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 10-2 below including some Swedish experimental maniacs, Interpol's first album as a trio and one of the most delayed rap albums of recent memory.
Compiled by Andy Morris, Andrew Trendell, Ed Keeble, Alexandra Pollard and Elliot Mitchell.
"Certainly one of the most original releases of the year, Commune draws on a wealth of influences from the worlds of tribal, psychedelic, drone, prog and folk music to form a trance-inducing miasma of sound. Rather than using said genres as an affectation or to appear fashionable, Commune is free of any goal except art. It's smorgasbord of mood pieces - the soundtrack to a ritual where the one thing that's being worshipped is music, rather than idols or the dollar." (AT)
"The influences of Hozier’s Irish heritage are unmistakable in his startlingly accomplished debut – the fervent and bitter beauty of ‘Take Me To Church’ can only have come from a country whose roots are inextricably tied to religious conflict. There’s far more to talk about beyond track one though, and the album also mixes Southern soul and hints of playful, oldschool blues into its palette." (AP)
"Perhaps one of the most surprising additions to this list, no-one expected Azealia Banks' long awaited LP to ever actually appear, let alone for it to be one of this year's strongest hip hop releases. Testifying the hype that surrounded her when she first emerged, the record no doubt lived up to the bar she had set herself, polarising approachable, club ready hits with gritty, filthy lyrical craft." (EM)
"Stay Gold finally embraces with open arms the Americana undertones that lingered within First Aid Kit’s previous two offerings – this time with the expertly-judged help of a 13-piece orchestra, who manage never to overshadow the rich harmonies that made the pair famous. It’s a vivid and self-assured album, and its lyrics dwell in unaffected poignancy." (AP)
"As if more proof were needed, Lazaretto confirms once and for all that Jack White is not a man tied down by the conventions of genre. From the dense rock of ‘Lazaretto’ and ‘That Black Bat Licorice’ to the rich country ramblings of ‘Just One Drink’ and ‘Alone In My Home’, shut everything down before the chronic misstep that is the album’s final track, and you’ve got a near perfect album." (AP)
"The appetite for Killer Mike and El-P's second round of in your face lyricism was at an all time high prior to release, aided by the preview of a superb Zack De La Rocha collaboration. When it dropped this autumn it went on to pass all expectations, a rowdy testament to the future of rap music. It's one part punk, one part hip-hop and unlike any rap album you're heard before."(EK)
"'It's just a different chemistry,' said Interpol frontman Paul Banks in an interview with Gigwise, reflecting on the very different make-up of Interpol in 2014 following the departure of Carlos D. 'There's three atoms in a different molecule and maybe that has an even stronger bond - a more excitable, radioactive state.' El Pintor is certainly the band's most direct body of work since 2004's Antics. Upfront, and with the perfect balance between pop, post-punk, poetry and cinematic experimentation, it's the sum of all that's great about the New York band. But, in losing a member and shedding a layer, we're now closer to 'the heart' of Interpol. Not only one of the albums of the year, but one of the best of their career." (AT)
"Playing to our inner nostalgic with its nods to Springsteen and Dylan, but equally filled with modern, forward thinking elements, Lost In The Dream is without doubt The War on Drugs' finest work to date. Taking the personality that resonated from their earlier work and infusing it with soaring, anthemic elements, it felt like this was the album the group had been working towards their entire career." (EM)
"How often have you bought a dance record based on a single only for the rest to be a disappointment? Caribou's Our Love is the exception. Naturally you start with 'Can’t Do Without You' - but the album offers so much more. This is very human-sounding electronica: it’s not needlessly estoeric but equally unafraid of tackling more complicated issues than your average dance record ('Your Love Will Set You Free’ is remarkably insightful on relationships). A proper hands in the air, tears in your eyes experience." (AM)
Read the rest of our albums of the year countdown below