PopMatters' 75 Best Albums of 2012



LIST SUMMARY
VIEW ORIGINAL LIST
List Rating
80
775 ratings
Genre Breakdown
Hip Hop (6), Indie Rock (5), Indie Pop (4), Experimental (4), Synthpop (3), Rock (3), Folk (3), Alternative Rock (3), R&B (2), Garage Rock (2), Electronic (2), Noise Rock (2), Electropop (2), Soul (2), Post-Rock (2), Dream Pop (2), Singer-Songwriter (2), Psychedelic Rock (2), Alt-Country (2), Jazz (1), Indie Folk (1), Dub Techno (1), Space Rock (1), Deep House (1), Art Pop (1), Funk (1), Experimental Rock (1), Progressive Rock (1), Power Pop (1), Blues (1), Sludge Metal (1), Indietronica (1), Black Metal (1), Neo-Psychedelia (1), Pop (1), Noise Pop (1)

1. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
July 17, 2012
R&B
CRITIC SCORE
91
23 reviews
USER SCORE
84
275 ratings

channel ORANGE finds Frank Ocean rising to the challenge with a class unlike anyone in music these days.

2. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

Japandroids - Celebration Rock
June 5, 2012
Garage Rock
CRITIC SCORE
84
19 reviews
USER SCORE
83
128 ratings

Celebration Rock isn’t a final stand, it’s a push forward.

3. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel

Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel
June 19, 2012
Singer-Songwriter
CRITIC SCORE
87
20 reviews
USER SCORE
84
170 ratings

Whipping Cords seems to require far too many listens to really reach that ‘viola!’ moment—sure to result in exhausted listeners who try desperately to love the record as much as they think they should

4. Beach House - Bloom

Beach House - Bloom
May 15, 2012
Dream Pop
CRITIC SCORE
81
18 reviews
USER SCORE
84
260 ratings

Bloom is a gushing collection of top tier songs that have been carefully knitted together for maximum impact, and is absolutely gorgeous and stunning.

5. Swans - The Seer

Swans - The Seer
August 28, 2012
Post-Rock
CRITIC SCORE
89
20 reviews
USER SCORE
85
142 ratings

The Seer ... is a brave record, one that at times threatens to lose its hold on you, but in the end one that manages to be self indulgent without being self serving. 

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

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
May 15, 2012
Hip Hop
CRITIC SCORE
84
18 reviews
USER SCORE
82
73 ratings

Biographical shock value aside, R.A.P. Music provides enough jaw drops on its own merits that it’s sure to be a record that comes to define 2010s hip-hop in some way.

7. Tame Impala - Lonerism

Tame Impala - Lonerism
October 9, 2012
Psychedelic Rock
CRITIC SCORE
86
20 reviews
USER SCORE
87
310 ratings

Lonerism takes you out of yourself, yet somehow deep within yourself, to lay a bedrock of familiar and warming sounds.

8. Jessie Ware - Devotion

Jessie Ware - Devotion
August 20, 2012
Soul
CRITIC SCORE
83
18 reviews
USER SCORE
81
77 ratings

In an industry of singers defined by the music behind them, Jessie Ware can only be defined as the best voice of 2012.

9. 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
89
18 reviews
USER SCORE
88
259 ratings

Providing the sort of semi-autobiographical character arc, good kid would be enough for some, but it’s the lush environs surrounding this “short film” that makes good kid not only a compelling story, but also musically interesting.

10. Chromatics - Kill for Love

Chromatics - Kill for Love
March 26, 2012
Synthpop
CRITIC SCORE
82
18 reviews
USER SCORE
82
123 ratings

Kill for Love is a heavy-hearted but eternally romantic midnight road movie for the mind that’ll haunt you long after those taillights fade.

11. Grimes - Visions

Grimes - Visions
February 21, 2012
Synthpop
CRITIC SCORE
80
23 reviews
USER SCORE
83
196 ratings

Visions’ rebellious contrariness to evade classification is part of the design and certainly part of the charm.

12. Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden

Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden
February 28, 2012
CRITIC SCORE
73
4 reviews
USER SCORE
NR

13. The Walkmen - Heaven

The Walkmen - Heaven
May 29, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
80
22 reviews
USER SCORE
82
63 ratings

It is not their finest hour, since its 47 minutes end up feeling longer than either You & Me or Lisbon, but it may be their most compelling. 

