Paste's 50 Best Albums of 2012



LIST SUMMARY
VIEW ORIGINAL LIST
List Rating
80
564 ratings
Genre Breakdown
Folk (9), Indie Rock (8), Singer-Songwriter (5), Indie Pop (4), Garage Rock (3), Hip Hop (3), Dream Pop (2), Indie Folk (2), Art Pop (1), Soul (1), Noise Rock (1), Bluegrass (1), Lo-Fi (1), Alt-Country (1), Synthpop (1), Psychedelic Rock (1), Blues (1), Experimental Rock (1), Neo-Psychedelia (1), Blues Rock (1), Sludge Metal (1), Folk Rock (1), Rock (1), R&B (1), Post-Rock (1)

1. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
July 17, 2012
R&B
CRITIC SCORE
92
23 reviews
USER SCORE
84
268 ratings

Restraint is key to the execution of Channel Orange, a neo-R&B album that, for all its layered beauty, never overwhelms.

2. Father John Misty - Fear Fun

Father John Misty - Fear Fun
May 1, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
78
12 reviews
USER SCORE
80
46 ratings

3. Titus Andronicus - Local Business

Titus Andronicus - Local Business
October 23, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
75
15 reviews
USER SCORE
74
18 ratings

This collection is the band’s tightest and most cohesive, and they do so without losing any of the grit. 

4. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel

Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel
June 19, 2012
Singer-Songwriter
CRITIC SCORE
88
20 reviews
USER SCORE
84
166 ratings

Few vocalists can erase the distance between performer and listener as shrewdly as Apple can, and that toggle gives The Idler Wheel its strange power.

5. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
February 7, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
81
21 reviews
USER SCORE
82
75 ratings

6. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls

Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
April 10, 2012
Blues Rock
CRITIC SCORE
73
16 reviews
USER SCORE
75
33 ratings

Fortunately for the Shakes ... their first true album Boys & Girls only justifies the fervor surrounding them.

7. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
July 10, 2012
Experimental Rock
CRITIC SCORE
83
22 reviews
USER SCORE
83
130 ratings

Listening to Swing Lo Magellan feels more like sneaking up on the band in the midst of an intense rehearsal, rather than the group coming forward and saying, “Look what we’ve made.”

8. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

Japandroids - Celebration Rock
June 5, 2012
Garage Rock
CRITIC SCORE
85
19 reviews
USER SCORE
83
121 ratings

9. Beach House - Bloom

Beach House - Bloom
May 15, 2012
Dream Pop
CRITIC SCORE
82
18 reviews
USER SCORE
84
253 ratings

It’s an album that’s sure to satisfy long-time fans while undoubtedly garnering the band even more media buzz.

10. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
January 24, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
76
12 reviews
USER SCORE
80
36 ratings

11. The Men - Open Your Heart

The Men - Open Your Heart
March 6, 2012
Noise Rock
CRITIC SCORE
85
17 reviews
USER SCORE
81
61 ratings

12. El-P - Cancer 4 Cure

El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
May 22, 2012
Hip Hop
CRITIC SCORE
86
21 reviews
USER SCORE
81
56 ratings

Cancer For Cure is a shirked, claustrophobic, paranoid clutter of rhyming conspiracy theories.

13. The Shins - Port of Morrow

The Shins - Port of Morrow
March 20, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
72
19 reviews
USER SCORE
74
51 ratings

14. The Walkmen - Heaven

The Walkmen - Heaven
May 29, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
81
22 reviews
USER SCORE
82
61 ratings

Its significance stems from the band’s growth and evolution, primarily reflected in the lyrics.

15. Jack White - Blunderbuss

Jack White - Blunderbuss
April 24, 2012
Rock
CRITIC SCORE
80
20 reviews
USER SCORE
78
75 ratings

At the end of the day, White’s still an enigma, and so is Blunderbuss, its mysteries unfolding in odd ways when you least expect it.

