Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2011: Albums

While we’ve had to concede that the singles chart is now the realm of piss-weak Rihannatastic cannibalised McPop, at least the album world has yet to be infected to the same extent. Notable omissions from this year’s final ten include Alice Gold, Tim Wheeler & Emmy The Great, Bright Eyes and Thirteen Senses, but let’s turn our attentions to those that did make the cut...

10. Neon Trees - Habits
Opening the list are Utah candyfloss rockers Neon Trees, with an album originally released Stateside way back in March 2010. This year saw its eventual arrival in Blighty, and it proved to be worth the wait. Habits was laden with huge pop melodies and addictive punk riffs, blended together seamlessly for a defined, cohesive and hugely enjoyable collection.
Key Track: Animal

9. Ed Sheeran - +
A rather lacklustre mish-mash of his EPs it may have been on paper, but the quality of Ed Sheeran’s debut was otherwise hard to contest. The peculiar marriage of timorous acoustic ballads and cocky, head-turning semi-rap somehow worked exceptionally well, and deservedly pushed a genuinely remarkable new talent firmly into the mainstream.
Key Track: Drunk

8. Melanie C - The Sea
While Melanie C’s last three albums have been solid, unified bodies of work, The Sea is a return to the pleasing patchwork quality of Northern Star, jumping from lush ballads to fiery girl-rawk to demi-electro thumpers and back again. Whether she’ll ever repeat the success of her debut is up to the public, but The Sea proves the material itself is more than capable.
Key Track: Burn

7. Friendly Fires - Pala
A vigorous, funk-laden and charismatic follow-up to their exceptional debut, Pala was a smart and effective next move for Friendly Fires. Brazilian beats, swooning house rhythms and spellbinding vocals, all capped with a keen injection of Britishness and even a slight indie campness, it’s hard to think of another band better equipped for a Coldplay-esque stadium transition.
Key Track: Chimes

6. Nicola Roberts - Cinderella’s Eyes
A confident, intelligent and stylish debut from perhaps the least likely member of Girls Aloud. But that was part of the beauty of Cinderella’s Eyes – it was a window into a mysterious and misunderstood individual, not only unveiling her character but doing so with a musicality and an imaginative, earnest quality her band have yet to achieve, either solo or as a unit.
Key Track: Yo-Yo

5. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
Touted as 2011’s big hope by all and sundry this time a year ago, it was fortunate that The Vaccines had the talent to live up to the hype. What Did You Expect From The Vaccines made its mark with certainty – it was youthful, it was boisterous and it was addictive; an album which, in the most positive, complimentary way, left us wanting much, much more.
Key Track: Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)

And here’s where it all gets a bit difficult. While 2011 has provided us with some rather impressive albums, there hasn’t been one particular standout offering, as has been the case in previous years. So from here on in, let’s call it a four-way tie for the top spot...

Guillemots - Walk The River
While the superb solo effort from frontman Fyfe Dangerfield was crowned our best album of 2010, the Guillemots as a band don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to albums. Walk The River, however, finally broke the curse, stealthily flitting between dark, introspective moments and huge give-away-the-farm indie-pop magnificence.
Key Track: The Basket

Miles Kane - Colour of the Trap
The beguiling, Sixties-infused indie of lead track Rearrange has already gotten the bronze medal as far as the Singles of 2011 are concerned, so it’s hardly a surprise to see Colour of the Trap taking some acclaim as well. Gloriously unpretentious yet effortlessly cool; current yet classic; varied yet consistent. Best Male at the 2012 Brit Awards, please.
Key Track: Rearrange

Little Jackie - Made For TV
An album that was sprung on us from out of nowhere, the follow-up to 2008’s exceptional The Stoop arrived in August with little warning. But Made For TV proved to be the best kind of surprise. Tongue-in-cheek social commentary executed with a breezy charm and an unrivalled knack for a captivating hook – essentially, everything we’ve come to love about Little Jackie.
Key Track: Take Back the World

CocknBullKid - Adulthood
Initially, Adulthood felt like a nice stop-gap while we wait for VV Brown to make good on her second album, but repeated listens revealed a unique magnetism, soulful but playful, and worthy of far greater attention than it actually received. Easily one of 2011’s best new artists, long may the pleasurable, Londoncentric charm of CocknBullKid reign.
Key Track: Asthma Attack

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