So many good albums came out in 2012 but here are my top ten from last year, including strong debuts from the likes of TOY and Spector and excellent follow-ups from Richard Hawley and Tame Impala. Read on and watch the video playlist to find out who came out on top.
10. Marina & The Diamonds – 'Electra Heart'
I wasn’t a fan of 'The Family Jewels', so the adoration I have for this gem is pretty special. Here Marina doesn’t shy away from pure unadulterated pop but wholeheartedly embraces the nature of the beast like no other this year. The right mix of bubblegum pop and slower makes something instantly listenable and reveals Marina as a pop force to be reckoned with.
9. The Walkmen – 'Heaven'
It feels weird to sing the praises of a band that I know my mother loves (though between my parents, my entire musical background has been shaped), but that does seem a rather petty reason to leave out a fantastic album. From ridiculously catchy numbers like 'Heartbreaker' to the downright sublime 'The Witch', the music itself may sound simplistic but The Walkmen have a habit of giving the lyrics just the support they need to make something pretty magical.
8. The Cribs – 'In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull'
'In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull' was a turning point for The Cribs. It retained the ramshackle charm of their earlier output and shed the overly produced sound of their most recent efforts. The album also contained a subtle undertones of a more mature sound wanting to escape that suits their age - 2013 sees them hit the milestone of 10 years. 'In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull' that presented us with a brand new Cribs anthem in the form of 'Come On And Be A No One' and reminded us what a sorry state the British independent music scene would be without them.
7. Mystery Jets – 'Radlands'
Mystery Jets are a band that its too easy to forget how brilliant they are, and it just takes one listen to remind you of that excellence all over again. 2012 may have seen the departure of bassist Kai Fish, but its not all doom and gloom due the excellence of 'Radlands'. A progression from their previous efforts, it's an ethereally wonderful piece as a whole, heavily indebted to the album's birthplace Texas. Tell me that you don’t listen to 'Greatest Hits' and shed a little tear. Oh, just me then.
6. Toy – 'Toy'
A piece of psychedelic infused beauty from the long lost brothers of The Horrors. Easily one of the best British debut albums this year (and one of only 3 on this little list of mine). It’s an album that is wonderfully cohesive, and the perfect soundtrack to the miserable dark days we are currently facing. Tracks like 'Drifting Deeper' and 'Colours Running Out' are the standouts, but the whole thing is outstanding (and another reason to celebrate the demise of Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong - harsh but fair).
5. The Futureheads – 'Rant'
This was an album full of risk that has ultimately paid off in my eyes anyway. Transforming some of their best-loved tracks into acappella versions has taken the band into interesting territory. They sound like a band revitalised and the sheer power of the vocals has made this collection of traditional shanties, cover versions and previous material work together incredibly. A novel idea, and as an added bonus they’ve managed to make the Black Eyed Peas sound excellent with their 'Meet Me Half Way' cover.
4. Richard Hawley – 'Standing At The Sky’s Edge'
Another psychedelic infused beauty from the Godfather of Sheffield music a man who has shown that there’s still musical life left in him yet. Yet again Robbed of Mercury victory, Hawley really has stepped it up on 'Standing At The Sky’s Edge', leaving the strings behind and cracking out the guitar pedals. Just look at lead single 'Leave Your Body Behind You', one of the most interesting and exciting tracks of the year. People of Sheffield, God walks among you.
3. Tame Impala – 'Lonerism'
You can tell I’ve been pretty excited by a certain sound this year. 'Lonerism' flows like a dream, and is an album that is not just reliant on hooks to draw a listener in but also carefully crafted musicianship to create some of the most memorable sounds of 2012. It’s an album that lets the listener find their own way in it’s sense of continual motion, and one that’s not steeped in musical heritage rather something groundbreaking, innovative and unforgettable.
2. Spector – 'Enjoy It While It Lasts'
Edged to the number two slot only slightly, Spector have won the affections of the masses by writing excellent songs whilst also not taking themselves too seriously. Instant indie disco classics, with choice lyrics including “Heard he was your rock/Does that make me your hard place?” and “Friday night, I don’t want wake up alive”. Think the witty observational style of Jarvis Cocker, had he been raised on a musical diet of The Strokes and Roxy Music.
1. This Many Boyfriends – 'This Many Boyfriends'
This Many Boyfriends have produced the album of the year in my opinion and quite possibly the best debut album in the past 2 or 3 years. Indie pop delights that deserve to be sung daily, it is an album that sums up everything that life is about (and contains a song named after 'Tina Weymouth'). This album sits as a collection of delightfully happy songs with titles like 'That’s What Diaries Are Made For', 'Young Lovers Go Pop' and 'I Don’t Like You (‘Cos You Don’t Like The Pastels)'. Repeat after me “We all got bullied at school, some of us just took it better”.
Listen to the playlist in full at YouTube or watch in the embed above. Click to read the official FG writers' list of Top 25 Albums Of 2012.