No Ripcord's Top 50 Albums of 2011
This is mostly clever, intelligently designed rap, intended to give a greater conceptual sense than mere boasts and anecdotes, which is something too often unseen these days.
Dedication seems like a bit of a missed opportunity; as collection of ideas it may be incredible, but as an album it's just insubstantial.
Catchy choruses remain, arpeggios hardly make an appearance in favor of volatile hooks, and quiet-loud dynamics are still the norm.
This features Smith Westerns focusing in on the things that really succeeded the first time around, then fixes up that with some more of their songwriting style.
For a brief thirty minutes, Riley and Moore opt to share a reliable set of savory pop nostalgia.
It’s just flat out dull, and sounds worn out in 2011.
The Arctic Monkeys of 2011 have produced, probably by a significant margin, the best British Rock 'n' Roll album you will hear this year.
It showcases a more than self-sufficient songwriter who prefers to discover the fruits of collaboration.
It’s largely cerebral music to appreciate rather than adore; music for the head rather than for the heart or feet. Sadly, The King of Limbs – while a brave side-step – is a case of style over substance.
This album is hard work, but, inch by wretched inch, it becomes worthwhile.
With Skying, The Horrors continue to explore familiar territory whilst refining their idiosyncratic slant like proficient tastemakers.
In moving firmly away from the happier pop tone of her debut Lykke Li has nonetheless made a better record.
This is perhaps his most beautiful work to date; its vulgarity is restrained but a sense of humour remains, and Wells and Moffat reach new emotional heights.
It is not the finest album that Elbow have made but, I suspect, it is one that ‘everyone and everyone’s mum’ will be glad they did.
The Whole Love is precisely an answer to those who relegate the kind of music Wilco makes as old-timey.
It’s fresh and idiosyncratic, compellingly cryptic, but it’s difficult to pinpoint the effect it has on the listener.
He commands the mood better than artists who have been in the game for years and yet this his first release.
The record is awash with the feeling of isolation and teaming with crushing amplified annihilation.
Smother is an exercise in moderation, trying to find the precise balance between audacious beauty and emotional intelligence.
If every song here had been of the same standard as the opening suite of three, and the final two, 50 Words For Snow would have been an all-time classic
As much as an album can be, it's pretty damn close to being flawless; not only matching the quality of The Reminder but actually bettering it.
Bad As Me is contained and precise with each of its 13 songs hitting its target full on.
Burst Apart is a passable follow-up to an incredible record, but that’s all it is. Passable.
Vile may get all the end-of-year glory, but his comrade’s first full-length effort is just as laudable and commendable.
This is a solid album with some great ideas, and when it’s given the attention it really deserves, those qualities come out in droves.
It’s a sweeping, expansive album, that covers a lot of ground and leaves the listener satisfied.
The air of careful conception surrounding Days is one of its most unmistakable and undeniable characteristics.
An album that plays like a voyage or single composition, taking twists and turns within gloriously maze-like arrangements.
On A Mission deftly mines non-commercial genres and repackages them for crossover success.
John Agnello has helped Vile to refine his lo-fi aesthetic and at times Smoke Ring For My Halo sounds nothing short of stunning.
Bon Iver embarks on a sustainable new direction for the band and is evidence of a successful transition from one-off wonder to durable outfit.
The role of the music in conveying Annie Clark’s message has been upped, the lyrics are more personal, the production is richer, and Clark’s velvety voice is now threatening as often as it is beautiful; Strange Mercy is a more ambitious record featuring improved songwriting that is littered with Clark’s personal tribulations.
Helplessness Blues is a cosmic, bombastic record, undaunted and ready to expose itself on every corner with a whole lot of heart.
James Blake is an astonishing record, an early contender for album of the year and could well change the face of popular music.
It’s a massive improvement from her last album, yet it never sacrifices any of her style.
MORE 2011 YEAR END LISTS:
MORE YEAR END LISTS FROM NO RIPCORD: