Words: Alison Potter, Emily Solan, Howard Gorman, Rajan Lakhani, Raman K, Saam Das, and Simon Opie
2012. The year that guitar music died. The year that hip hop died. The year that dubstep died. No. None of these things happened. 2012 was as healthy a year for music as any. At FADED GLAMOUR, we picked some of our favourite albums of 2012 and put them together in a list of 25 below. Pop, R&B, hip hop and yes, even guitar music all seem to have thrived according to our top 25 albums of 2012.
#25 Internet Forever - 'Internet Forever'
Wisely abandoning their slightly abrasive lo-fi leanings of old, Internet Forever conspired to create one of the year's most interesting and unique records. A dazzling mish-mash of genres including jazz, shoegaze, twee and experimental pop.
#24 Deftones - 'Koi No Yokan'
Peerless heavy metal meets uneasy dreamscape. An outstanding album from a band that has experienced a mighty rebirth through misfortune. Powerful stuff.
#23 Richard Hawley - 'Standing At The Sky's Edge'
Another psychedelic infused beauty from the Godfather of Sheffield music. Hawley left the strings behind and cracked out the guitar pedals, and was rewarded with a Mercury Music Prize nomination.
#22 Feed The Rhino - 'The Burning Sons'
Thunderous Chatham band with a simply massive presence and a magnificent sound. This is more invigorating than a day on Camber Sands. Music for life.
#21 Clock Opera - 'Ways To Forget'
Guy Connelly et al's debut effort has been long awaited and when it eventually dropped in April, 'Ways To Forget' didn't disappoint. An album of flair and ambition, splendidly juxtaposed with an accessible pop outlook.
#20 Tame Impala - 'Lonerism'
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. 'Lonerism' 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.
#19 Jens Lekman - 'I Know What Love Isn't'
In some respects echoing Bon Iver's acclaimed debut album, Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman's first album in five years is his attempt at catharsis following heartbreak. A soulful and emotionally resonant record.
#18 The Maccabees - 'Given To The Wild'
The Maccabees third album 'Given To The Wild' firmly established them as one of the finest and most prominent indie bands in the land. Their most ambitious offering yet saw them deliver a selection of beautifully atmospheric tracks full of emotion and feeling.
#17 Spector - 'Enjoy It While It Lasts'
An album full of instant indie disco classics, with choice lyrics including “Heard he was your rock/Does that make me your hard place?” Think the witty observational style of Jarvis Cocker had he been raised on a musical diet of The Strokes and Roxy Music.
#16 Jessie Ware - 'Devotion'
A debut album that certainly made an impression in 2012. Peaking at #5 in the UK album charts, garnering a Mercury Music Prize nomination, and still managing to keep the interest of even the buzziest of blogs, Jessie Ware show that she is here to stay. And we're glad.
#15 Waves Of Fury - 'Thirst'
From out of nowhere this record crept up and knocked us out. It’s utterly unique and laced with enough evil hooks to scare the devil. Northern Soul meets The Clash in a mighty mashup.
#14 Miguel - 'Kaleidoscope Dream'
What makes 'Kaleidoscope Dream' stand out from similar RnB releases is the towering ambition of the record. Comparisons to Marvin Gaye, Prince and Stevie Wonder are apt, with Miguel sharing their eccentricities, creativity and knack for a great melody.
#13 Ellie Goulding - 'Halcyon'
After the relative disappointment of her debut album, 'Lights', Ellie Goulding bounced back with a sparkling follow-up. At its best when embracing a synth-pop direction, 'Halcyon' nonetheless successfully mixes its genres, even when it flirts with dubstep.
#12 Flying Lotus - 'Until The Quiet Comes'
A unique blend of electronica and jazz, the complex compositions integrate lush soundscapes with sultry synths and stuttering drumbeats. With such a high previous standard of work, it makes sense that FlyLo would only enlist the best vocalists and collaborations with the likes of Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu help to establish 'Until The Quiet Comes' as a mesmerizing record which is impossible to become bored with.
#11 The Walkmen - 'Heaven'
From ridiculously catchy numbers like 'Heartbreaker' to the downright sublime 'The Witch', the music itself may be considered to be simplistic but The Walkmen have a habit of giving the lyrics just the support they need to make something pretty magical.
#10 Pond - 'Beard, Wives, Denim'
2012 saw alternative music’s centre of gravity move Down Under. While their brother band Tame Impala’s have been getting more attention with 'Lonerism', Pond offered something different. It is a heady mix of psychedelia, glam rock, funk and Stooges-style punk, chock full of anthems. Despite so many musical genres, the songs mix seamlessly with one another, a hallmark of all the great records.
#9 Restlesslist - 'Coral Island Girl'
This tale of a stowaway, shipwrecked mariner ending up on a mythic coral island and encountering a misleadingly beautiful siren and a hat-wearing dog before the whole place is obliterated in a volcanic eruption is quite simply in a class of its own. Utterly British and impeccably eccentric. Hooray! It’s all one song so you have to play it from beginning to end. Trust us.
#8 Purity Ring - 'Shrines'
Breaking the shackles of just being a buzz band, Purity Ring signed to heralded indie label 4AD and released a debut album that was similarly heralded. 'Shrines' showcased their warped electro-pop in a particularly effective fashion.
#7 Matt And Kim - 'Lightning'
Lightning by name, lightning by nature. Matt And Kim's latest synth-pop album thrilled and continues the hyperactive duo's slow rise to stardom. Let's hope their fifth studio album (whenever that should appear) gives them all the success they deserve.
#6 TEED - 'Trouble'
Beautifully reimagined dance music inspired by every dominant era of the genre: flashes of 80s Chicago house and synthpop, 90s Ibiza grooves and Ministry anthems, 00s Garage basslines and Ed Banger electro. Despite being gleaned with some Gaga-esque pretentious art-dance imagery, DJ Orlando Higginbottom's album is one of 2012's finest musical achievements.
#5 This Many Boyfriends - 'This Many Boyfriends'
'This Many Boyfriends' is an album that sums up everything that life is about. And it even contains a song named after Tina Weymouth. Indie pop delights that deserve to be sung daily. Repeat after me “We all got bullied at school, some of us just took it better”.
#4 Beach House - 'Bloom'
'Bloom' is a lovely record, revealing more riches with each listen. There is a great deal of warmth to this record, the aural equivalent of a snug warm blanket on a cold night, which makes it so welcoming to the listener. Some may grate at the lack of variety of the album but this gives it a unified sound and vision that is all the more spellbinding.
#3 Kendrick Lamar - 'good kid, m.A.A.d city'
Kendrick Lamar had steadily been gaining a following through the release of his mixtapes, but with the release of his debut album, it showed the world what an important player he is in the hip hop scene. This is a truly incredible record and one that will see his fanbase continue to grow well in 2013.
#2 Frank Ocean - 'Channel Orange'
Anyone who suggests this album has received acclaim for anything other than musical reasons is hugely mistaken. Frank Ocean has saved RnB and soul with new lyrical and vocal perspectives on sensuality, drugs and unrequited love. 'Channel Orange' thankfully closes the door on a prolonged period of meaningless whining and monotony in RnB. His voice is the natural successor to pioneers like D'Angelo, Brian McKnight and John Legend.
#1 Alt-J - 'An Awesome Wave'
Our album of the year goes to Alt-J with their fantastic debut 'An Awesome Wave'. In some ways an obvious choice but the Mercury Music Prize winning album continues to amaze us even now.