PopMatters' 75 Best Albums of 2011
It’s a deeply layered record with lots to listen to and appreciate in every sense.
If you had high hopes for Conatus, sing hallelujah as it not only meets expectations, it confidently shrugs and keeps on flying ‘til it’s way outta sight.
Here they weave together sounds into a seamless patchwork, rich in layers and excitement.
Blessed, like Williams’ best efforts, finds the blessings within the blues.
It’s a smart heart record that will bring you sunshine and inexplicably make you feel better about yourself.
Cox has composed his most accessible set of songs to date and offered further proof as to why he’s one of the most important songwriters working today.
How Do You Do is Mayer Hawthorne’s masterpiece to date.
The stylistic explorations on Metals prove that she’s not running out of any ideas, but the moments on the album that most clearly parallel her prior outings aren’t as strong as their predecessors.
The end result is a collection of songs that feel solid if nondescript, that drift into the inoffensive dad-rock palette favored by the likes of late-period Wilco.
They’re not workman-like here, but there is something professional, maybe refined, about their sound now.
Gloss Drop is the sound of a band forging its own identity and delivering on the promise initially unveiled on their previous album.
Watch the Throne succeeds in both and in giving us both sides of both artists—the braggadocio and the social consciousness—in nearly equal measure.
Join Us is just a fun record with no further aspiration than to be party music for geeks.
If you share their general outlook, this album will be one of the best medicines leisure can buy for temporary relief from contemporary life.
Civilian packs a more immediate punch, and hits you with southpaw jabs in the middle of songs, shifting once you’ve bedded down.
Ravedeath, 1972 is so amorphous and ungraspable this way that it ranks as Hecker’s most disorienting record, and therefore, perhaps, his scariest.
With Hood’s songwriting remaining this solid and the band comfortably settling into a great groove, Go-Go Boots could have been four years in the waiting and still would not have disappointed.
... provides this summer with one of its most satisfying releases.
Wasting Light is so consistently good that its minor flaws are subsumed by the sense of goodwill and energy it generates.
Slave Ambient is a well-crafted and euphoric album, but somehow it doesn’t have much that sticks out.
If I Am Very Far frustrates with its lack of clear intentions, it also fascinates for the same reason.
This initial effort is one that shows off strong enough pop chops to win them their fair share of true believers, now and hereafter.
He seems about half-awake, caught between the haziness of sleep and the defensiveness of waking life.
EMA’s work is simultaneously some of the most interesting I’ve heard in years, and jaggedly alive, the furthest thing from any sort of academic exercise.
He’s a rapper who makes himself feel more essential than his raps, which you can ask anyone in the business is one of the hardest coups to pull.
It may be less exuberant and therefore harder to love at first, but it delivers the goods just as surely.
Darnielle seems to be pushing himself here more so than any album since The Sunset Tree.
This is an album with a brilliant sound, one that is as arresting to listen to as it is to puzzle over.
A near perfect album by a performer who seems, at least for the time being, to have learned to focus his wide-open talents on one narrow vein of material, and in the process has struck pure gold.
Even with these toe-dips in fuzzier, darker grooves, there’s still a sanguine blanket that covers Nine Types of Light.
The Whole Love proves the band is still moving forward, still changing, even if it’s not in the lofty ways we expect it to.
Gimme Some reveals a band that is reinvigorated, one that has remembered what it was like to make music without forcing the issue.
MORE 2011 YEAR END LISTS:
MORE YEAR END LISTS FROM POPMATTERS: