10. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
Nobody knew they needed this record this year. Most people assumed Sufjan might come back with folksy banjo tunes to please the post-O.C. crowd. But his sometimes jarring song structures and instrumentation set the stage for his revealing honesty which shines through at every moment.
9. Beach Fossils – S/T
This was my go-to summer album this year, and I love spinning it to remind me that summer will be back again. Everything about this album shimmers.
8. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Maybe my most anticipated album this year? After hearing “Power” I knew Kanye was back in full-force, and his album is one of his best. The samples are thoughtfully chosen and his lyrics are so open-hearted and honest that it’s hard not to love him, even with all of his faults.
7. Twin Shadow – Forget
I was a late-comer to this record, but was struck by George Lewis Jr.’s beautiful voice and the perfect 80s-harking guitars and keyboards.
6. Delorean – Subiza
One of the most eagerly-awaited albums of the year, Delorean came through with track after track filled to bursting. Each song is so joyous and moving, and the drumbeats and samples and guitars are so perfectly sewn together to make this a fun record to put on when you’re home alone and need to dance.
5. Small Black – New Chain
I was genuinely surprised by this album at first spin. Album opener “Camouflage” is a gorgeous tune, and they keep it going on the whole album. The hazy ambiance is poppy enough to put a spring in your step without making you think too hard about how you’re moving. It’s easy to just sway and bob your head a lot while listening to this one.
4. Hot Chip – One Life Stand
This album was a lot more cohesive, stylistically speaking, compared to Hot Chip’s previous efforts. It’s an easier listen, and gels together as a whole instead of some songs sticking out in good or bad ways. Again, some of their most heartfelt songs to date, and their sound just keeps getting tighter and better year after year.
3. Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me
I don’t know how many times I’ve sat through this two-hour album listening enraptured as Joanna strings these tunes together, sometimes plucking, at other times cutting entirely. Have One on Me has some of her most beautiful songs yet, all wondrously orchestrated and arranged.
2. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
With all the hubbub about this being LCD’s final full-length album, it seems like people actually ignored the album itself. They were too busy worrying about the future of James Murphy’s pet project that they didn’t cherish what we have right now. From opener to finish, This is Happening is a joyful, funny, intelligent dance record better than any other put out this year.
1. Beach House – Teen Dream
What more can be said about this album? Every song is as near perfect as anything Beach House will ever do. Although I wore the album out early on in the year, going back and listening to it I love it just as much as when it first came out.
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