25. Beirut – The Rip Tide
It’s never a surprise when listening to a Beirut album. You are going to get horns – lots of them – and the songs are going to be full of pop. And usually, the songs can be rather hit and miss. But with 2011’s The Rip Tide, Zach Condon seems at his most comfortable.
It sounds as if Condon is settled down, reminiscing over his past. Just listen to “Santa Fe.” The song is about his childhood home, and acceptance of the place he didn’t love when he was there.
Listen to: “Santa Fe,” “East Harlem,” “The Rip Tide”
24. The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
The past decade as been full of mash-ups that bring together songs that don’t fit at their surface. Some are great (The Avalanches, Girl Talk) and others just seem like the bedroom projects they are (The xx and Biggie, really?). But The Caretaker is something entirely different.
Taking the concept of mixing together songs and sounds, The Caretaker’s James Kirby mixed up old 78 jazz records. The results are mystifying as they are beautiful.
Listen to: everything in one sitting
23: Juliana Barwick – The Magic Place
In one simple word, the debut album form Barwick is beautiful. There really aren’t words throughout the album. Instead, there are sounds – specifically Barwick’s haunting a-capella. Using a loop stating, songs are built off the emotion and sounds of her voice. They build and build, never quite reaching an apex but never faltering either.
The sound is almost fragile. And it’s breathtaking because of it.
Listen to: “Envelop,” “Cloak,” “White Flag”
22: Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
It’s loud, brash and poetic. Yes, the last adjective usually doesn’t fit with the others, but in the case of Fucked Up’s third album it does.
The concept album is about a man who falls in love and loses her to death. The rest is him dealing with the loss.
It’s all punk and it’s all loud, but it’s fantastic.
Listen to: “Queen of Hearts,” “The Other Shoe,” “Lights Go Up”
21. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
For some it might be surprising to see this so low on my list, but hold on. For every brilliant song, there is a let down. It’s a double album but maybe it should have been a single one.
But when it’s good, there really is nothing like the M83 synths and beauty. Case in point: “Midnight City.”
The possible song of the year has a grandiose feel to it. From the pulsating synths at the beginning to the wonderful song-ending saxophone, the song does everything right.
Listen to: “Intro,” “Midnight City,” “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire”