2012 is upon us, which means only one thing: an evaluation of the year gone by. What I consider front to back special, here lies my favourite ten albums of 2011.
10. elbow, ‘build a rocket boys!’
Track: with love
9. Kasabian, ‘Velociraptor!’
Track: Goodbye Kiss
8. Lykke Li, ‘Wounded Rhymes’
Track: Unrequited Love
7. Girls, ‘Father Son, Holy Ghost’
Track: Honey Bunny
6. The Vaccines, ‘What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?’
Track: Post Break-Up Sex
5. Miles Kane, ‘Colour of the Trap’
Miles’ solo bow exhibits a flare of his unconditional love for ’60s garage, soul and dirty rock ‘n’ roll. Alex Turner, his inseparable primate counterpart, is on hand to lend songwriting duties, but it’s the riffs the lyrics roar from that shines the spotlight solely on Miles, who walks away standing more than comfortably on his own two feet.
4. The Crookes, ‘Chasing After Ghosts’
An array of cerebral pop punctuated by themes of love, lust and heartbreak, this nascent, sprightly four piece have fused ’50s rock ‘n’ roll with ’80s romanticism with immaculate precision, producing arguably the warmest debut of the year. I’ve certainly got high hopes for a new wave of melodramatic British pop music resting on these Topman shoulders.
Track: Bloodshot Days
3. The Joy Formidable, ‘The Big Roar’
The title sufficiently epitomises the content of this album. It’s big. It’s roaring. And it’s got layers of heartfelt emotion at its core. Dream pop never tasted so good.
2. The Horrors, ‘Skying’
2011 saw The Horrors change tack again from their critically acclaimed sophomore effort, Primary Colours, expanding on their post-punk influences and placing their goth-punk debut well and truly over the horizon. Skying was the result, a beautifully crafted fusion of neo-psychedelia and soaring synths, with tracks like lead single, ‘Still Life’, and the resuscitative ‘Endless Blue’ cementing The Horrors’ status as a national treasure.
Track: Endless Blue
1. Arctic Monkeys, ‘Suck It and See’
The Monkeys’ ever-evolving sound took another turn on their fourth effort, the follow up from the polarized fan reaction to 2009’s Humbug. I often use Humbug to separate the good from the great (or as Matt Helders says: “the men from the boys”) and the great will most definitely be satisfied with what’s on offer on Suck it and See. Here, Alex Turner showcases his ability to still write a stunning pop song that will please the ‘505’ and ‘Mardy Bum’ faithful (‘Love is a Laserquest’ & ‘Piledriver Waltz’), while his bandmates dive into the deep end of heavier, QOTSA influenced rock (‘Don’t Sit Down’ & ‘Library Pictures’), creating a diverse, fluid collection of timeless pop. My favourite album from my favourite current band; a solid 10/10. It was inevitable, really.
Track: Piledriver Waltz
Honourable mentions: Yuck, Gross Magic (EP), PJ Harvey, Alex Turner (EP), The Kills & Bombay Bicycle Club
And there we have it. Over to you, 2012.