So apparently there’s only a couple of weeks left of the world. Obviously that’s nonsense, but still, it’s always worth looking at the best music that’s come out this year. As dubstep continued it’s growth and spread into the world of pop, a lot of other genres were pushed under the radar. So it’s time to dig out some of the gems in what was actually a widely impressive year for music (despite the best efforts of those at X Factor); welcome to the best albums of 2012. Queue the Top of the Pops theme.
10. Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
I hate myself for this. I was trying to think of things that were out there and inspiring. Then I realised; music is for enjoyment. And Beacon delivers for that, no doubt. Although lacking in musical creativity, the band from County Down seemed to have lost their nerves for this album and blasted out the catchiness present from Tourist History (2010) with newfound confidence. The lead single ‘Sleep Alone’ proved to be a little bland and almost another album track from Tourist History, but once you divulge yourself in the depths of this album, their new sounds comes clear. Tracks such as ‘Handshake’ and ‘Someday’ have that indie-disco sound that few have successfully found before. Quite a step forward for the band and a thoroughly enjoyable, if a little poppy, album.
9. Django Django – Django Django
This self titled album from the Edinburgh foursome is like nothing else this year. Bringing back an old synth sound with a modern twist in the punchy lyrics and clean guitars, Django Django have a refreshing new sound. Widely acclaimed, this album was one that really went straight over the heads of much of the music industry. The group are deservedly on their way to great things, psychedelia doesn’t get much better than this. Here’s a personal favourite from the album, ‘Default’.
8. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
This Iceland based band seem to have created a blend between the styles of Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons that really works; My Head is an Animal is an album that brings an electrifying feel to folk music. As pointed out by contactmusic.com, the band have stated that ‘Iceland can be a very isolated country and that translates to the music.’ This shines through, but fortunately in a rather upbeat fashion. Of course, the song ‘Little Talks’ has to take the title as the lead track from the album, but its brilliance makes that more than okay with me.
7. Hot Chip – In Our Heads
Finally, the band I’ve admired for years has made a consistent album. Whereas its predecessors, most notably; One Life Stand and The Warning seemed to be a couple of singles then a bunch of album fillers, In Our Heads is a professional and invariably excellent album. One of the best synthpop albums in history, this isn’t one to be missed, and it seems the Guardian agrees with me!
6. MUSE – The 2nd Law
Any year that MUSE release an album, it’s more than likely to reach the top ten of the year. Not because critics have got lazy, but because Matt Bellamy is one of the greatest musicians of our time. The 2nd Law proves that MUSE can hit any genre they want with an authentic, individual twist. From the dubstep influenced ‘Unsustainable’ to the funky sound of ‘Panic Station’, MUSE nail it every time. By far the best live act I’ve ever seen and arguably my favourite band from history. You would have thought that by their sixth album they’d be running out of ideas, but no. Oh, and not to forget that ‘Survival’ was chosen as the official track to the London 2012 Olympics, that’s pretty special.
5. Mumford & Sons – Babel
This band have done wonders for folk music. Although some may not see this as a particularly good thing, personally I love it. Mumford & Sons have to be the masters of crescendo. With each of their songs building beautifully, Babel is a thoroughly enjoyable album. There’s arguably a lack of progression from their last album, but that’s fine by me. Particularly impressive tracks include ‘I Will Wait’ and ‘Lover of the Light’.
4. Elbow – Dead in the Boot
Who’d have thought that an album composing of B-sides could be this good? As stated by The Independent, the album doesn’t seem exhaustive or a simple set of bland songs put together for the sake of money. Elbow have always prized B-sides with a high level of musical ability. Dead in the Boot is a carefully selected group of songs, forming an incredible and thoroughly original album. I’m struggling to think of a particular highlight on this outstanding album, but take a listen to ‘Lullaby’.
3. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
What isn’t there to love about this album? From it’s use of the Playstation One’s start-up noise to the sublime beats, Channel Orange is near perfection. And that’s not to mention Frank’s lyrical ability and his general (and I know this is a cringe word but here goes…) coolness. There. I said it. And I don’t even care because Frank Ocean has to be the definition of the word. I don’t mean this artificial meaning of cool that hipster kids seem to have adopted. I mean natural coolness. The sort of thing that Will Smith held in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Where you could do whatever you want and it seems sauve. That. Anyway, musically, the album is fantastic. R&B isn’t really my chosen genre, but when it’s done right, it can sound incredible. And that’s why Mr. Ocean has made it to my top 3 albums of the year.
2. The XX – Coexist
So close to gaining the top spot for this year, The XX’s second album, Coexist, continued their incredible path through the musical world. Filling a gap in the market that most of us didn’t even realise was there, The XX’s fluid and exemplary style is unquestionable. Coexist is crafted like a sculpture by Michelangelo, faultless. The thing that hits you about this album is the added meaning on top of the impecable music basis that was set out in their self-titled, debut album. Bringing a new level of passion and liaison to their music, Coexist is undoubtably one of the best albums of the year. Speaking of romance, here’s ‘Angels’, a track that NME describes as the ‘boldest valentine the band has ever recorded.
1. The Weeknd – Trilogy
So here it is. Number One. For me it just had to be The Weeknd’s Trilogy. Abel Tesfaye and the aforementioned Frank Ocean seem to be singlehandedly revolutionising R&B. Cool beats and bluesy lyrics are what the genre should be about, and no one does it better than The Weeknd. One of the best artists in any genre right now. Trilogy was one of the most critically anticipated albums this year and boy did it deliver. With remastered hits such as ‘Wicked Games’ and ‘House of Balloons’, along came new tracks such as the excellent ‘Valerie’ and the incredible ‘Twenty Eight’. I cannot get enough of the Weeknd and for that reason, Abel had to grasp my top spot for this year’s best album. I’ll be listening to this one for years; one of the most talented artists we’ve been graced with for a long, long time.
So, that’s it for the best albums of 2012, it’s been a superb year for music. Naturally, everyone’s opinions vary, so have any of you guys got a view on what the best album was for 2012? Please comment below or tweet me, @OllieMattTurner. Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoyed reading!