And so, finally, to my 10 favourite albums of the year. Whilst I’ve commented on the depth of good albums this year, I was struggling to decide on just which LP was my out and out favourite. In the end though I’m very comfortable with my final choice. But we’ll get there presently …
10 Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain
A new name to me this year although I’m sure not to a lot of other folk. But I/E/E’s mix of sampled public information films and backing stood out from the crowd as something a bit different. It could have finished anywhere from 20 to 10 but last week’s listen pushed it to the top end of that scale.
9 Swearin’ – Surfing Strange
Another new name to me ‘Surfing Strange’ is the best Breeders LP that the Breeders never made. There are some other 90s alt.rock influences kicking around but the combination of great songs and a bright production earn it a deserved top 10 spot.
8 Desert Hearts – Enturbulation = No Challenge
E=NC was a real grower – another, bright accessible production but the songs are a little less obvious but all the better for that. As ever with this year’s Top 20, E=NC is a very strong collection of songs but it’s also Desert Hearts best set to date.
7 The Spook School – Dress Up
My initial notion that I might find the Spook School a little twee was blown away by seeing them live in 2012. But I was still surprised just how strong ‘Dress Up’ turned out to be. Nothing less than superb, melodic guitar pop.
6 The Paranoid Style – The Power of Our Proven System
I did debate whether or not to include this as ‘Power’ is a compilation of their 2 EPs to date but a) it’s just so bloody good, and b) you CAN buy it as a physical product. Probably would have gained a couple of places had it been sequenced as an LP though.
5 Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Having found their second LP disappointing, I was pleased that ‘Slow Focus’ is very much a return to form. Rhythmic, harsh and abrasive ‘Slow Focus’ is unquestionably one of the vital records of the year.
4 Wire – Change Becomes Us
Only the fact that CBU dips slightly in the middle stops it from finishing higher and from quite matching predecessor ‘Red Barked Tree’. But nevertheless it continues Wire’s 21st century renaissance in some style – made all the more intriguing that it was largely drawn from songs written (but not recorded) more than 3 decades ago.
3 Low – The Invisible Way
I was late to the Low party but ‘The Invisible Way’ is a record of supreme elegance and simplicity best demonstrated by the likes of ‘So Blue’ and ‘Just Make It Stop’. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with this lot.
2 Throwing Muses – Purgatory/Paradise
The first Throwing Muses LP in ten years was a glorious declaration of independence – entirely listener funded and an astonishing 32 tracks long. They could have hardly declared their separation from the regular music business in a more definitive manner. And it was bloody good too. A class of their own.
1 Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse
In terms of innovation and quality, ‘Imaginary Walls Collapse’ ended up being clearly MPT’s album of the year – even if it took me a while to work that out. Building on Adam’s live performances, IWC delivered in terms of quality of songs but also demonstrated a range that few records matched. A worthy winner.