16. Tame Impala - Lonerism

Tame Impala - Lonerism
October 9, 2012
Psychedelic Rock
CRITIC SCORE
87
20 reviews
USER SCORE
87
298 ratings

While Lonerism does feel a bit more expansive, utilizing even more of mixer Dave Fridmann’s fancy effects pedals and studio wizardry, it uses those tools to delve even further inward.

17. Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself

Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself
March 6, 2012
Indie Folk
CRITIC SCORE
79
18 reviews
USER SCORE
79
24 ratings

Above all, Andrew Bird is a highly skilled musician capable of crafting an album full of delightful little moments that make the album worth a fair listen, and more.

18. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city

Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city
October 22, 2012
Hip Hop
CRITIC SCORE
90
18 reviews
USER SCORE
88
254 ratings

19. Rufus Wainwright - Out of the Game

Rufus Wainwright - Out of the Game
May 1, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
72
11 reviews
USER SCORE
72
5 ratings

20. The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth

The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth
October 2, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
79
16 reviews
USER SCORE
80
16 ratings

The album doesn’t match the group’s best output, but it’s a strong and occasionally stunning entry.

21. The Lumineers - The Lumineers

The Lumineers - The Lumineers
April 3, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
72
3 reviews
USER SCORE
76
20 ratings

22. Hospitality - Hospitality

Hospitality - Hospitality
January 31, 2012
Indie Pop
CRITIC SCORE
74
11 reviews
USER SCORE
79
10 ratings

23. Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't

Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't
September 4, 2012
Indie Pop
CRITIC SCORE
78
17 reviews
USER SCORE
79
20 ratings

I Know What Love Isn’t, therefore, sounds like the culmination of his career, a record marking his arrival at a sound we knew he would get to eventually.

24. Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
March 27, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
69
8 reviews
USER SCORE
85
2 ratings

Nothing’s Gonna Change… is ultimately the kind of album you can curl up into, let the warm tones surround you and rest easy

25. Grizzly Bear - Shields

Grizzly Bear - Shields
September 18, 2012
Indie Folk
CRITIC SCORE
85
22 reviews
USER SCORE
84
249 ratings

Though at time reaching heavenly heights, Shields is, as the name suggests, a heavy, protected album, stuffy with an ennui particular to the young and gifted.

26. Bob Dylan - Tempest

Bob Dylan - Tempest
September 11, 2012
Singer-Songwriter
CRITIC SCORE
78
14 reviews
USER SCORE
69
23 ratings

27. John K. Samson - Provincial

John K. Samson - Provincial
January 24, 2012
CRITIC SCORE
76
3 reviews
USER SCORE
95
1 rating

28. Divine Fits - A Thing Called the Divine Fits

Divine Fits - A Thing Called the Divine Fits
August 28, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
78
14 reviews
USER SCORE
76
21 ratings

29. Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
May 15, 2012
Hip Hop
CRITIC SCORE
85
18 reviews
USER SCORE
82
71 ratings

30. David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant

David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant
September 11, 2012
Art Pop
CRITIC SCORE
73
18 reviews
USER SCORE
75
36 ratings

It is, in other words, a deeply weird and deeply lovely record, albeit one that listeners should do their best to listen to with as few preconceptions as possible.

31. The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter

The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
September 11, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
72
10 reviews
USER SCORE
80
9 ratings

The Carpenter provides a return to rudimentary Avett songwriting, in that the most striking moments on the record are born from playful banjo-guitar banter and confessions revealed in 4/4 time. 

32. Woods - Bend Beyond

Woods - Bend Beyond
September 18, 2012
Lo-Fi
CRITIC SCORE
80
14 reviews
USER SCORE
77
17 ratings

33. Howler - America Give Up

Howler - America Give Up
January 17, 2012
Garage Rock
CRITIC SCORE
67
11 reviews
USER SCORE
75
4 ratings

34. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
January 24, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
81
17 reviews
USER SCORE
83
138 ratings

35. King Tuff - King Tuff

King Tuff - King Tuff
May 29, 2012
Garage Rock
CRITIC SCORE
75
9 reviews
USER SCORE
80
15 ratings

36. Cat Power - Sun

Cat Power - Sun
September 4, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
77
21 reviews
USER SCORE
76
55 ratings

There’s something about the flaws on this thing—the way Marshall lets it all hang loose, the way she continually tries to express a sentiment she can’t quite put into words—that’s absolutely fascinating in its humanity and compassion.

37. Shovels & Rope - O' Be Joyful

Shovels & Rope - O' Be Joyful
July 31, 2012
CRITIC SCORE
NR
USER SCORE
95
1 rating

38. Dr. John - Locked Down

Dr. John - Locked Down
April 3, 2012
Blues
CRITIC SCORE
80
13 reviews
USER SCORE
77
15 ratings

Teaming with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who brought atmospherics, buzzy guitars and quicksand grooves that pull you in, this is 21st century mojo essentialized.

39. Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas

Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
January 31, 2012
Singer-Songwriter
CRITIC SCORE
82
16 reviews
USER SCORE
76
21 ratings

Old Ideas builds on the promise of his recent world tours and return to the limelight with his strongest, most unified album in decades.

40. Todd Snider - Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables

Todd Snider - Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables
March 6, 2012
Singer-Songwriter
CRITIC SCORE
80
6 reviews
USER SCORE
80
2 ratings

Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables may just be a serious contender for the album with the worst attitude of 2012.

41. Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is an Animal

Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is an Animal
April 3, 2012
Indie Pop
CRITIC SCORE
74
6 reviews
USER SCORE
74
28 ratings

Even with a few skipable tracks, though, Of Monsters and Men bring an Icelandic exoticism and captivating energy to U.S. audiences on My Head is an Animal.

42. Bettye LaVette - Thankful N' Thoughtful

Bettye LaVette - Thankful N' Thoughtful
September 25, 2012
Soul
CRITIC SCORE
75
4 reviews
USER SCORE
NR

43. Stars - The North

Stars - The North
September 4, 2012
Indie Pop
CRITIC SCORE
74
9 reviews
USER SCORE
74
12 ratings

Just like releases that precede it, The North offers yet another glimpse into the minds of a band that challenges the barriers of genre and songwriting.

44. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
October 16, 2012
Post-Rock
CRITIC SCORE
85
17 reviews
USER SCORE
82
85 ratings

It’s tense, it’s beautiful, it’s bleak, it takes the listener from point A to point B while leaving it up to us what the point of the ride is to begin with.

45. Punch Brothers - Who's Feeling Young Now?

Punch Brothers - Who's Feeling Young Now?
February 14, 2012
Bluegrass
CRITIC SCORE
82
6 reviews
USER SCORE
75
16 ratings

46. Damien Jurado - Maraqopa

Damien Jurado - Maraqopa
February 21, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
81
15 reviews
USER SCORE
79
12 ratings

47. Baroness - Yellow & Green

Baroness - Yellow & Green
July 17, 2012
Sludge Metal
CRITIC SCORE
77
12 reviews
USER SCORE
81
14 ratings

Yellow & Green casts off the shackles of expectation while simultaneously taking a measured step in the direction of accessibility.

48. Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams

Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
October 9, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
62
7 reviews
USER SCORE
80
3 ratings

49. Kelly Hogan - I Like To Keep Myself In Pain

Kelly Hogan - I Like To Keep Myself In Pain
June 5, 2012
Alt-Country
CRITIC SCORE
74
8 reviews
USER SCORE
72
1 rating

50. Grimes - Visions

Grimes - Visions
February 21, 2012
Synthpop
CRITIC SCORE
81
23 reviews
USER SCORE
83
189 ratings
Original Source: http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2012/11/the-50-best-albums-of-2012.html

MORE 2012 YEAR END LISTS:


MORE YEAR END LISTS FROM PASTE:


Check out our 2012 Year End Summary.