Words: Saam Das
And lo, our list of the fifty most stupendous albums of 2011 finally comes to a close. Thanks to all our contributing writers, namely: Rajan Lakhani, Simon Opie, Emily Arc, Jon Sidwell, Emily Solan, Jack Thomson, Raman Kamboh and Kieran Toms. Some honourable mentions which didn't quite make the list include efforts by: Laura Marling, Oneida, Oneohtrix Point Never, The Antlers, Low and Metronomy. Feel free to add any others we missed out in the comments below.
Links to the other parts: 50-31 // 30-21 // 20-11 // 10-1
10) Jay Z & Kanye West - 'Watch The Throne'
Two heavyweights of the hip hop world combined to drop one of the year's most anticipated releases. For those who lay in wait, it did not disappoint - for them, Jay-Z and Kanye West sit side by side on their respective thrones.
9) Slow Club - 'Paradise'
A more polished effort than their debut but equally as charming, 'Paradise' saw the re-birth of Slow Club as an act here to stay. Still with the same twee-folk heart but with a newer, darker outlook.
8) Drake - 'Take Care'
Such is Drake's standing in the hip-hop world that he commanded appearances on his second album from the likes of Rihanna, The Weeknd, Lil Wayne, Andre 3000 and Nicki Minaj. Combining many moods from bravado through to sadness over the course of 18 tracks, Drake's aspirations were much appreciated by a selection of FG writers.
7) James Blake - 'James Blake'
One of the most polarising artists of the past year but one who impressed several FG writers with his ambitious debut self-titled album. Emerging from the dubstep scene, Blake created something unique, minimal and experimental - admirably executing his bedroom-born vision.
6) Arctic Monkeys - 'Suck It And See'
The blistering start to their career seems long ago but the impressive songwriting skills remain. "A mature and gentler approach has revealed a romantic side to the band that they’ve previously shyed away from at times." (Emily Solan, full review of 'Suck It And See' here) Special mention must also go to frontman Alex Turner's solo EP, which superbly soundtracked the film 'Submarine'.
5) Ghostpoet - 'Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam'
Spearheading a movement for engaging UK hip hop along with the likes of collaborator DELS, Ghostpoet's "terrific debut" was nominated for the Mercury, and according to at least one of our writers, "should have won" (Simon Opie, other words here).
4) Fleet Foxes - 'Helplessness Blues'
Well worth the long wait to follow-up their acclaimed self-titled folk debut. "It separates them from bands they are often categorised with, showing a greater depth and understanding of their inspirations such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Byrds, Elliott Smith and the Beach Boys."(Rajan Lakhani, full review of the album here)
3) Bon Iver - 'Bon Iver'
Justin Vernon's 2008 debut 'For Emma, Forever Ago' was widely considered as the top record of that year and Vernon has returned to deliver another beautifully heartfelt record. Except this time, he's brought a full band with him, presenting a richly layered sound that makes this album arguably superior to the debut.
2) The Horrors - 'Skying'
It's difficult to imagine this is the same band that began in a shambolic, sub-garage-rock style. Their second album, 'Primary Colours', warranted a reappraisal of their talent and with their latest effort, "The Horrors have matured into one of the most innovative bands alternative music has to offer" (Rajan Lakhani, full review of 'Skying' here)
1) Wild Beasts - 'Smother'
Yet again pipping The Horrors to the post, following their victory in our inaugural "alternative Mercury music prize" award in September. Their "eerily therapeutic and haunting album full of love, lust and longing" (Emily Solan, full review of 'Smother' here) won over several of our writers as well as critics worldwide.
Feel free to add your thoughts on the list below.