PopMatters' 75 Best Albums of 2012
channel ORANGE finds Frank Ocean rising to the challenge with a class unlike anyone in music these days.
Celebration Rock isn’t a final stand, it’s a push forward.
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
Bloom is a gushing collection of top tier songs that have been carefully knitted together for maximum impact, and is absolutely gorgeous and stunning.
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.
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.
Lonerism takes you out of yourself, yet somehow deep within yourself, to lay a bedrock of familiar and warming sounds.
In an industry of singers defined by the music behind them, Jessie Ware can only be defined as the best voice of 2012.
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.
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.
Visions’ rebellious contrariness to evade classification is part of the design and certainly part of the charm.
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.
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.
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.
It’s great, catchy as hell, and bristling with retro rage and vitriol.
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.
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.
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.
Many of the band’s best moments have been quieter ones, and The Carpenter finds a nice balance between introspective and raucous.
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.
It is an unlikely collection of absolute pop anthems, more so than most Mountain Goats albums.
Ultimately it is nice to hear a living legend treated like the still-vibrant artist that he is.
Ultimately, it’ll be hard to find a more awe-inspiring album this year than Fear Fun. This is a record that deserves a spot in just about any contemporary music collection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Undeniably one of my favorite albums of the year, METZ shines brightly, like a Molotov cocktail at the moment of impact.
A truly special album, one that will reach out and grab you by the lapels and shake the life out of, or into, you.
This is the kind of record that Bob Mould could have made in his sleep.
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.
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.
There is a lot of sadness on the album. At their core these are songs of isolation, desperation and the distance between people.
MORE 2012 YEAR END LISTS:
MORE YEAR END LISTS FROM POPMATTERS: