10: Sufjan Stevens - 'Carrie And Lowell'
When an artist lays bear their emotions and experiences so explicitly, the result can often be uncomfortable and overwhelming. 'Carrie And Lowell' avoids this fate, with Sufjan delivering a truly elegant record that is moving and memorable.
9: Protomartyr - 'The Agent Intellect'
Having only released their debut album in 2012, 'The Agent Intellect' is post-punk artist Protomartyr's third album. It sees the group experimenting with more layered, bolder arrangements without losing the powerful directness of their earlier records. While a superb record in its own right, there is a nagging feeling this album is the bridge to something even more special.
8: Torres - 'Sprinter'
'Sprinter' is a quietly powerful record from an emotionally forthright songwriter. Torres successfully creates a single, unifying melancholic mood that provides for a special intimacy.
7: D’Angelo - 'Black Messiah'
1995’s 'Brown Sugar' is one of the all-time great debut records. Following it would be a challenge for any artist, and it took five years for D’Angelo to release its follow up. It took another 14 years for 'Black Messiah', and while the album sounds out of of place from current RnB music, it is all the better for it. A sprawling, brilliantly creative record, 'Black Messiah' is well worth the wait.
6: Floating Points - 'Elaenia'
I wasn’t sure what to expect when put this record on - often, I’ll just listen to an album based on a recommendation without knowing the genre. Together with Max Richter’s 'Sleep', 'Elaenia' was the most powerful record I heard last year yet both records did not have lyrics. It is stunning, cohesive record that create a truly immersive experience which is all the more impressive given this is Sam Shepherd’s debut.
5: Ezra Furman - 'Perpetual Motion People'
The album’s title 'Perpetual Motion People' sums up the spirit of the record very effectively as Ezra Furman moves between different genres and styles of music with abandon. In lesser hands, the album could have been a mess but his keen sense of melody holds the record together to create something truly joyful.
4: Real Lies - 'Real Life'
Yes, their influences are obvious - Happy Mondays, Pet Shop Boys, The Streets, and William Orbit - but you can’t help be engrossed by Real Lies’ anthemic songs. With its evocative late night sound of the city, 'Real Life' is a fantastic debut record that celebrates all the different features that make London such a special city.
3: Deerhunter - 'Fading Frontier'
Band leader Bradford Cox seems to delight in confounding expectations, delivering arguably his most accessible, poppy set of songs yet. But this is Deerhunter after all, and given his personal setbacks, Cox still wears his heart of in his sleeve creating a more powerful record as a result.
2: Stornoway - 'Bonxie'
Once tipped in the BBC’s Sound Of 2010, whose voters included FG editor Saam, Stornoway have become one of Britain’s most consistent groups. Their third album 'Bonxie' shows the band’s melodic prowess alongside their most ambitious set of songs yet, and it is a triumph. The theme of the album is reconnecting with nature, and Stornoway succeeds, providing a rousing respite in an increasingly busy world.
1: Father John Misty - 'I Love You, Honeybear'
I discovered Father John Misty after reading a 'best of’ list similar to this one, and became a fan instantaneously. So my expectations were pretty big for 'I Love You, Honeybear'. Crammed full of memorable hooks, J. Tillman takes pride in showcasing the fallibility and paradoxes of human emotions in all their glory. At times both hilarious and moving, this is a fascinating record from a songwriter with storytelling skills that are peerless.
Read more of our Year In Review features here.