We’ve run you through our Top 50 to 41, 40 to 31, 30 to 21, and 20 to 11, but here it is, the countdown we’ve all been waiting for. DIY’s top 10.
10. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted ManIn an era marred by regurgitating audition shows and fast-tracked new stars, pop music is suffering. Upon this most dingy backdrop however, Bat For Lashes’ third album shines as an exemplary beacon of what can be achieved within the mainstream, given great ambition and artistic integrity. Echoing the personable oddness and intrigue of greats like Kate Bush and Björk, Natasha Khan has come of age when we needed her most. All hail the saviour of British pop music. (Ian Paterson)
9. TOY - TOYSo many bands seem fixated on creating grotesquely mismatched Frankenstein genres; it’s almost as if simply playing the music that you enjoy just don’t cut the mustard anymore. To be honest TOY are just too busy creating sprawling psychedelic soundscapes and listening to ‘Daydream Nation’ to worrying about that sort of nonsense. This is a confidently nostalgic effort filled with weird, hypnotic layers of krautrock-tinged guitar; ‘TOY’ is one of the most exciting debut efforts of the year. (El Hunt)
TOY tell us about their debut over here.
8. Chairlift - SomethingLosing one of their original members and shedding their iPod-advert image in the process - this year, Brooklyn based duo Chairlift released their sophomore album, ‘Something’. Full of saccharine melodies, unashamed 80s pop influence and sultry indie ballads; Polachek and Wimberly have crafted an album that combines irresistible hooks, a la ‘Amanaemonesia’ and more downtempo introspective numbers such as ‘Cool As A Fire’. A record that deals with the double-edged sword of love, Chairlift have proved they really are something. (Aurora Mitchell)
Read our interview with Chairlift here.
7. Alt-J - An Awesome WaveThe most talked about album of the year, and with good reason. Four years in the making, AAW sounded pretentious on paper (triangles, anonymity, mumbled lyrics), but the quartet had actually cooked us up ten delectable, perfectly formed pop songs, with delicate moments (‘Matilda’) as well as ear-splitting ones (‘Fitzpleasure’). It was fantastic, and all of a sudden, teens, mums and grandparents had started scrutinising the lyrics for innuendos and worshipping triangles, and the band had become Radio 1 staples, Mercury Prize winners and Brixton Academy headliners. A consummate start. (Huw Oliver)
6. Diiv - OshinDIIV began as an outlet for Beach Fossils guitarist Zachary Cole Smith to indulge in his own song writing fantasies. From extremely primitive beginnings in Cole Smith’s bedroom DIIV have swiftly evolved into a fully-fledged band responsible for one of 2012’s finest debuts. ‘Oshin’ is a stunning album full of enchanting charms. The lissom smooth guitars and mellifluous rhythms intertwine wonderfully. DIIV are not interested in making a statement, instead they show that sometimes the pure crystalline beauty of a guitar sound can be even more resonant than the most emotive voice. (Martyn Young)
You’ll find our DIIV interview over here.
5. Frank Ocean - Channel OrangeThere have been few more talked about musicians in 2012 than Frank Ocean. The one thing Frank Ocean should be remembered for this year above all else though is his staggeringly good major label debut. ‘Channel Orange’ is a 21st century R&B odyssey. Its 17 tracks offer sprawling invention, spiralling ambition and a deeply personal and touching heart. Ocean is equally adept at soul bearing reflection or effortless swaggering insouciance, on the landmark single ’Pyramids’ he manages both over the course of it’s compelling nine minutes. Frank Ocean can do it all. (Martyn Young)
4. Japandroids - Celebration RockWith 2012’s think-pieces condemning the homogeneity and blandness of the musical landscape, Japandroids’ ‘Celebration Rock’ thankfully reminded us how foolish such statements can be. Fuelled by a relentless barrage of vivid, vibrant fists-aloft odes to the good times, it took Titus’ Andronicus’ well-oiled template of Springsteen-turned-to-11 and then ran yet another mile with it. Like walking amidst the debris of a bloody good party, the final notes of album-closing ‘Continuous Thunder’ leave you simultaneously wondering what just happened and knowing whatever it was provided a glorious, euphoric experience. (Gareth Ware)
3. The Cribs - In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’ is the sound of The Cribs reconnecting with their roots. Shorn of the melodic guitar inflections of Johnny Marr the Jarman brothers fourth album is a far more visceral and emotionally fraught record. Despite sonically having much in common with their earlier albums though, it is also their most ambitious record. A four-song, album-closing suite recorded in Abbey Road offers a brilliantly grandiose example of the record’s expanse. Add in the typically balls out punk rock thrills of the Steve Albini produced ‘Chi Town’ amongst others, and you have the perfect Cribs album. (Martyn Young)
Read our chat with the Jarman brothers.
2. Grimes - VisionsMake no mistake: ‘Visions’ is a breakthrough record in more ways than one. It’s an album defined by gloriously ambitious and accessible slanted pop (‘Genesis’, ‘Oblivion’) and even greater experimental feats (‘Be A Body’, ‘Skin’). Grimes’ previous albums achieved no such balance. They gave hints of great ideas but they never expressed them with such alarm and immediacy. This album has the potential to influence emerging bands for decades and it’s more than cemented Claire Boucher as one of our most beloved talents. (Jamie Milton)
Click to read Claire Boucher chat about ‘Visions’ here.
1. Liars - WIXIWIn a world of identikit rock bands Liars stand unique in their relentless experimentation and unremitting sonic adventuring. And ‘WIXIW’ is a glorious testament to that; a melting pot of noises, samples and vocals which merge to form what could be their finest record, and that’s saying something.
Despite being made on computers this is their most overtly human record (just listen to ‘The Exact Color Of Doubt’, a gently beautiful ode to not knowing). At once both their most accessible and their most intense, ‘WIXIW’ is an album that reveals new layers after every listen. We’re lucky to have this band in our lives. (Danny Wright)
So that’s it, Liars’ is our favourite album of the year, it’s official, and we had to grabbed some words with Angus Andrew to let him know. Same time, same place next year?