10. WU LYF - Go Tell Fire to the Mountain [LYF]
Manchester boys World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation (aka WU LYF) served up an admirable debut LP of anthemic, scraggly indie-rock where thinly layered crescendos and fuzzy guitars, coupled with echos of laddish Britpop snarl, brought to mind the mongrel child of The Libertines and Animal Collective.
Also receives the award for: Best band name.
9. Bluejuice - Company [Dew Process]
Stickin' it to the haters, the pranksters have once again exceeded expectations; writing an album of gloriously kitsch piano-driven modern pop that pays homage to everyone and everything, from Billy Joel and Phil Collins to Spoon, LCD Soundsystem, '80s synth and classic motown harmonies. Easily listenable and sensationaly enjoyable from start to finish, no album has so easily put a smile on my face this year.
"Man, Bluejuice is soooo overrated, they're, like, such a Triple j band."
Cheer up dickhead, and have some fun.
Also receives the award for: Best video (Act Yr Age).
8. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? [Columbia]
Justin Young's charmingly hypnotic vocals are satiating on their own. That they tower over endearingly catchy four-chord melodies makes you want to jump around like you were watching The Dickies back in '82. Nothing is more refreshing than the complete sincerity and confidence of the group's simple lyricism, highlighted by the daydream love song Norgaard.
Also receives the award for: Best lyrics (Norgaard).
7. The Horrors - Skying [XL]
The Horrors' transmogrification continues, seeing the former goth-punkers continue (vaguely) down the shoegaze path of 2009's Primary Colours. This time around they dabble in a little ambience, a smattering of dream pop, a healthy peppering of meandering psychedelia, and dress it all up synth-laden guitar pop. It sounds confusing, I know. But it wouldn't be The Horrors if it wasn't.
Also receives the award for: Most appropriate album title.
6. Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys! [Fiction/Polydor]
Understated and self-effacing, Build a Rocket Boys! is a warm, gorgeous album that is so modest in its brilliance that you have to listen to it over and over again just to remind yourself that yes, it is that good.
Also receives the award for: Most attractive album cover.
5. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light [Interscope]
Sure, it's no Dear Science, but Nine Types of Light shouldn't disappoint most TV on the Radio fans. True to form, the Brooklynites oscillate from brooding, dub-tinged soul, to blasting, jazz-coated punk numbers like Repetition, Caffeinated Consciousness and the elevating opener Second Song.
Also receives the award for: Best live performance (at Melbourne's Harvest Festival).
4. Jay-Z/Kanye West - Watch the Throne [Def Jam]
Watch the Throne is not an album that you have to understand or 'relate to', to enjoy. Flawless production, big beats and some very, very expensive sampling, it far surpasses the wet dreams of even the biggest Jay-Z/Kanye fans. It's Jay-Z. And Kanye. What were you expecting? Stop struggling, turn it up, and enjoy.
Also receives the award for: Best songs for singing by middle class white boys from Canberra (Illest Motherfucker Alive, Niggas in Paris and That's My Bitch, par example).
3. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake [Island/Vagrant]
Rounding out a stellar year for the Brits, Britain's first lady of rock delivered a politically-minded state of the nation that initially alienated some fans, but brought them back soon enough with its pure musical brilliance. Branded as the first great 'war' album, PJ pulls off a rich, poignant masterpiece unlike anything she, or anyone else for that matter, has created before.
Also receives the award for: Most deserving award-winner (Mercury Music Prize).
2. The Kills - Blood Pressures [Domino Records] PICTURED
Blood Pressures is enjoyable enough as a grungy, punky, lo-fi blues-rock album, but its place in my number two is in large part due to the presence of, by far and away, my favourite track of 2011 - the beautiful, heart-wrenching, spine-tingling The Last Goodbye. Save this one for the big break-up. You'll need it.
Also receives the award for: Best ping-pong ball sample (Heart is a Beating Drum).
1. Fucked Up - David Comes to Life [Matador]
David Comes to Life is a testament to what a band can achieve when it writes and performs without any boundaries. A true magnum opus, David Comes to Life churns out 18 tracks across four 'Acts', following the factory drone David as he meets, falls in love with, and (possibly) kills his soul mate. Deep, complex and moving, the Toronto hardcore seven-piece have delivered a concept album that may well go down as one of the most original, adventurous and accomplished rock productions of the decade. Despite the length, there is no filler on DCTL. Each rich, messy song is layered upon the next, and the album snowballs into a rollicking, dense mass that's difficult to escape. That a band like Fucked Up committed so whole-heartedly to an album like this is admirable, yet unsurprising. Their achievement in pulling it off is almost without comparison.
Also receives the award for: Most ambitious release.