Under the Radar's Top 50 Albums of 2012

Under the Radar's Top 50 Albums of 2012

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50. Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend

January 24, 2012
Critic Score
74
18 reviews

Strange Weekend is ultimately a pop album—a flight of lo-fi fancy anchored by some very real (and very catchy) pop hooks.

49. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

January 24, 2012
Critic Score
75
21 reviews

Throughout, the lyrics ring with honesty and charm, the phrasing gently off at times, emphasizing a missed moment, a passing fancy.

48. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy
October 9, 2012
Critic Score
71
14 reviews

It’s the Black Moth Super Rainbow recording we’ve been waiting for: unchecked and as wonky as ever, but with just enough structure to give it a lasting impact. 

47. Ultraísta - Ultraísta

Ultraísta - Ultraísta
October 2, 2012
Critic Score
67
8 reviews

Ultraísta could so easily have been yet another post-dubstep decent-but-disposable record. Instead the trio have managed to create something that genuinely impresses and surprises.

46. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

June 5, 2012
Critic Score
82
27 reviews

Aptly, the title is about as subtle and nuanced as the record itself: a short, samey burst of enjoyable, yet disposable, garage rock. 

45. Cat Power - Sun

September 4, 2012
Critic Score
79
35 reviews

Lacking that up-close-and-personal aesthetic, Sun isn't likely to land among the singer/songwriter's best records.

43. Chad Valley - Young Hunger

October 30, 2012
Critic Score
63
12 reviews

Even if Manuel’s a better producer and pop visionary than he is a singer, Young Hunger is still a delightfully shameless, anthemic embrace of young love, keyboard wizardry, the ’80s, and the ’90s.

42. Kindness - World, You Need a Change of Mind

March 20, 2012
Critic Score
65
14 reviews

The sound may be a nod to the past, but this is no tongue-in-cheek trip down memory lane. 

41. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

February 7, 2012
Critic Score
79
27 reviews

Tramp ups the game on both fronts—her songs have a newfound bravado, and her crushing heartache has become tempered with acceptance and understanding.

40. Frankie Rose - Interstellar

February 21, 2012
Critic Score
75
29 reviews

It's Rose's crowning achievement to date, a gorgeously impressionistic album that's a quantum artistic leap forward for this exceptionally talented songwriter.

39. Paul Banks - Banks

October 23, 2012
Critic Score
72
14 reviews

Banks is all new material, and is a manifestation of the quantum leap Banks has taken as a songwriter and arranger.

38. Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits

August 28, 2012
Critic Score
79
19 reviews

A Thing Called the Divine Fits does a fantastic job building on many of the strengths of its members to create a new, exciting project. 

37. TR/ST - TRST

TR/ST - TRST
February 28, 2012
Critic Score
71
13 reviews

36. Menomena - Moms

Menomena - Moms
September 18, 2012
Critic Score
81
20 reviews

Remaining members Justin Harris and Danny Seim have created an album that's just as musically twisted and thematically perverse as their previous outings...and a whole lotta fun to sing along to. 

35. Taken By Trees - Other Worlds

October 2, 2012
Critic Score
70
9 reviews

Bergsman uses the idea of Hawaii—palm trees, sepia-tinted photos of beach sunsets, the gentle rhythms of the ocean—to provide a pervading mood of calm.

34. Field Music - Plumb

February 14, 2012
Critic Score
76
21 reviews

It’s far more opaque than Measure at first listen, a rat maze of persnickety, unpredictable pop that’s more akin to the first few full-lengths.

32. Violens - True

Violens - True
May 15, 2012
Critic Score
69
11 reviews

They've found their stride—really completed the vision—here.

31. Hot Chip - In Our Heads

June 11, 2012
Critic Score
74
30 reviews

30. Choir of Young Believers - Rhine Gold

Choir of Young Believers - Rhine Gold
April 10, 2012
Critic Score
74
13 reviews

Choir of Young Believers has expanded upon the blueprint outlined on their well-crafted first album and channeled it into a sophomore release that's really outstanding.

29. Swans - The Seer

August 28, 2012
Critic Score
86
29 reviews

With a firmly established legend behind him, The Seer doesn't serve to endear him to new fans but rather to deepen his already compelling narrative.

28. Dan Deacon - America

August 28, 2012
Critic Score
80
26 reviews

"USA" alone makes America one of 2012's striking moments and new high-water mark for Dan Deacon's ever-ascending career. 

