The countdown begins, as we look back at the best music of the year

07:00 19th December 2015

After a strong debut album in Drones, Younghusband - who are led by Euan Hinshelwood who also plays guitar for Meilyr Jones - have done themselves proud on their second album. They’ve created something that sticks to their love of '60s pop and psychedelia but feels more accomplished in terms of songwriting. It powerfully lifts your mood and feels appropriate to chill out to on a mountain top but it also has some gutsy moments that would lift the dance floor live. Their gig in support of Pond earlier this year proved so. (Will Butler)

While it may not be their best work, it's a work of hard rock, operatic melodrama - consider it 'the best of Muse', in the sense that it runs in the vein of all that makes this band great, despite not reaching the highest heights of their true brilliance. It strips away many of the bells, whistles and unnecessary flamboyance picked up during The Resistance and The 2nd Law, sounding more like the trashy three-piece you fell in love with way back when, but naturally loaded with enough extravagance to make it loveably ridiculous. Drones is by far their most consistent, focussed and complete work since Black Holes And Revelations - a listen of good, old-fashioned, bat-shit rock fun. (Andrew Trendell)

If I were to start to summary with a sentence that reads: “Dan Deacon puts the Dan in dan-ce music” - you’d groan, I’d groan and Dan Deacon would probably love it because he loves the sophomoric pleasures of life. Gliss Riffer is satellite of bubbling insecurity polarised by boggling dance grooves and otherworldly whirrs. It requires patience to extract the sentiment but is equally as affirming as a surface encounter. (Will Butler)

"Is this the sound of your heart?" pines Susanne Sundfør on the bubbling elegiac grace of 'Fade Away' - for us, it's certainly the sound of falling in love. With six albums to her name (numerous topping the Norwegian charts) and having collaborated with the likes of M83 and Royksopp, her influence on bringing credibility to the dancefloor over the last decade is never in question. This is by far her crowning achievement. From the cinematic ghosthouse chill of 'Accelerate' to the decadent disco and infectious lust of 'Delirious', it's a delightful and flawless journey. She deserves to be a megastar the world over. (Andrew Trendell)

 Back at the end of May, the UK producer released what became the aural souvenir for many people's summer. In a daring attempt to break from the melancholic connotations of his namesake, Jamie XX pieced together all of the sounds he's been experimenting with over the past six years and delivered everything from ominous ballads to a dub reworking with Young Thug that ended becoming one of the best tracks of the year - good times.(Will Butler)

Of the many words used to describe Florence + The Machine, 'subtle' isn't usually among them. Within her third album though, as well as the compulsory soaring orchestras and anthemic hooks, lies a poignant sense of restraint. On How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, an overriding sense of humbleness has been enveloped into Welch's lyrics, nestled amongst the grand, sweeping sentiments. This is a beautiful but world-weary third offering, nostalgic, but rooted firmly in reality - a reality that Welch takes pains to accept and then move on from.(Alexandra Pollard)

On the precipice of becoming Meme-fodder, Grimes’ decision to fully commit the established abstract with the multi-persona masterpiece Art Angels is the best business and artistic decision of her career thus far. What the album represents is a step toward unsullied credibility as an pop musician and visionary. Art Angels is the Pensieve predicting the trajectory of Claire’s future maneuvers - colourful, brash and unapologetic pop music from now until forever. (Will Butler)

Adele's comeback story might have dominated the headlines this year, but Joanna Newsom left her fans waiting even longer for the follow-up to 2010's Have One On Me. She returned to the scene with very little fanfare, uploading the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed video for 'Sapokanikan', and her new album, Divers, shortly followed. It's an astounding, beautiful LP, which condenses Newsom's experimental ambitions into something more accessible - without ever sacrificing her artistic ideals. (Alexandra Pollard)

His debut album Total Strife Forever was released by Stolen Recordings and such was its success that big indie player XL Recordings offered Doyle a new deal and put out this second album which traverses steep musical. Doyle channels his influences which range from dancing at sketchy techno club nights to Brian Eno and Pet Shop Boys into something that’s distinctly his own. It’s powerful, carefully orchestrated, and vividly imaginative piece of work that will be handed down generations. (Cai Trefor)

With a wealth of projects under his belt and a strong sense of identity already solidified, 2015 was the perfect time for Vince to affirm himself as one the most talented rappers in the hip-hop sphere. In terms of sheer story telling, he paints incredibly vivid pictures of street life and social injustice, specifically about his home city of L.A. Tracks like ‘Senorita’ and ‘Lift Me Up’ surge with a raw energy lacking in a great deal of rap music this year. (James Moore)

Putting a nail in the paint-by-numbers indie-rock coffin that the UK has been grieving over since the mid-noughties, Gengahr takes from the more left-field sounds of US alt-rock and makes melodic, exciting and blissful music that is still quintessentially British. Their debut album was suited head-to-toe in instrumentally daring manoeuvres and retains a levity without drifting irreversibly into the ‘floaty’ axis - A Dream Outside is more than just a promising debut, it’s indicative of the immense musicianship that hasn’t been present in UK indie for a minute. (Will Butler)

Dripping with a sort of imagined nostalgia, Honeymoon still holds tightly to the themes with which Del Rey has always been so enamoured - Hollywood movies, jazz, beat poetry, and a heavily romanticised, all-consuming passivity. But to take this at face value is to miss the wry self-awareness that sometimes smurks beneath the surface. With its melancholic, wavering melodies and relentlessly meek lyrics, there is little in Honeymoon to win over sceptics. But, one suspects, that's just as Del Rey intended.(Alexandra Pollard)

Gravelled vocals and clap-trap riffs embody the heart of Hop Along. Tattered and weary from the constant mire of injustice and shittiness of an imperfect world obsessed with perfection, Painted Shut is the remedy and swansong for anyone who’s ever been anchored by constant worry and anxiety. Spanning a chance encounter with an abusive father figure to the feeling of having a microscopic impact on the world, Painted Shut channels these craters into something empowering and beautiful. (Will Butler)

 Mature and assured yet fresh and adventurous, Why Make Sense sees Hot Chip return to the purest elements of euphoric dance-pop with a carefree yet controlled abandon. Measured and magnificent, and dripping in a very modern romance.(Andrew Trendell)

 Modern Nature came after the tragic death of their drummer Jon Brookes last year. Overcoming tragedy they recruited Stephen Morris from New Order, Pete Salisbury from The Verve, and Gabriel Gurnsey from Factory Floor to drum on various tracks.

Despite the tragic circumstances, The Charlatans made Modern Nature one of the best albums of their career that’s as in tune with modern influences as the classics . According to Tim who spoke with Gigwise last month, the light on this album came from his son who was born just over two years ago.(Cai Trefor)

Read the rest of our albums of the year below


Photo: Artwork