of meaning. I could never get bored of this formidable and complex record.

James Blake – Overgrown

I first heard about James Blake when he made the timeless song ‘CMYK’, and since then he’s fascinated me with his innovative beats and beautiful voice. His sound has moved on considerably since then, moving into more of an alternative R&B genre. The overall tone of the album is mournful, as Blake ponders his own permanence as an artist: “I don’t wanna be a star, but a stone on the shore”. Featuring artists like RZA and Brian Eno, Overgrown demonstrates that Blake has graduated to a new level of maturity. He even won the Mercury Prize in 2013, beating David Bowie for the award. David Bowie!

Shlohmo & Jeremih – No More

I have to admit that at first, the idea of an album combining these two artists did not seem like the best idea. They are of course fantastic on their own but I never foresaw their collaborative effort being much more than mildly enjoyable. Turns out I was very wrong. No More is in fact the sexiest, slow jammiest collection of songs I have ever heard – even the album art is just a topless woman surrounded by pink roses. It’s just fantastic. Listen to it. You can download it for free. Plus Chance the Rapper is featured on the last song. I rest my case.

SBTRKT – SBTRKT
This is the album that needs no real introduction. Aaron Jerome’s first record is fresh, pioneering sounds that have been filed under the hilarious category “post-dubstep”. After years of listening, I have concluded that none of the songs are bad. None of them are boring, repetitive or too weird. ‘SBTRKT’ is simply a completely solid collection of tunes that are all excellent in their own right. This is incredibly rare. I could listen to this album on repeat forever. Aaron Jerome, the man behind the mask – I salute you.

Words: Sophie Vandenbroucke