Christmas looms, 2012 draws to an end, and the only man left standing is capitalism. What’s new, right? It’s that time of the year again where every blogger on the blogosphere feels a compulsive urge to unnecessarily reappraise the music of the past year. Yes, you got it, ’tis the season of list-making. And this is a list of my ten favourite albums from a surprisingly great year in music:
10. Jack White, ‘Blunderbuss’
This may be White’s most personal album yet, but his emotions remain mostly concealed by his re-energised virtuosity in raw garage, blues and folk rock. Some of the riffs here are quintessential Jack White – ‘Sixteen Saltines’ oozes intensity – and are bound to soothe the inevitable mass yearnings for a White Stripes reunion.
9. Graham Coxon, ‘A+E’
Angst-infused acid guitar-pop for anti-social teenagers made by an anti-social teenager trapped in a 43 year old man’s body. Please don’t ever grow old, Graham.
8. Toy, ‘Toy’
Shoegaze is not dead. Neither is cool British neo-psychedelic pop music according to Toy.
7. Frank Ocean, ‘Channel Orange’
OFWGKTA outcast Frank Ocean’s debut studio album presents a refined prowess as a storyteller above all else. ‘Pyramids’ is nothing short of a genre-defying masterpiece and you’ll be hard tasked to find a better, more ambitious song all year. Some say he’s the next Marvin Gaye; I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.
6. Howler, ‘America Give Up’
Who isn’t all for the second coming of ‘Is This It’? Howler’s surf-meets-indie (or rather Best Coast-meets-The Cribs) aesthetic is certainly not groundbreaking in the same way their ancestors’ (The Strokes) debut was, but it’s every bit a bundle of joy to listen to.
5. The Crookes, ‘Hold Fast’
A welcome expansion on their debut’s jingle-jangle dancing incentives and hopelessly lovelorn ballads, with themes of Americana cropping up alongside the much familiar love, lust and heartbreak. The end product is virtually the same, however: #newpop flair, intellectual pop perfection, call it what you will.
4. The Heartbreaks, ‘Funtimes’
I wrote before that ‘if you like pop the way it’s suppose to be – replete with tales of tragic romances and an irrepressible sense of vivacity – you will like The Heartbreaks,’ and I very much stick by these words. God bless the band.
3. Melody’s Echo Chamber, ‘Melody’s Echo Chamber’
French songstress and Aussie messiah unite in and out of the studio to produce the best debut of 2012: intimate, melancholy psychedelia pervaded by a sort of dark luminosity.
2. Tame Impala, ‘Lonerism’
If John Lennon made a whole album based off his psychedelia-birthing sound on ‘Revolver’, this would be it. Kevin Parker, meanwhile, modestly states this album is essentially Britney Spears fronting The Flaming Lips. I’ll let you choose your own analogy.
1. Pond, ‘Beard, Wives, Denim’
Pure, mesmerising sonic ecstasy, thus completing the nonpareil Kevin Parker trilogy of 2012 – he produces and plays drums on this one. Not to sound cheesy, but this truly is the cosmic ambience of psychedelia condensed into thirteen superlative, transcendental nuggets. A spellbinding, swirling and twirling musical voyage that expands and reveals a new layer of sheer ingenuity every time you listen to it. ‘You Broke My Cool’ is probably the best Summer song ever released to feature flutes. Or simply the best Summer song ever, for that matter. Take a bow, you bloody rippers.
Honourable mentions: TBJM, Grimes, The Cribs, King Gizzard, Mac Demarco
Over and out. What ya got, 2013? Providing the Mayans were, you know, actually wrong.
Update: They were.