As always, announces of the death of music are not just “greatly exaggerated”; they are plain bullshit.
10. Twin Shadow — Forget
Disturbingly obsessive plays at our office confirm the catchiness of George Lewis Jr’s pretentious and annoyingly talented Brooklyn faux retro rock band, who marry almost-out-of-tune 80’s synths and 00’s synthetic drums, over grand guitar solos and power chords.
9. LCD Soundsystem — This Is Happening
James Murphy & co exhume and recycle more 70-90’s pop classics in this final, perfectly executed exercise in dance-punk. Only they could rejuvenate David Bowie’s Heroes so brilliantly.
8. Sufjan Stevens — The Age of Adz
Sufjan may have given up on his fifty states project and expressed his fading interest in songwriting, but evidence suggests he went on uploading his genius brain into a vintage computer instead, where he seems to have composed most of this fascinating half-orchestral, half-electronic album.
7. Arcade Fire — The Suburb
Grand rock popes return with another strong statement/album, exploring with their usual depth and breadth a new facet of our civilisation, the result an exhausting but powerful journey in collective rock.
6. Sophie Hunger — 1983
Young (and possibly sole) Swiss singer-songwriter prodigy Sophie Hunger keeps aiming – and reaching – higher in the coherent musical world she crafted across genres (folk, pop, blues, rock) and across languages (English, French, German and – God forbid – Swiss German), a master jewel both instrumentally and vocally, strong and sensitive at the same time.
5. Lindstrøm & Christabelle — Real Life Is No Cool
Lindstrøm swirly melodies find the perfect match in Christabelle sexy vocals, a Swedish treat in modern disco. Michael Jackson meets italo disco, in Moroder’s living room.
4. Janelle Monáe — The ArchAndroid
If futuristic funk had a queen, if James Brown and Michael Jackson had a daughter together, in the craddle of Motown legacy, or if someone could jump from R&B to pastoral folk, up through hip-hop and pop, then it would be Janelle Monáe, with this heclectic, demanding and rewarding album.
3. Yeasayer — Odd Blood
While their London Hot Chip half-brother fuel their compositions with dry electronic experimentats, Brooklyn’s Yeasayer harvest a gorgeous crop of hits where vocals and multiculturalism flow and blend in an effortless success in contemporary hipster pop.
2. Caribou — Swim
Math-musician Dan Snaith reinvents electronic music in the form of underwater rave party music, duly deconstructing dance music bit by bit, beat by beat, and remounting it with his own sounds into something new and unique, yet deeply familiar.
1. Deerhunter — Halcyon Digest
Ever since its inception, rock has been brewing, evolving, mashing influences and reinventing itself. This is the best of rock today, both an hymn to the past (borrowing from The Velvet Underground up to Animal Collective) and to the present, weird and hypnotising as it is.
And also, just below the cut and in no particular order:
- Beach House — Teen Dream (taking the nostalgia into a wider room)
- Blonde Redhead — Penny Sparkle (one more step in their journey to ethereal sound purity)
- Gil Scott-Heron — I’m New Here (the poet-musician is projected into the XXIst century by XL’s Richard Russell)
- Glasser — Ring (like a weirder and futuristic Bat For Lashes)
- Goldfrapp — Head First (sexier, more pop, more synths)
- Jónsi — Go (Icelandic journey into hyperreal nature)
- Junip — Fields (José Gonzáles, in a band, with humming synths)
- Kanye West — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (condensed quality American hip-hop)
- Menomena — Mines (upping the production on their ever experimental rock)
- School of Seven Bells — Disconnect from Desire (bringing more shoegaze into their cathedral of sounds)
- Stereolab — Not Music (yet-more-great-Sterelab-tunes)
- Sufjan Stevens — All Delighted People (side dish of beautifully crafted songs, pre-Adz mutation)
- The Black Keys — Brothers (still jamming rock in the basement, to a warmer sound)
Two electronic soundtracks to wrap things up, both celebrating the rapture of computer geeks in their own way:
- Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross — The Social Network
- Daft Punk — Tron Legacy