And so we reach the end of another year; twelve months of great music and even better albums. After countless arguments, tantrums and break downs, DIY’s writers have created a definitive list of unmissable releases from the last 365 days (well, give or take - it’s only the start of December - Ed) - the very best albums of 2011. Here you’ll find numbers ten to four. Enjoy.
Read DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 50 - 41 here.
Read DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 40 - 31 here.
Read DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 30 - 21 here.
Read DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 20 - 11 here.
10. Adele - ‘21’
What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular, but Adele’s second full-length ‘21’ seems to be one thing the British public can all agree on. With the album’s perpetual placing at the elusive Number One spot this year, it’s difficult to imagine a Top 20 Albums list without it. The aural equivalent of a good stew, ‘21’ is hearty, warming and irrevocably British, filled largely with soaring ballads. Whilst not a huge departure from debut ‘19’, it shows Adele in a darker, more mature light. (Harriet Jennings)
9. The Weeknd - ‘House Of Balloons’
A surprise attack in music is difficult to manage, yet it was swiftly accomplished by The Weeknd, aka Canadian singer Abel Tesfaye. His smoothly electronic brand of modern soul, originally hidden behind his moniker, injected a welcome shot to the world of R&B with the free online release of ‘House Of Balloons’. It’s a record packed with subtle dubstep dabbling and a surprising collection of alternative samples, including a title track that took a Siouxsie & The Banshees beat to new levels of woozy meandering. It all culminates in a dizzying nocturnal LP that shatters previously concrete moulds. (Adam Parker)
8. Gang Gang Dance - ‘Eye Contact’
‘Eye Contact’ is a record unlike anything else. Gang Gang Dance have always been a band who create their own universe, in which ecstatic futurist-pop sounds collide with tribal rhythms and banshee cries – and this is the perfect continuation of their evolution. Featuring songs about reincarnation together with joyous swooshes of otherworldly noise, ‘Eye Contact’ is a spiritual album from the future. The ideas just keep coming. At times you get lost in the vastness of the alien sounds and the ambitions - the only solution is to give into this mindmelting piece of work. (Daniel Wright)
7. St. Vincent - ‘Strange Mercy’
On first glance Annie Clark appears the very picture of innocence with her porcelain complexion and demure exterior. Indeed, you may be forgiven for double taking when she produces dark, subversive gems like ‘best, finest surgeon, come cut me open.’ In ‘Strange Mercy’ Clark is at her most complex and intriguing. Whether a song is slow burning or exploding with synth-pop, it is completely absorbing. St Vincent manages to pair unsettling lyrics with approachable music, and like the hidden darkness beneath Clark’s cheery outward appearance, the juxtaposition in this album is what makes it so brilliant. (El Hunt)
6. Girls - ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’
This was the record that cemented Girls’ place as one of the most exciting guitar bands of 2011. From the moment their six-and-a-half-minute-long single ‘Vomit’ was released in July, it was clear that the sophomore album from the San Francisco duo was going to be a bit of a belter - and it didn’t disappoint. Borrowing heavily from 1960s guitar bands, ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ is jam-packed with perfectly-sculpted and unpredictable pop songs - but it’s the album’s tender heart that really makes it one of the year’s best releases. (Sam Lee)
5. The Antlers - ‘Burst Apart’
The Antlers’ 2009 debut ‘Hospice’ set tongues wagging, but didn’t reach out to the mainstream that should have welcomed it. Nevertheless it stirred up a gorgeous, quiet storm that’s built on here. Songs have a graceful, ghostly edge – ‘No Widows’ recalling the dusky clouds of Guillemots’ ‘Walk The River’; ‘Parentheses’ soaring spacily like Wild Beasts – and a big sound is made without sacrificing pure, intimate feeling. There are mild surprises in the horn-led finale of ‘Hounds & Putting The Dog To Sleep’’s clanging guitar, but in the end ‘Burst Apart’ relies on its own wounded, static grandeur. (Matthew Horton)
4. Wild Beasts - ‘Smother’
When the 2011 Mercury Prize nominees were announced in July, complaints were clear. Across the board, both fans and bands alike named Wild Beasts’ ‘Smother’ as being criminally omitted from the short list. The Kendal band’s third album sounds like no-one else’s; there are electronics, heavy rock elements fitting in nicely with Tom Fleming’s vocals and Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto that refuses to be tamed. Further, while the word “arrangement” might meet derisive glances in most circles, Wild Beasts prove arrangement plus rock can lead to fantastic results. (Mary Chang)