Du Blonde, the new moniker of Beth Jeans Houghton, deserved far more attention than she received this year. Perhaps it's because no-one quite knows where to pigeon-hole her. Welcome Back To Milk dips its toes into almost every genre imaginable - she bursts into the lads' clubs of guitar rock and glam-metal dressed in a fur coat and a merkin, before swerving into moving, melancholic territory with the likes of 'Hunter'. It's a surprising and arresting LP. (Alexandra Pollard)
With a career spanning nigh on 15 years and a catalogue of seven studio albums, the band have weaved their own tapestry to portray a world of murder, suicide, love, war, brotherhood, betrayal, all told through the prism of folklore, history, literature, poetry and beyond. They're much more than a band - they're an adventure in fiction. On album No.7, we explore only more magnificent territory. It showcases all that's great about this band: never twee, but always using these idiosyncrasies as a vehicle for a universal truth. On What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, what we have a real rarity: one of the most original acts of their generation, singing of love, loss and freedom in the fullest of voice, like no one else could. (Andrew Trendell)
Green Lanes is the second album by Veronica Falls’ James Hoare and Mazes’ Jack Cooper. It’s the closest thing we have to the elegance and catchiness of great jangly '60s songwriters like The Beach Boys, The Kinks and The Beatles that’s made an impact on the radio this year. The soft melodies and clean tone on their guitars combine with their lush harmonies to make one of the most enjoyable and easy listening albums of the year.(Cai Trefor)
If 2013’s debut Doris was Earl’s tentative toe dip into the musical limelight, I Don’t Like Shit was a fully-fledged nose dive. Sonically sludgy and soaked in brooding atmosphere, nine of the record’s ten tracks are produced by Earl himself, introducing listeners to his world of swarming vices, looming doubt and a confident leap into adulthood. As lyrically on point as he’s always been, Earl does away with the throwaway wordplay and sticks strictly to lines that carry weight and a fresh sense of clarity. (James Moore)
You should never judge a book by its cover; a similar rule should be applied to band names. In the case of the Connecticut emo battalion stylized TWIABP, their pretentious title shouldn’t distract from the sheer emotive magnitude of their third full length release. Uplifting and inspirational hardcore music that could only come from a band seven members strong. Harmlessness is intimate and sincere as often as it is willing to character assassinate. (Will Butler)
"Our love was my womb," pines Bjork on new album Vulnicura's centre-piece, 'Black Lake'. Bjork has always sought to map her inner workings and movements onto the world around her - be it a womb, a mountain or a skyscraper. It is her harnessing and curation of the elements, both physical and metaphysical, that makes her an artist like no other. Translating the turmoil of her separation from long-term partner and artist Matthew Barney into a painting with the world around her - making Vulnicura an orchestral, melodic journey through her psyche, rather than just your standard verse-chorus-verse affair. She is still heaven's gift to the world. (Andrew Trendell)
"I don't want to be all doom and gloom," Hackman told Gigwise earlier this year. She's not - far from it - but there's a dark, sometimes sinister edge to the beauty of her music. "Lay on your back, breathe it in," she sings on 'Monday Afternoon', "the sickly sweet of my rotting skin."
It's an album that takes the sweetness of its themes - of love and lust and family - and lets it ferment: "Retching through my skin / Coughing up love that tastes like spring." (Alexandra Pollard)
After trudging through the proving grounds with album one and two, Everything Everything have continually showcased their ability and trajectory to become the benchmark for creative indie in the UK. Get To Heaven is a wild and often incomprehensible ride through a myriad of atmospheres and realms. What’s consistent throughout is the levity of frontman Jonathan Higgs’ vocals, lyrics and continually impressive songwriting - their best work to date. (Will Butler)
This is one seriously pissed off album. Williamson’s rage is witty though, and you can’t help but laugh as he takes a swipe at Blur whose drummer’s a ‘fucking tory’ or when he slams Miliband for being a "chirping cunt (who) obviously wants the country in tatters".
It’s a grainy, uncomfortable analysis of British life that doesn’t play up to any fictional vision of how things should be. (Cai Trefor)
In 20 years of making music, The Mountain Goats have more or less stayed true to their convictions. John Darnielle takes a few years to find out what needs reflecting on and fuses the emotional with the witty in his songwriting lab with consistently excellent results. Beat The Champ is no exception. (Will Butler)
Read the rest of our albums of the year below