Why am I writing a best-of list for a year that ended six months ago? Because I am very, very lazy.
10. Alt-J – This is All Yours
While it was fair to expect a little more of 2012’s winners, still one of my favourite bands around, This is All Yours still delivered some fantastic moments and continued a great tradition of experimentation. ‘Nara’, ‘Left Hand Free’, ‘Every Other Freckle’, ‘Hunger of the Pine’ and ‘The Gospel of John Hurt’ in particular stand out. But they needed sharper cutting down, opening with a four minute intro song, only to go into another intro was a big mistake, in fact, most of the other songs on this record could and should have lost a couple of minutes. Alt-J still retain their magic though, and with an improved live sound, are shaping themselves well for the future.
9. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
Too Bright is an earnest, honest, and uncompromising album, that sounds like nothing else around. Lead single ‘Queen’ is good enough on its own to merit its place on this list but it’s the continual innovation and pure songwriting talent that makes this album work so well.
8. Honeyblood – Honeyblood
A debut album that just sounds like it enjoys the making of music, Honeyblood draws from riot grrrl and modern indie equally, and never makes too much of what it a simple, great sound.
7. Superfood – Don’t Say That
Aside from being lovely, lovely people, Superfood are a band that pick up on the Britpop revival happening at the moment and take it somewhere great. The hits are thick and fast, and the choruses always strong. Another purely enjoyable album.
6. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
As the title of band and album give away this is a very depressing record. Which is great, because it’s an style the band do magnificently. It oozes darkness and cold, which feels very appropriately Scottish, and the combination of accent and Interpol-inspired guitars works wonders. The Twilight Sad perfected their sound onNWTBHANWTL (damn) to make a beatiful wintry album.
5. Warpaint – Warpaint
Warpaint shifted up into the a more electronic mood for their third album, and it paid dividends. Drummer Stella Mozgawa (one of the very best around) and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg take the lead with the new style. Few bands are better at creating ethereal moods, and songs like ‘Biggy’, ‘Drive’ and ‘Love is to Die’ are some of the band’s best songs to date.
4. Interpol – El Pintor
Arguably jostling for place with Sparklehorse and Pearl Jam as my favourite band ever it was inevitable that I would enjoy El Pintor. Interpol cut their losses and went back to doing what they do best with fast, heavy, post-punk pop songs. While some doubters see the loss of Carlos D as the end of the band, this record seemed to echo Antics in its straightfoward delivery of great song after great song.
3. Wild Beasts – Present Tense
One of the campest, cleverest, and artiest bands hovering around the British indie scene, Wild Beasts deserved far more recognition for this magical album. Delivering sharp lyrics over delicate but punchy art-pop they can be full of venom (“In your mother tongue / what’s the verb to suck“), love (“I’m a pilgrim, you’re the shrine to / all the lovers that loved before us”), and often lust (“The things she said she’d never do / a little fun for me, and none for you. / I’m the thing you fenced in / I’m ten men”). What they nailed with Present Tense was the sonic balance of drums, bass, synths and gentle guitars while the two contrasting voices play off each other better than ever.
2. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Very nearly taking the top spot, this widely acclaimed album has had enough said about it elsewhere to render any small words I have here pointless. Needless to say, it still gets played in the car on any kind of drive, and it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like it.
1. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
Winning out on this list potentially from its pure social relevance this was the ultimate record of the moment. Last year’s Run The Jewels made it to number 5 on last year’s list, and this album improved in every way on that record. El-P’s beats are better, but it’s Killer Mike whose rapping really reaches a new level. Every song on the record is an absolute banger – even the features are perfect. Zach de la Rocha hasn’t sounded this good since ‘Bombtrack’, Boots perfects the rap chorus on ‘Early’, while Gangsta Boo, well, manages to out do El and Mike in every way on ‘Love Again’. 2014 was the year the race crisis in America came to a fore, and Run the Jewels not only understood this, but were driven by it, their black and white unity serving as an unexpected beacon of race-conscious collaborative hope at a miserable time, and that’s not even mentioning Killer Mike’s consistently incredible public speaking and media appearances. All this, and their album is still completely free to download.