10. Menomena – Mines [Barsuk]
Mines achieves what Grizzly Bear’s third album, Veckatimest, did. The at times alien-like and alienating experimental sounds are tempered with esoteric pop, exemplified by the striking melodies and gospel theme.
9. Angus & Julia Stone – Down the Way [EMI]
It’s not a flawless album but the soft melodies and the siblings’ sweet vocals are intricately and considerately layered with strings or other instruments like mellotron.
8. The National – High Violet [4AD]
These veterans of music have learnt over time what works and what doesn’t. Once again Matt Berninger’s morose vocals are effortlessly moulded with poetic lyricism and clever instrumental arrangements. If you ever get a chance to see them live, don’t hesitate. They will make you cry.
7. Beach House – Teen Dream [Sub Pop]
I’ve often in the past found this dream pop band to be a bit samey. Teen Dream, however, is a lot more playful. According to Beach House this album is perfect to listen to whilst entangled with a lover. That’s perfect for those whose Portishead albums are a little worse for wear.
6. Glasser – Ring [True Panther]
If you wanted to make a stop motion video of an origami swan being folded with a strobe light on, you might use a song from this album. Initially singing into her laptop, Glasser later replaced computer stock sounds with marimbas, chimes, saxophone, koto and heavy drums and synthesizers.
5. Robyn – Body Talk [Konichiwa]
Body Talk was released as three EPs to, finally, produce a whole album. All three EPs operate as dance anthems. You’ll likely hear many of the songs from Body Talk throughout the next year. It’s been a fun project to watch unfold!
4. Kelis – Flesh Tone [Interscope]
Flesh Tone (produced by the likes of Burns and Boys Noize) unveils Kelis as a vibrant electro dance god. This is rare house music where you can enthusiastically sing along while jumping and jiving.
3. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz [Asthmatic Kitty]
Stevens finally cut the crap and released some new music, criticising his own insistence on being innovative. The Age of Adz showcases Stevens at his most relaxed and honest.
2. Groove Armada – Black Light [Cooking Vinyl]
It’s a surprise but this gritty album already feels like a classic; the songs operating often somehow as both retro chill out and disco dance.
1. Sia – We are Born [Monkey Puzzle]
The ARIAs for Best Pop Release and Best Independent Release are well deserved. Though cute, bouncy and involving, Sia’s music carries a beautiful sad undertone with its upbeat drive. It is remarkable how different but equally as good this album is compared with 2004’s Colour the Small One.