Reiterating just how much good music I heard in 2012, I’ve decided to expand my usual end-of-year Best Albums list from a Top 30 to a Top 40 to include more of the albums that I’ve heard and enjoyed this year.
Obviously this list only includes full albums that I’ve heard.
#40: Cranberries – Roses
I’m always torn when a favourite from the 90s announces the release of a new album, especially when more than ten years have passed since their last record came out. Not because I know they likely won’t deliver but because I feel like they’re setting themselves up for failure. Roses is a decent record that satisfies the curious yet nostalgia that one might feel for a band from the golden 90s.
¡Uno! offers a power-pop sound that shows the band at its least serious it’s been in almost a decade.
Even still, there’s the thought that in this post-AI world, you can take the idiot out of America, but you can’t take the American out of the idiot.
What ultimately makes this album work is that it isn’t Amy attempting to do something that may or may not work out. She’s created a reliable style and presentation of herself with her musical influences and has consistently stayed true to that sound.
#32: Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
As a whole, the record is lyrically reluctant yet musically eager. Regina accepts, with hesitation, the inevitability of aging and moving on. What We Saw From The Cheap Seats is a playfully troublesome collection of lyrics that is simply an exploration of curiosity.
The Origin Of Love is an album that might create a rift between those who were drawn to Mika’s earlier songs and those who are likely to latch on to him now. While he hasn’t fully mastered the ability to capture both sides on the album, he does do a good job mixing many different styles of pop, dance and electronic together into a record of actual good pop music.
The songs on here are made to be performed, rather than be mere album filler. Most of the tracks can be easily imagined into a standard OLP setlist as neither would stand out as being a departure to their sound.
Sugaring Season is a reflective album that eases through with each song showing that Beth is true to the words she sings. It’s simplicity is only on a surface level while underneath the details in the underlying instruments and lyrics show that there’s more to Beth than meets the ear.
Harmony is a nice album in that it confirms Serena’s capabilities as someone who can partake in a wide range on the musical spectrum. She’s choosing not to firmly plant herself into a single area and be limited by genre labels.
Vows is a cohesive collection of songs without sounding redundant or repetitive. It is Kimbra’s beginning and if the cards are played just right, it could be the introduction to someone that everyone will know of.
Everything you might have known about Ellie Goulding can be completely erased from your memory as you start over again. What was once rainbows and unicorns is now a black skirt with a cocktail in one hand and a microphone in the other.
The North is a house party where nearly everyone except the host is a stranger to you, with a few drama queens, several intermediaries and a bunch of separate cliques but everyone is having too good a time to be tense.
Roman Reloaded is purely a mixed-up record with two sides of Nicki showing their heads. Neatly divided into two halves, the first consisting of her hip-hop side while the second is her newly minted electro-influenced dance/pop persona.
#10: Soundtrack – The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond
There are few movie soundtracks that can have a lengthy shelf-life rather than floundering into a quick irrelevance but The Hunger Games may be amongst them. The Hunger Games soundtrack could very well end up breathing new life into the concept of the movie soundtrack with its carefully selected group of artists and well-crafted songs that actually fit the movie.
Ed Sheeran is honest with his vocals and how he comes off as a writer, bringing with his recordings a complete and satisfying album of songs that sound true to his heart and open up to what could be one of England’s best newcomers.
Some Nights is the type of album for the heavy thinker, perhaps the reckless mind, to ponder over. With bouncy melodies masking the darker thoughts and memories, fun. provides a bittersweet musical experience to remind us that we all have moments we would change, want to relive or things we think we want to achieve, even if we never do anything about it.
#4: Whitehorse – The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss
The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss has the sound of a romanticized harmony from a pair who, when started, don’t look back. Likely made to supplement their live act, they once again prove they are on to something with this new collaborative project.
channel ORANGE has loneliness that is not in the form of a broken relationship or a breakup but rather of that made apparent through the imagery that both the lyrics and the music convey – a self-appointed loneliness. The way in which the themes are displayed are akin to standing in the middle of a crowded cocktail bar with not a single person to talk to.
On Brandi Carlile‘s fourth album Bear Creek, she completely changes direction from the sound of her previous records. Rather than trying to recreate that epic pop/rock sound that occupied much of those albums, she instead focuses on nostalgia as she pulls at the familiar feeling of the good old down-home.
Brandi has succeeded in making an album that doesn’t succumb to those outside wishes of earning a radio hit or winning mainstream success in a climate where producers trump musicians. Bear Creek is the most consistent album in her discography thus far. Where her previous albums have had their ups and downs, Bear Creek is all one high point. It’s the album Brandi was made to create.