14. Jack White - Blunderbuss

Jack White - Blunderbuss
April 24, 2012
Rock
CRITIC SCORE
79
20 reviews
USER SCORE
77
77 ratings

In the end, Blunderbuss is a confused little record that wants to be two things at once: a pointed statement about the pains of a breakup and a collection of songs that are both daring and wacky and eccentric all at once.

15. Baroness - Yellow & Green

Baroness - Yellow & Green
July 17, 2012
Sludge Metal
CRITIC SCORE
76
12 reviews
USER SCORE
81
14 ratings

For those willing to support a progressive band in their selfish exploration of their musical capabilities—give Yellow & Green enough time to bear its soul to you.

16. 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
84
17 reviews
USER SCORE
82
87 ratings

17. Pepe Deluxé - Queen of the Wave

Pepe Deluxé - Queen of the Wave
January 30, 2012
Electronic
CRITIC SCORE
65
8 reviews
USER SCORE
91
1 rating

18. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
January 24, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
80
17 reviews
USER SCORE
83
143 ratings

It’s great, catchy as hell, and bristling with retro rage and vitriol.

19. Grizzly Bear - Shields

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

While Shields may mark a transition for the band in terms of the immediate emotional impact of their music, it is clear that they have not in any way abandoned their expansive approach to melody and song structure. 

20. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light
April 17, 2012
Space Rock
CRITIC SCORE
81
20 reviews
USER SCORE
82
97 ratings

Though there’s no shortage of beauty or orchestral decoration on Sweet Heart Sweet Light, the influence of a middle age precipice on those pop trappings gives the album a rare and yes, spiritual, power.

21. The Maccabees - Given to the Wild

The Maccabees - Given to the Wild
January 6, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
68
9 reviews
USER SCORE
78
24 ratings

Given to the Wild is an accomplished, filler-free record that presents a band at peak condition, handily exceeding the marginal example set by similar-sounding acts.

22. The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter

The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
September 11, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
71
10 reviews
USER SCORE
80
9 ratings

Many of the band’s best moments have been quieter ones, and The Carpenter finds a nice balance between introspective and raucous.

23. Taylor Swift - Red

Taylor Swift - Red
October 22, 2012
Pop
CRITIC SCORE
72
10 reviews
USER SCORE
68
28 ratings

At 16 songs long, Red could use more editing and streamlining with a less-is-more mindset as a guiding principle, particularly since the quieter numbers—which also happen to be some of the album’s strongest moments—get lost in the sound and fury of Swift’s grand gestures.

24. The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth

The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth
October 2, 2012
Indie Rock
CRITIC SCORE
78
16 reviews
USER SCORE
80
17 ratings

It is an unlikely collection of absolute pop anthems, more so than most Mountain Goats albums.

25. Galactic - Carnivale Electricos

Galactic - Carnivale Electricos
February 21, 2012
Funk
CRITIC SCORE
68
4 reviews
USER SCORE
75
1 rating

26. Dr. John - Locked Down

Dr. John - Locked Down
April 3, 2012
Blues
CRITIC SCORE
79
13 reviews
USER SCORE
77
15 ratings

Ultimately it is nice to hear a living legend treated like the still-vibrant artist that he is.

27. Father John Misty - Fear Fun

Father John Misty - Fear Fun
May 1, 2012
Folk
CRITIC SCORE
77
12 reviews
USER SCORE
79
47 ratings

28. Andy Stott - Luxury Problems

Andy Stott - Luxury Problems
October 29, 2012
Dub Techno
CRITIC SCORE
85
11 reviews
USER SCORE
83
57 ratings

The inherent darkness of Stott’s carious and degraded mixes, souped up in reverberating drone and pointillized by granular detail, is here juxtaposed against the often sweet, sometimes harrowing voice of his one-time mentor.

29. Death Grips - The Money Store

Death Grips - The Money Store
April 24, 2012
Hip Hop
CRITIC SCORE
84
16 reviews
USER SCORE
85
160 ratings

30. Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio

Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio
February 28, 2012
CRITIC SCORE
75
4 reviews
USER SCORE
90
1 rating

31. Hot Chip - In Our Heads

Hot Chip - In Our Heads
June 11, 2012
Electropop
CRITIC SCORE
74
16 reviews
USER SCORE
79
73 ratings

In Our Heads is proof that Hot Chip are succeeding on their consistently impressive musical journey, and as far as I can see there’s still much to be learned from these songwriters.

32. Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society

Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society
March 20, 2012
Jazz
CRITIC SCORE
60
2 reviews
USER SCORE
87
1 rating

33. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man
October 15, 2012
Indie Pop
CRITIC SCORE
78
20 reviews
USER SCORE
81
83 ratings

The Haunted Man is all about Khan letting her guard down, which you can hear in the yearning pitch of her voice and the bleeding-heart themes of her songs.

34. The Touré-Raichel Collective - The Tel Aviv Session

The Touré-Raichel Collective - The Tel Aviv Session
March 26, 2012
CRITIC SCORE
73
3 reviews
USER SCORE
NR

35. El-P - Cancer 4 Cure

El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
May 22, 2012
Hip Hop
CRITIC SCORE
85
21 reviews
USER SCORE
82
58 ratings

36. Nas - Life is Good

Nas - Life is Good
July 17, 2012
Hip Hop
CRITIC SCORE
82
18 reviews
USER SCORE
79
33 ratings

37. Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream
October 2, 2012
R&B
CRITIC SCORE
84
10 reviews
USER SCORE
81
61 ratings

It may not blindly take the artistic risks of Channel Orange, but it’s a more consistently enjoyable album than Frank Ocean’s magnum opus.

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

David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant
September 11, 2012
Art Pop
CRITIC SCORE
72
18 reviews
USER SCORE
75
37 ratings

Although you wouldn’t expect anything less from artists of this high a caliber, it still comes as a pleasant surprise how cohesive, complete, and thought through Love This Giant is for a one-off all-star collab.

39. 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
75
29 ratings

40. The Men - Open Your Heart

The Men - Open Your Heart
March 6, 2012
Noise Rock
CRITIC SCORE
84
17 reviews
USER SCORE
81
62 ratings

At the end of the day, the Men aren’t quite all they’re cracked up to be, but even a bitter cynic like me has to admit, this album is worth a listen.

41. Quantic & Alice Russell - Look Around the Corner

Quantic & Alice Russell - Look Around the Corner
April 3, 2012
CRITIC SCORE
70
2 reviews
USER SCORE
NR

42. Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes

Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes
October 2, 2012
Electronic
CRITIC SCORE
84
21 reviews
USER SCORE
80
106 ratings

The more you listen to Until the Quiet Comes, the more you get the sense that you’re only scratching the surface of how much is really going on with it.

43. METZ - METZ

METZ - METZ
October 9, 2012
Noise Rock
CRITIC SCORE
81
13 reviews
USER SCORE
80
46 ratings

Undeniably one of my favorite albums of the year, METZ shines brightly, like a Molotov cocktail at the moment of impact.

44. Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre Is Evil

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre Is Evil
September 11, 2012
Alternative Rock
CRITIC SCORE
76
10 reviews
USER SCORE
74
14 ratings

A truly special album, one that will reach out and grab you by the lapels and shake the life out of, or into, you.

45. Bob Mould - Silver Age

Bob Mould - Silver Age
September 4, 2012
Alternative Rock
CRITIC SCORE
77
13 reviews
USER SCORE
67
11 ratings

This is the kind of record that Bob Mould could have made in his sleep.

46. Julia Holter - Ekstasis

Julia Holter - Ekstasis
March 6, 2012
Experimental
CRITIC SCORE
82
16 reviews
USER SCORE
81
54 ratings

The reward that her music offers is substantial, as Ekstasis is one of the most unusual and unprecedented indie pop albums to come along in quite awhile.

47. Ryan Bingham - Tomorrowland

Ryan Bingham - Tomorrowland
September 18, 2012
Alt-Country
CRITIC SCORE
68
4 reviews
USER SCORE
81
2 ratings

There’s just a great flow that makes Tomorrowland feel like one of those albums you’ll listen to in the car on countless road trips.

48. Lambchop - Mr. M

Lambchop - Mr. M
February 21, 2012
Alt-Country
CRITIC SCORE
77
18 reviews
USER SCORE
75
20 ratings

There is a lot of sadness on the album. At their core these are songs of isolation, desperation and the distance between people.

49. Iris DeMent - Sing The Delta

Iris DeMent - Sing The Delta
October 2, 2012
CRITIC SCORE
73
3 reviews
USER SCORE
NR

50. Paul Weller - Sonik Kicks

Paul Weller - Sonik Kicks
March 27, 2012
Rock
CRITIC SCORE
71
12 reviews
USER SCORE
71
5 ratings

Weller has made an extremely worthy case for remaining the master of his craft.

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Original Source: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/tools/full/166270

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