Midweek and we've reached numbers 20 to 11 in our Top 40 Albums of 2012 list. Being showered with love today are Efterklang, The Maccabees, The Weeknd, The xx, Neneh Cherry, Kindness, Kendrick Lamar, Tame Impala, Gang Colours and Jack White.
20. EFTERKLANG ‘Piramida’ (4AD)
Becoming obsessed with an abandoned Soviet mining town in the Arctic circle, Rasmus, Mads and Casper set off with samplers to record, write and score an LP only made from found sounds. They delved deep into abandoned machinery, workers’ half-full beer bottles, and even the world’s most northerly grand piano from a communist music hall covered in undisturbed dust. Majestic, melodic, and ready to steal your soul.
BEST BIT: The unadulterated celestial euphoria as the keys on ‘Dreams Today’ finally break in tinkling waves over your frontal cortex.
19. THE MACCABEES ‘Given To The Wild’ (POLYDOR)
It was apparent upon release way back in January that ‘Given To The Wild’ was going to be an album of the year. Eleven months down the line and its epic beauty and stunningly deft textures have diminished none – in fact, they reveal more with every new listen.
BEST BIT: Losing yourself in the depths of ‘Glimmer’.
18. THE WEEKND ‘Trilogy’ (ISLAND)
Like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, a single listen The Weekend’s ‘Trilogy’ has the power to overwhelm and dull all senses to transport you to an alternate universe: a lo-fi universe filled with pain, darkness and a soul so pure it breaks a little more with every track.
BEST BIT: Honest R&B with lyrics like every drunk text you sent and wished you hadn’t.
HAYLEY LOUISA BROWN
17. THE XX ‘Coexist’(XL)
Essentially more of the same after debut ‘xx’, but when that is a distinctive and brooding sweep of nocturnal melancholy it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Steel drums blend with pinpoint accurate programming as tunes bleed hazily out of the speakers, while Romy’s voice floats in from afar. A masterful and confident record.
BEST BIT: The entirety of ‘Angels’: a beautifully sombre example of ‘less is more’.
16. NENEH CHERRY AND THE THING ‘The Cherry Thing’ (SMALLTOWN SUPERSOUND)
When Neneh Cherry teamed up with Swedish acid-jazz trio The Thing the results were extraordinary. Amid a furious psychedelic freeform haze, Cherry illuminated cover versions of tracks by an eclectic range of artists such as MC Doom, Suicide, The Stooges, Martina Topley Bird and her late stepfather, Don.
BEST BIT: The magical ‘Cash Back’ – powered by mad jazz and Cherry’s peerless vocal.
15. KINDNESS ‘World, You Need A Change Of Mind’ (FEMALE ENERGY/POLYDOR)
Kindness departed Philadelphia Institute in 2007 with a telling comment from his tutor: “His riotous ‘scronk’ music grew much endeared by the other institute residents”. It ain’t scronk, but the viral vivacity of this Peterborough pop conjurer is spot on. His album offers an endearing journey of evocative pop-funk influenced by an undead disco hall, somewhere between his universe and ours.
BEST BIT: The slow and luring brass build up of ‘That’s Alright’ that suddenly bursts into a Ferris Bueller-era party anthem.
14. KENDRICK LAMAR ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ (AFTERMATH / INTERSCOPE)
This isn’t just THE BEST West Coast album since The Game dropped ‘The Documentary’ back in ’05; K-Dot’s album has reserved its place among that elite list of hip-hop essential albums for its era-defining sound and lyrics about a ‘good kid’ living in a ‘m.A.A.d city’. Tell Shyne Po ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’.
BEST BIT: Dr. Dre passing down the LA baton to Kendrick on Just Blaze’s ‘Compton’.
13. TAME IMPALA ‘Lonerism’(MODULAR)
As far as time travelling goes, Tame Impala have built the hallucinogenic equivalent of the Tardis to swing back to psych-rock’s ’70s heyday. It’s all kitted up with guitar distortion tweaks and filter-bathed vox knobs on the dashboard, controlled ever so smoothly by Kev Parker and co. It’s like ‘Pimp My Ride’ for the melodic entrepreneur, and thank God there’s no Xzibit.
BEST BIT: Imagining the world air-guitaring synchronously to ‘Elephant’ in all its hair-flailing entirety.
12. GANG COLOURS ‘The Keychain Collection’ (BROWNSWOOD)
If James Blake in 2011 demanded huge swathes of space and silence to be maintained at the core of dance music, then Will Ozanne has tinted these voids with his fragile piano and melancholia lyrical musings. Taking the mundane facets of daily life and teeming them with intrigue he’s injected yet more fascinating detail to a musical journey as deep as it was profound.
BEST BIT: The heart warming and mundane demands of ‘Fancy Restaurant’, with all its bitter sweet salvation of normality.
11. JACK WHITE ‘Blunderbuss’ (XL Records)
Recorded in the wake of his (reportedly amicable) divorce and the official finalisation of The White Stripes, ‘Blunderbuss’ is a seething album that stings as much as it stimulates. Biting blues and ruthless tirades combined to confirm White as a force to be reckoned with.
BEST BIT: The banjo hoedown in ‘Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy’.