Yes, it’s that time of year again – absolute heaven for list writers as we try to assemble our favourite albums of the year into a single, ordered list.
We’ve gone for 50 this time rather than 25, although last year we did name our ‘next 25′ (unordered) as well as a further ten that we’d hoped to have listened to more.
We’ve not done that this time, although we appreciate the futily/ridiculousness of a single man assembling no fewer than 50 pieces of listening pleasure into an order of preference; also the fact that if it had been a different day and different mood, the make-up of this list could have been radically different. But sod it.
Here’s a blast through 50-26 with audiovisual context for all these great albums. The next five days will cover 25-1 with a bit more on why the Tidal Wave of Indifference thinks they’re so good. Here we go….
50. The Douglas Firs – Happy As a Windless Flag
A fine effort from the Edinburgh act, exemplified by key songs I Will Kill Again and The Shadow Line.
49. The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo
Who said Kiwis couldn’t do dreamy indie?
48. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Perhaps not their best, but their always interesting and epic.
47. Friendly Fires – Pala
A decent fist of following up 2008′s debut. Simple pop songs crammed with hooks.
46. The Antlers – Burst Apart
Again, not in the same league as their amazing debut Hospice, but we’ve a lot of time for Peter Silberman and his squad.
45. Driver Drive Faster – Open House
Polytechnic weren’t great but their key figures regrouped for this lovely slab of indie pop, championed by Marc Riley
44. The Field – Looping State of Mind
Mind-warping German shoegaze techno. Nice.
43. Sparrow and the Workshop – Spitting Daggers
Increased momentum from Jill O’Sullivan and co. Every bit as good as their brace of mini-albums from the past few years.
42. The Kills – Blood Pressures
Their best yet? Unlike Jack White, Alison Mosshart hasn’t let the distraction of the Dead Weather get to her.
41. Bibio – Mind Bokeh
Good stuff this, a freaky eclectic album that defied all genres.
40. Dutch Uncles – Cadenza
A more than reasonable attempt at XTC-aping wonk-pop from a young Manchester troupe.
39. United Fruit – Fault Lines
Scotland does Fugazi/Trail of Dead noise. And does it damn well.
38. The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts
A return to form after a lengthy absence with help from Bethany Best Coast.
37. Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys
They’ll never recapture the magic of Asleep in the Back but it was a darned sight better than their dreary 2008 Mercury winner.
36. Mazes – A Thousand Heys
Joyous, scuzzy indie pop that does exactly what it says on the tin.
35. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – The Tao of the Dead
A fresh line-up and fresh ambition from the Texans. Big rock songs and proggy madness.
34. Wye Oak – Civilian
Built mainly on two songs – Holy Holy and Dog’s Eyes – what songs they were.
33. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Former pop ingenue took on Jonsí-esque levels of lunacy and created a stunning record of massive tunes.
32. Come on Gang! – Strike a Match
Already much-missed Edinburgh indie-pop three-piece’s first – and last – album.
31. Trips and Falls – People Have to Be Told
Tongue-in-cheek pop from Song, by Toad’s American imports.
30. Adam Stafford – Build A Harbour Immediately
Very much a slow burner. We were unconvinced after his album launch but repeated listens saw this shoot up in our opinion and we’re now converts to his live show too.
29. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo
Sleepy, stoned stuff from the prolific singer-songwriter.
28. Kate Bush – Fifty Words for Snow
Utterly, utterly baffling. Stephen Fry naming (oh yes) fifty words for snow, a song about shagging a snowman and a rare occasion where an Elton John guest appearance enhances, rather than ruins, a song.
27. The Horrors – Skying
The NME still love them, and this is some rare common ground for ourseleves and the increasingly childish music weekly. Where shoegaze meets garage meets dream pop.
26. Low – C’mon
Probably their best album in three years, this was short, sharp and bloody great.