Best of 2012


It’s pretty straightforward, really: if it was out this year, an album, and totally brilliant, it was eligible. Check out our top LPs of 2012 and the rest of the best, below.


The top

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    Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE (Explicit Version)
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    Release Name
    channel ORANGE
    Release Date
    (2012)
    Artist Name
    by Frank Ocean
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    $7.99
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    Tyler, The Creator might have hogged the limelight in 2011, but it was his Odd Future-compandre Frank Ocean who made the biggest, er, splash in 2012. From the Stevie Wonder-esque swing of "Sweet Life" to the string-laden, tear-stained R&B of "Bad Religion", via an almighty, nine-minute-plus, digital-funk opus named "Pyramids", Channel Orange confirmed what mixtape Ultra/Nostalgia implied: Frank Ocean is one of the finest songwriting talents of our times.

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    Grimes - Visions
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    Visions
    Release Date
    (2012)
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    by Grimes
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    Having sailed live chickens, 20 pounds of potatoes, a sewing machine and her boyfriend down the Mississippi on a homemade houseboat, we’re not surprised that Claire Boucher wasn’t fazed by the challenge of topping her acclaimed last long-player, Halfaxa. Visions showcased Grimes’ pioneering spirit, and subsequently helped the 22-year-old subvert the mainstream with a feast of compelling, avant garde, electronic treats, rooted in K-pop, IDM and R&B.

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    Django Django - Django Django
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    Django Django
    Release Date
    (2012)
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    by Django Django
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    When we asked Django Django to sum up their sound, the best they could muster was, “Tramp-rock mixed with booze, broads and barbershop.” Honestly lads, what about the 8-bit synth-shuffle of "Zumm Zumm"? Or the electro-tinged souk-rock of "Skies Over Cairo"? And what about "Life’s A Beach", which sounds like some wonderful, jangle-laden hybrid of The Beta Band and Franz Ferdinand?! Still, with songs this strong who needs shameless self-promotion?

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    Birdy - Birdy
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    Birdy
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Birdy
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    A pianist since the age of six, Jasmine "Birdy" Van Bogaerde won a record deal six years later, after beating 10,000 other under-18s to top prize in the UK Open Mic competition. Her eponymous debut showcases a predilection for melancholic indie, offering up re-workings of tracks by The xx, Cherry Ghost, Fleet Foxes and The National. But most intriguing of all is the self-penned "Without A Word", which showed the world she had much more to offer than an impeccable record collection.

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    John Talabot - Fin
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    Fin
    Release Date
    (2012)
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    by John Talabot
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    Barcelona-based, publicity-shy, dance producer John Talabot stepped out of the shadows in January and delivered 11-tracks of, what was ostensibly, hands-aloft house music, but actually concealed a brilliantly brooding heart. The subsequent comparisons that he received to Caribou and Pantha Du Prince have probably blown his cover for good, but in our books that’s no bad thing. Because on the strength of this debut, we’re hoping Fin is just the beginning.

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    Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city
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    good kid, m.A.A.d city
    Release Date
    (2012)
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    by Kendrick Lamar
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    Following in the footsteps of forbearers Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Rick Ross, this year Kendrick Lamar became the latest of Dr Dre’s protégés to deliver the goods. Thematically, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City plundered the light and shade of his upbringing on the streets of Compton, and those extremes were mirrored in the music. From the laid-back swing of "Money Trees", to the murky, T-Minus-produced "Swimming Pools (Drank)" – where the 25 year old’s rapid-fire flow was redolent of vintage André 3000 – it was astonishing listening.

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    Grizzly Bear - Shields
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    Shields
    Release Date
    (2012)
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    by Grizzly Bear
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    On paper, even attempting to match the genius of Veckatimest looked like an unsurmountable task. Happily, Grizzly Bear made light work of it on their magnificent fourth album. Whether they were showcasing those trademark tricksy time-signatures on "Sleeping Ute", their tumbling guitar licks on "Half Gate" or an aptitude for beatific piano-pop on "A Simple Answer", on Shields the Brooklyn boys delivered melody in spades.

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    Bright Light Bright Light - Make Me Believe in Hope
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    Release Name
    Make Me Believe in Hope
    Release Date
    (2012)
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    by Bright Light Bright Light
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    Some people might think it un-cool to reference Robin S or Crystal Waters, but that simply makes Rod Thomas’ up-to-the-minute take on ‘90s music invigorating by default. “Waiting For The Feeling” is a direct homage to house diva Alison Limerick, while “Immature” and “Grace” borrow production elements from vintage Björk. Add collaborations with Allison Pierce and Del Marquis of Scissor Sisters, plus an alluring contrast of euphoric riffs and ineffable melancholy, and you have the most exciting pop breakthrough of the year so far.

Bubbling under


The rest of the best...