Here we are then, our favourite five tracks from 2014. We only had a couple of rules when putting this list together and if you need reminding of them, you’re in luck as here they are. We have purposefully used quite a loose definition of ‘tracks’. We are not looking at singles only but tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months. The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.
Before we reveal the top five, here’s a quick link-a-thon to the other Tracks of the Year posts and the previous 20 of our favourite songs of 2014, should you have missed any of them or just fancy a reminder.
Now then, here we go with our Top 5 favourite tracks of 2014. Enjoy.
#5 The Night VI – “Heroine”
The Night VI is another band that had a very good year that culminated with the release of an extremely high quality EP and a case could easily be made for any of its tracks to feature on a best of list. Our favourite though, the one we are addicted to, is “Heroine”. It’s been subject to a couple of stunning remixes (particularly this remarkably cinematic and bold rework from Joseph Reuben) but it is the original that has stayed with us, that has slipped into our consciousness and often slipped out of our mouth as we sing and hum it to ourselves without realising. Sophie-Rose Harper’s vocals are just a dream as the track intoxicates with its melty melody and silken synths. We remain hooked.
#4 Yumi Zouma – “Riqulme”
We wrote recently about our love for Yumi Zouma so their appearance here should be no surprise. Given said love, choosing a favourite of their tracks was quite difficult but we’ve plumped for the sublime “Riquelme”.
The soft, elegant vibe of Yumi Zouma is a thing of beauty and here the subtle 80s nods they employ include a hint of Wendy and Lisa nuanced Gwen Stefani. “Riquelme” is a poignant soft focus look at relationships, all low lighting, candles and glasses of wine, tears and heartbreak. Listening to it is like drifting along on a deserted river, shoes off, a hat covering your eyes from the glorious sunshine and toes dipped in the water making barely a ripple as you pass by. Wildlife watches, undisturbed as you float calmly across gorgeous melodies and a cool caressing breeze of vocals brushes your face.
#3 Lauren Aquilina – “Forest Fires”
We’ve often spoken about the personal nature of music and how it affects each of us differently, how little things in a song can mean so much to one listener yet completely pass others by. “Forest Fires” by Lauren Aquilina was a track just like that. It might not have meant anything to many, but to us it remains a heavenly and heavily emotive piano ballad that hit us like a sledgehammer to the soul.
Simple, elegant and so very poignant, “Forest Fires” is a tale for the silent masses that suffer day in, day out, fighting a battle with our own psyche that we can never win. For each of us who think so little of ourselves that we are convinced the world thinks even less, yet paradoxically can only ever believe that the pain or anguish of a loved one is our fault.
It’s like a vast empty room, bathed in darkness and that Lauren’s voice soars and cracks in equal measure, heavy with emotion and torment like a single beam of light, broken by dust and splinters of wood in the roof, shining down on a lonely figure. It’s powerful and heart-wrenching and even now, having played it countless times, we still get goosebumps as she cries out “I don’t blame you” as the song reaches its destination and then, as Lauren sings the faint, brittle coda of ”who would ever want to be around me?”, our heart breaks just a little bit more.
#2 Spring Offensive – “Hengelo”
We’re massive fans of Spring Offensive (they placed first on our 2012 Tracks of the Year list for example) so 2014 was one of wonderful highs and depressing lows for us regarding Oxfordshire’s finest. They finally released their debut album Young Animal Hearts (which was completely fantastic) but also announced the cessation of their existence as a band. At the start of the year they have given, and then by the end they had taken away. Still, at least they left us with a brilliant collection of songs, perhaps our favourite of which is “Hengelo”.
With its unusual but intriguing subject matter, Spring Offensive did what they do best and looked beyond the narrative and into the emotion and motivation, for the humanity within. Here they deal in the mundane moments of life that can accumulate into the extraordinary; the feelings we experience everyday and likely don’t notice until it is too late. They seek and see the daily stresses of life and the unseen breaking points inside us all, reach in and mould them into songs that glide and rise, that send shivers down your spine as you recognise the reality within them but that raise you up on their deft arrangements and sublime melodies and remarkably catchy tunes.
#1 Vérité – “Weekend”
Another year, another favourite track and here today, there’s another genre represented by the winner. When Verité popped on the scene earlier this year it was immediately obvious that another sensational new pop artist had just been discovered and now, months later and with “Weekend” still played at least once a day, we feel even more confident that it is only a matter of when the chart bothering will begin for her.
Why do we love “Weekend” so? Simple reasons really, it is freakish just how infectious it is, how it compels movement, no matter how small, as you listen; it behoves a boogie. The lyrics are suitably catchy with a deliciously sing-a-long chorus and her vocals are just perfect for the dance-pop realm she inhabits. It is a pop masterpiece and one we cannot help but adore and enjoy time and time again.