Best albums of 2012: a top 25 list

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I spent this year buried amongst music, I heard 220 albums and could not find a pure 10/10 amongst them, although I still think it was a strong year. The problem is that there were a lot of quality releases and I rated a lot of them 7/10, and any big list would end up being a multiple way tie for 26th place or something. If you want to know more about albums that I have rated throughout 2012, you should explore the posts tagged Albums of the Month. Anyway, although I am fairly clear about my top 5, it has been a very tough process to limit this to a top 25, a lot of good ones have slipped off the page, but here is my final list. I think most of these won't come as a surprise to regular readers.

1. Chromatics 'Kill For Love'

The album that defined 2012 for me. It emerged in March as a delicately sequenced 91-minute file on soundcloud and has stayed with me throughout. It manages to sound cinematic and epic whilst retaining the thrill of well crafted synth-pop songs. The more I explored this, the more I heard. Each piece is like a small-scale movie in itself, evocative and vivid.

2. Sharon Van Etten 'Tramp'

my review (
I think that this was perhaps the first album I heard this year and it has also stayed with me all year. Some of the lyrics are extraordinary in the way they focus on the minutae of relationships.
"There is an old adage about albums "growing on you" or "warranting repeated listens". In my experience this is very true of Tramp. Brutally honest and self-analytical, it sounds best when you are on your own late at night. I'm reminded of that old discussion about “who sings better in the dark?” The answer, at the moment, is Sharon van Etten."

3. Swans 'The Seer'

my review (the 405)
"The Seer is a superlative album which ranks with the very best work released under Swans name. With its excessive length it effectively gives two fingers to the commercial music industry. It is simply too much to take in a few sittings, but it is so rich and varied that every new listen reveals more. Thirty years on and Swans are growing, developing and building on their rich legacy."

4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!'

"The overdose of exclamation marks in the title is at odds with the
low key nature of the release, when you consider that their first new
recording for a decade was announced by slipping it onto
the merch table at the first show of their current tour. Maybe they
felt that because the core of the music had been previously heard by
anyone who saw them on their reunion tour and earlier,as the two main
tracks were widely circulated by audience tapers under the titles
'Albanian' and 'Gamelan'.That shouldn't matter,as this is one of the
best things they have ever released, and I cannot stop listening to

5 Sun Kil Moon 'Amongst the Leaves'

my review (
"The collection is laced with regret, sadness and quite a bit of humour....
Even way back with Red House Painters, Kozelek has a skill for dropping in little scenes that made perfect sense to the song. Here, that would-be artist or poet is sleeping alone with her laptop beside her, and he admits using up all his minutes in pursuit of the woman in 'Greatest Night'. The little details are set against something which could be life-changing."

6. Lower Dens 'Nootropics' (my review)
7. Woodpecker Wooliams 'The Bird School of Being Human'
8. Dirty Projectors 'Swing Lo Magellan'
9. Meursault 'Something for the Weakened' my review
10. Lost in the Trees 'A Church That Fits Our Needs'
11. Mountain Goats 'Transcendental Youth'
12. Human Don't Be Angry 'Human Don't be Angry' my review
13. RM Hubbert 'Thirteen Lost and Found'
14. Gravenhurst 'The Ghost in Daylight'
15, Julia Holter 'Extasis'
16. Piano Magic 'Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet'
17. Woods 'Bend Beyond' my review
18. Japandroids 'Celebration Rock'
19. Andy Stott 'Luxury Problems'
20. Grizzly Bear 'Shields'
21. Angel Olsen 'Half Way Home'
22. Dead Mellotron 'Glitter'
23. Liars 'WIXIW'
24. Goat 'World Music'
25. James Yorkston 'I Was a Cat from a Book'

For the benefit of the extra-inquisitive people, here is a picture of all the albums I considered for the final chart.

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