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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Top 20 Albums of 2012: #10-#01

#20-#11 was yesterday. Find out what you missed. Bordeauxxx haven't been included because you'll think it biased. It's covered here anyway.

10) Field Music - Plumb
Plumb will be the Field Music album that, in decades to come, will be pointed to as the best place to start when getting into such a legendary band. Containing everything that's made previous FM albums great and working as a whole grand piece, it's one of the only albums I've ever come across that's works so well as a whole that I'm utterly unable to point to any one song from it. Every good thing that's been written about Field Music is true and Plumb is them at their best.

09) This Many Boyfriends - This Many Boyfriends
The rough production meant that This Many Boyfriends début wasn't instantly set for a high placing in my end of year list. Still, a similar issue never stopped Los Campesinos! from triumphing on their first album. And like LC! the songs here are all fantastic. With many familiar to me from previous singles/EPs and a short running time (under half an hour!) This Many Boyfriends found itself easily on repeat. Time and again in 2012 I'd find myself singing these songs to myself – both the hits and the album tracks. And that's exactly what I expect from an album in my Top 10 of any given year.

08) Maxïmo Park - The National Health
Maxïmo Park were one of the few 'old hands' from the last decade's indie rock boom that have never seemed to loose it. That said, The National Health still felt like a return to form. It's because this record, which mixes their more avant garde influences ('When I Was Wild') with classic brit-guitar-pop ('The Undercurrents'), leaves Quicken The Heart seem a little lacking. On full throttle tracks like 'Banlieue' and lead single 'Hips And Lips' they sound ballsier than ever, and still retain their bookish charms. As good in 2012 as it was in '05.

07) Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense
Ah, the fickle music press. All over FotL around Travels With Myself And Another, but now they're onto album 3 the NME doesn't want to know. Foolish! The Plot Against Common Sense sees the band come out of a period of personnel change stronger than ever with an album that's just as vitriolic, aggressive and funny as they've been given credit. Even without the amazing song titles ('Robocop 4 – Fuck Off Robocop', 'Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots') The Plot Against Common Sense would still be the best punk album of 2012.

06) Taffy - Caramel Sunset
Perfectly formed shoegaze britpop from Tokyo, Taffy have delighted us ever since we first laid ears and eyes on them. Caramel Sunset fulfilled all of the promise heaped on them from the preceding singles and has ensured that I've spent the year with their fizzy pop zapping through my brain. From the shimmering pop of opener 'Between' to the chugging Elastica-esque riffs of closing number 'So Long' there's not a moment that can't be savoured. If you've not come across Taffy this year then treat yourself this Christmas.

05) The Darkness - Hot Cakes
Ah, a bit of anomaly this one. Sorry about that. Still, at least I've no need to try and justify it. You likely made your mind up on The Darkness nearly a decade ago and whatever I think is not going to change that. Still, in harking back to their debut The Darkness have crafted a mighty fun stomp of a rock record. It's silly and novel, but I honestly couldn't give a damn.

04) The Winter Olympics - Profit & Loss
The Winter Olympics would have had to go a long way to fail in my eyes this year. Compiling a string of brilliant singles and packing in great new tracks is the perfect way to go when getting an album together and this is the best example from 2012. The songs are memorable and packed with character (in such a way that riled the Guardian somewhat), but what keeps me coming back to Profit & Loss is the fact that it's clearly made lovingly by people who are huge fans of music. Like with Art Brut it's this level of connection that makes it impossible for me to say anything against The Winter Olympics. A real highlight of the year!

03) Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Somehow I managed to avoid Japandroids until this year. It really wasn't deliberate, but it was incredibly silly of me. Visceral two piece rock and roll has been in vogue of late, but it's yet to be done any better than this. Mixing blue collar desperation with a hard-partying attitude that Mr WK would be proud of this excellently named band have provided us with THE rock album of 2012. No argument. If in 2012 you've felt downtrodden or trapped, in need of escape or a beer or simply pissed off at the world then it's been articulated by Celebration Rock.

02) Allo Darlin' - Europe
So close to taking the Album of the Year award, Allo Darlin's superb second pop masterpiece has been trumped due to an album from 2011 getting a delayed release. Not that this detracts from the quality here at all. With Europe (and it's bonus disc of cover versions) we're all reminded of how no matter what gimmicks bands employ, or what technology they deploy to create their music very little can capture the heart like beautifully crafted honest pop.

01) MJ Hibbett & The Validators - Dinosaur Planet

OK, I've spoken up for both gimmicks and a lack of them in previous entries. By putting a indiepop-opera about Dinosaurs from space laying waste to Peterborough I'm surely siding with novelty right?

Well, yes and no. Because although this is the most unique album you're going to have heard in 2012 this alone wouldn't carry it. It's in fact the universal appeal of such oddities that makes Dinosaur Planet the best album of the year. It's an album that promotes good scientific practice, working together and doing yr little bit to make the world a better place. It delivers these ideas with a solid plot and songs that are as catchy as they are fun. Nothing is forced here and it's as far away from po-faced as possible. As such if there's no part of you that can appreciate Dinosaur Planet I'm really not sure that we can be friends.

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