After twelve months of listening to every key release (and a few weeks of intense stereo-focused arguments), Gigwise has compiled our annual 50 Best Albums Of The Year.
Read 20-11 below including some agreeably weird folk, a Grime veteran and the deserved winner of the Mercury Prize.
Compiled by Andy Morris, Andrew Trendell, Ed Keeble, Alexandra Pollard and Elliot Mitchell.
"It comes as no surprise to discover that Warpaint’s second album was written by 'just jamming and freeflowing onstage.; It meanders and wobbles in experimental dream pop, and the mumbled lyrics feel as though they’re being created on the spot. What could easily be cited as criticisms though, somehow become the things that make the album so mesmerising." (AP)
"Nikki Nack once again revels in playing with vocal and instrumental layering – without ever becoming gimmicky. Some of its lyrics, which are wrapped around sharp, worldbeat instrumentals, are so bizarre it seems as though they were written purely for how they sound and feel rolling off the tongue: “And you say old Molly Hare, whatcha doin’ there, jump back jack, Daddy shot a bear, woohaw!” (AP)
As far as rappers go there is noone quite like good old William. He is quite possibly the only one to maintain both a mainstream and underground career without letting one drag the other down. Snakes and Ladders is his flip flop back into grime town and boy is it good. Riddled with insecurity and self analysis, it was scrapped the first time around to be built from the ground up. The result is a finely tuned masterpiece that is self-aware in sound and message. (EK)
No, it isn't The Holy Bible part II, nor was it ever going to be. Manic Street Preachers have never made the same album twice, and as a result their eclecticism and sheer range of ground and sounds covered has often been overlooked. But what you'll find here is a band drawing across a wide and vibrant palette of sounds, and stamping their own inimitable character all over it.
2014 is the year that the Manics celebrate the 20th anniversary of their seminal Holy Bible - a record that would define most bands for the rest of their days, and a landmark that would consume them. However, that seems like a footnote to the Manics in 2014 - if a little irrelevant to the plot. Futurology howls defiance in the face of a culture of touring pantomime rock giants. Here are a band still inventing, still challenging themselves, still refusing to tread any path but their own - ultimately, it's proof that the Manics still matter, and always will. (AT)
Total Strife Forever didn't feel like a debut record. Instead, it's experimental nature made us feel like we'd known William Doyle for years, as he imparted his personality onto leftfield electronic groundings. Heart-racing and raw in parts, subdued and intricate in others, East India Youth crafted a journey with this record, a viable indicator of the direction electronic music will take in the future. (EM)
The lo-fi desert rock of Ultraviolence came as something of a shock to those who were fans of the clean trip-hop of Born To Die – from the abrupt, radio unfriendly tempo change of ‘West Coast’ to the scuzzy Arabic bridge of ‘Brooklyn Baby . If you take the album’s passive femininity to be firmly sardonic, it’s a deeply satisfying follow-up. (AP)
“The perfect break-up record from the black-clad witch from Sweden, with all of her anguish translated into a fully-realised, three-dimensional realm of sound and poetry, using her experiences of bad romance as a crutch to walk into an age of maturity and womanhood.
You can feel your heart at the back of your throat as she mourns her way through album centrepieces 'Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone' and the title track - showcasing what is genuinely an artist in her prime: raw, real and fearless.” (AT)
Finding an album in this day and age that doesn't take itself to seriously is practically impossible. It's Album Time however is that rare gem, a record with its toungue planted firmly in its cheek, but not willing to compromise. The result is an eccentric and original sound that is incredibly danceable and atmospheric. Quite simply a genre defining masterpiece. (EK)
After *that* Letterman performance and the strength of 'Seasons (Waiting On You' as a lead single, Future Islands had a lot to live up to on their fourth album. Luckily, Singles was a complete belter of a record, an effortlessly impassioned piece of work that brought together upbeat melody with raw emotional outpour, Samuel T Herring's signature vocals humanising electronic instrumental foundations. (EM)
This Mercury stealing album is a strange one. It's a richly woven tapestry that contains elements of hip hop, poetry, rock, gospel, electronica, soul and much more, all crammed into songs that the mind struggles to get its head around. Once your ears have adjusted however, it becomes clear just how important and forward thinking it really is. In a way it represents the multiculturalism of the UK in its rich eclecticism and that is something that should be celebrated. (EK)
Read the rest of our albums of the year countdown below