27. Twin Shadow - Confess

July 10, 2012
Critic Score
77
30 reviews

The collection is streamlined, but not minimal, and it boasts stylish anger that could soundtrack a thousand fashion collections. 

25. Purity Ring - Shrines

July 24, 2012
Critic Score
77
33 reviews

The record largely blurs together into a gloriously inscrutable haze, but certain songs resonate as sundry, singular experiences.

24. Liars - WIXIW

June 5, 2012
Critic Score
82
28 reviews

WIXIW succeeds at carrying a consistent, immersive mood from start to finish, possibly more than any of the group's output. 

23. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes

August 21, 2012
Critic Score
70
31 reviews

Ariel Pink lays on the humor thick enough that his sheer songwriting ability is at times almost overshadowed. 

22. How to Dress Well - Total Loss

September 18, 2012
Critic Score
78
21 reviews

When Krell is on, he’s on. When he’s not, at least the mood remains intact

21. Lower Dens - Nootropics

May 1, 2012
Critic Score
79
20 reviews

The end result is an intriguing, ambitious set of songs that reward those who opt for full immersion, rather than cherry-picking tracks, with each listen.

20. Bear in Heaven - I Love You, It's Cool

Bear in Heaven - I Love You, It's Cool
April 3, 2012
Critic Score
71
19 reviews

It's subtle moments like these that illustrate just how far Bear in Heaven have progressed as songwriters, and I Love You, It's Cool is an album rife with them.

19. Jessie Ware - Devotion

August 20, 2012
Critic Score
81
30 reviews

18. Passion Pit - Gossamer

July 24, 2012
Critic Score
74
29 reviews

Each song on Gossamer is a dance party staple for those paper lantern occasions that you only realize the significance of years later.

17. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light

April 17, 2012
Critic Score
78
32 reviews

Iit's another resounding triumph for Pierce.

16. DIIV - Oshin

June 26, 2012
Critic Score
78
21 reviews

It's clearly the product of a band in a conventional sense, one tightened like a corkscrew by relentless touring and songwriting.

15. Yeasayer - Fragrant World

August 21, 2012
Critic Score
68
30 reviews

The songs throughout Fragrant World are arrestingly forward-thinking without shying away from invoking music's rich pageantry.

14. alt-J - An Awesome Wave

May 28, 2012
Critic Score
79
16 reviews

It's uncommon for bands to achieve cohesiveness amidst such high levels of quirk; on their debut, Alt-J have done much better than that.

13. Father John Misty - Fear Fun

May 1, 2012
Critic Score
78
19 reviews

It's clear from the start with the gorgeous opener, "Funtimes in Babylon," that Tillman's is a singular talent

12. Chromatics - Kill for Love

March 26, 2012
Critic Score
81
23 reviews

With a clear opening and finale, upbeat moments and downbeat ones, romance, tragedy, and plot twists, Kill for Love feels less like an album and more like a feature film. 

11. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

July 17, 2012
Critic Score
91
33 reviews

No expectation could have prepared listeners for how good this album is.

10. Grimes - Visions

February 21, 2012
Critic Score
79
34 reviews

Visions isn’t as much of an evolution as it is an elongation

9. Grizzly Bear - Shields

September 18, 2012
Critic Score
81
31 reviews

The album is filled with wonderful little moments that add up to create a remarkable whole. 

7. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

July 10, 2012
Critic Score
81
34 reviews

While Dirty Projectors have always been driven by core member David Longstreth's vision, Magellan benefits from its feel as a band record.

6. Chairlift - Something

January 24, 2012
Critic Score
76
22 reviews

Once again Chairlift displays a potent blend of smarts and charm

4. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

October 15, 2012
Critic Score
78
33 reviews

Stripped down of any excessive ornamentation, it's the most raw incarnation of Bat For Lashes we've heard yet.

3. Beach House - Bloom

May 15, 2012
Critic Score
76
33 reviews

Despite the album title, the duo picks right up where it left off on 2010's Teen Dream.

2. Tame Impala - Lonerism

October 9, 2012
Critic Score
87
28 reviews

Arrangements explode or implode, meticulous vocal melodies rub up against perverse sonic sensibilities, genres are hopped, and fidelity is determined by the pure haste of getting ideas down.

1. Wild Nothing - Nocturne

August 28, 2012
Critic Score
77
21 reviews

This time around, Tatum is attacking the form with a more "adult" approach, careful in its construction and aware of its context—but somehow eternally youthful in its vision, still lost in the clouds.

Original Source: http://www.undertheradarmag.com/lists/under_the_radar_top_100_albums_of_2012/
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