- 1. Tame Impala - Lonerism *
We certainly weren't alone in thinking Tame Impala's sophomore album was the duck's proverbial, with NME, Filter Magazine and Triple J all declaring it the album of the year. Kev Parker and co. crafted something special here and, with songs such as Apocalypse Dreams, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Elephant, it plays strong from start to finish. Lonerism expands considerably on the ideas of their debut LP, Innerspeaker, and the recently sold-out a global tour begs the question: Are they the most significant WA band since the Triffids?
- We said *: "If this is the sound of loneliness and exile, Kevin Parker needs to stay in more." (Matthew Hogan)
- 2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange *
At times channelling Stevie Wonder and Prince, Frank Ocean made R'n'B cool in a way most people didn't think possible. Ocean is the master of understated elegance but make no mistake, this LP is filled with gritty realism. Songs such as Thinkin Bout You and Pyramids have a mournful beauty, while Super Rich Kids is the kinda fun we'd expect from an Odd Future alum.
- We said *: "This guy's going places." (Ben O'Shea)
- 3. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city *
At 25 Kendrick Lamar has the world of hip-hop at his feet. Pitchfork and the BBC think his major-label debut was the best LP of 2012 and you could mount a compelling case they've got a point. He raps about his family and growing up in Compton and singles m.A.A.d. city and Swimming Pools (Drank) have been breakthrough successes.
- We said *: "Lamar has concocted an outing with broad influences but a sound of its own." (Ted Schlechte)
- 4. Jack White - Blunderbuss *
Jack White has worked on so many projects since the White Stripes that it's almost shocking this LP represents his solo debut. But it was well worth the wait. Songs such as Sixteen Saltines and Love Interruption see White in vintage form but Blunderbuss has a complexity that becomes apparent after repeated listens. This is one helluva break-up album.
- We said *: "Disarmingly poignant." (Simon Collins)
- 5. Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It *
Seattle's Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, puts his heart and soul on the line in this earnest examination of society's attitude toward same-sex love. Songs such as Hood feel epic but dissipate in an instant, leaving Hadreas' lyricism resonating.
- We said *: "It's ethereal, spine-tingling and hauntingly sad." (Harvey Rae)
- 6. Grizzly Bear - Shields *
The jury was out on how this Brooklyn band would make an adequate follow-up to the most excellent Vectamist LP of 2009 but Shields has proved a bona fide grower since its release in September. It shows Grizzly Bear at their most melodic and boasts a deceptive simplicity that you know didn't happen by accident.
- We said *: "Shields . . . advances the agenda considerably." (Harvey Rae)
- 7. The Shins - Port of Morrow *
This was the Shins' first outing since 2007's Wincing the Night Away and anticipation was high. First single Simple Song raised hopes even higher and they were largely met when the LP dropped in March. Much was made of line-up changes at the time but James Mercer's songwriting rose to the top.
- We said *: "Mercer's lyrics resonate with genuine empathy and compassion." (Simon Collins)
- 8. Japandroids - Celebration Rock *
With all this talk of resurgent R'n'B and fey indie-folk it is nice to know there are dudes still making balls-out rawk'n' roll. We still can't believe Celebration Rock is the work of only two blokes from Vancouver.
- We said *: "Japandroids sound like the entire E Street Band playing scuzzy Hold Steady songs." (Simon Collins)
- 9. Father John Misty - Fear Fun *
Ex-Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman perfectly captures the vibe of LA's Sunset Boulevard circa 1968 on Writing a Novel and the rest of Fear Fun, with the exception of single Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, is similarly nostalgic.
- We said *: "Tillman has considerably recalibrated his ambition in his first outing as Father John Misty." (Ben O'Shea)
- 10. POND - Beard, Wives, Denim *
Beard, Wives, Denim is the cracking fourth album from the group often misdiagnosed as a Tame Impala side project (band member cross-over does not a side project make, FYI). From opener Fantastic Explosion of Time you know you're in for something special.
- We said *: "This deserves to be counted among the year's best, full stop." (Harvey Rae)
- Notable mentions: *11. Beach House - Bloom. 12. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel 13. Twin Shadow - Confess. 14. Django Django - Django Django. 15. Chairlift - Something. 16. Sarah Blasko - I Awake. 17. DZ Deathrays - Bloodstream. 18. Jessie Ware - Devotion. 19. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! 20. Plan B - Ill Manors.