|30. Sync24 - Comfortable Void|
A heavily 303 influenced album by one of the geniuses of Swedish Ambient legends Carbon Based Lifeforms. Chilled out grooves, 303 squelches and soothing melodies. Absolutely amazing.
|29. Bart Constant - Tell Yourself Whatever You Have To|
"I know where kind of going on a limb, stop trying to avoid embarrassment" advises Rutger Hoedemaekers (otherwise known by his latest project's name, Bart Constant) by the second song on Tell Yourself Whatever You Have To. And on a limb it goes, void of embarrassment, as the album is filled to the brim with catchy melodies and rich, lush compositions that weave synthesizers, samples, and instruments seamlessly such as in "Gravity," which despite its name, ascends to great heights with a powerful optimistic horn section and marching rhythm, while songs like "Do Better (Animals Make Me Angry)" are more reflective but still expansive. On "Point," manic vocalizations are found at every turn, making for one of the most enthralling tracks on the album. "It's fun to play a character like me," he chimes on "Seven-Minute Revolution"--turns out, it's just as fun to listen as well.
|28. Mumford & Sons - Babel|
Mumford & Sons sophomore album gives the fans exactly what they want without changing around too much of their award winning concept. Arena folk and bluegrass with songs that will be stuck in your heads for months to come.
|27. MewithoutYou - Ten Stories|
Usually each mewithoutYou album presents a vastly different change in sound. The debut LP A to B] Life featured them at their rawest, post-hardcore sound, as Catch for Us the Foxes signified a more polished, refined version of that. Brother, Sister featured more of a folk infusion into the sound while It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream It's Alright took the influence further than some fans can still be comfortable with. But this year's Ten Stories serves more as a look back on their progression as a band. Songs like opener "February 1878" and "Fox's Dream of the Log Flume" are strongly reminiscent of their second and third albums, while the meditative "Aubergine" is all It's All Crazy! That doesn't mean the Weiss brothers and company don't have room to grow, however: "Cardiff Giant" may very well be their most cheerful song ever written. The lyricism too has been taken in a new, yet familiar, territory. Often Aaron Weiss' songs were encrypted testimonies of his struggles between himself, his loved ones, and his religion (without the last one being overbearing or preachy), but Ten Stories is their first concept album, telling the story of a train wreck releasing zoo animals in the North American wilderness, framing allegories for Weiss interpersonal parables. The album's finale "All Circles" muses, "All circles presuppose their end where they begin." mewithoutYou may be covering some old ground with Ten Stories, but it's a welcome return and still opens the exciting possibilities of where they'll go next.
|26. The Flashbulb - Opus at the End of Everything|
The first of two albums released by Benn Jordan this year. Filled to the brim with beautiful orchestral elements and interesting rhythmic passages that evoke a sense of melancholia and mystery that manages to peak your interest at every glitchy turn.
|25. The xx - Coexist|
While the formula remained fairly unchanged on the London trio's second album, Coexist marked the band establishing their sound as much more refined - a certain maturity pouring through the shadowy cloud of guitar strums and electronic beats throughout. But above all, the album's deep and at-times troubling subject matter and lyrical context suggested something far more personal, and it was given to us, in parts, through hushed vocals, and in others, through the music's objective means of less = more.
|24. Scott Walker - Bish Bosch|
Bish Bosch is Scott Walkers 14th studio album. The exquisite instrumentation could possibly be the most obscure Walker to date. We have slashing sounds of knives and swords, the sound of trumpets and ukulele’s and above all, Walker’s deep, powerful voice.
|23. Trifonic - Ninth Wave|
The critical (which means me, amongst others) follow up to the in 2008 released Emergence sees the IDM influenced music of Brian Trifon return with a vengeance. An album worthy of remembrance.
|22. Matthew Dear - Beams|
Away from the joyously melancholic trips between midnight clubs, glittery evening streets and disco-fueled energy in music, Beams was Matthew Dear's homage, as much as it was a celebration, of that lush spectrum of musical culture. Combined with Dear's grumbling murmured baritone, the music's dusk, bubbly, oil-on-water textures conjured up a state of social enjoyment as much as it did a very intricate and prolonged personal stance.
|21. Hot Chip - In Our Heads|
To top 2010's One Life Stand, Hot Chip would need to up their game, both musically and contextually. Not only did they achieve this goal, but they found a way to merge the former romanticism of previous with their established geeky divulging of electro beats and melodic arrangements. The result is as close to a complete, entertaining and frankly brilliant demonstration in how electronic sounds should be incorporated into more pop-orientated music.