Making their debut in 2010 with the equally melodic (and slightly mental) Man Alive, the Manchester quartet knocked it out of the park with their followup. Arc continues the trend of electronic, yet strangely organic backdrops and a typically fast-paced post-apocalyptic contribution from frontman Jonathan Higgs. It’s schizophrenic and claustrophobic like a box full of nettles, but it flaunts this relentlessly and shows absolutely no shame. Featuring an eclectic array of tracks focusing on topics like loneliness, doomsdays and blinded policemen, Arc takes my accolade for album of the year.
2. Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
3. Los Campesinos! - No Blues
4. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Did anyone see this coming? The National’s prior work High Violet was (deservingly) given the highest of praises by many a publication a few years back, and it’s forgivable to assume that was the pinnacle of the band’s achievement. But then this happened. Trouble Will Find Me is… well, perhaps “better” is too strong a word, but it’s certainly no worse than their previous work, which in the context of The National is high praise indeed. A personal highlight is This is the Last Time, a brooding, emotional steam train that only builds as it develops. Alongside the powerhouse arena-worthy tracks like Demons and Sea of Love, this album is nothing short of stunning.
5. Little Green Cars - Absolute Zero
6. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
7. London Grammar - If You Wait
8. Foals - Holy Fire
Spilling onto the internet in the form of an intriguing cipher on the band’s website, the third album by Oxford math-rockers Foals was an interesting one. Now fully moved on from the sound that brought them initial attention with Antidotes, Holy Fire feels like a much more solid, flowing piece of work than their debut. After six years of deliberation, it won over both newcomers and diehard fans when it dropped this year.
9. Lorde - Pure Heroine
If you switch on the radio right now, you’ll probably hear something by Miss Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor, the 17-year-old Kiwi songstress whose frankly incredible single Royals caught the world by surprise earlier this year. Following the fantastic The Love Club EP was always going to be difficult, and the mixed reception that Pure Heroine attracted was mostly down to that. Nonetheless, some very crafty songwriting is evident on the record. A solid debut.
10. The 1975 - The 1975
Rounding off the list is a newcomer, who burst onto the scene with toe-tapping indie-rock anthem Chocolate which took the UK by storm when it emerged at the very start of the year. Packed with single-worthy tracks (and thankfully dropping at least most of the pretentiousness that plagued earlier extended plays) it’s a classy example of indie-pop done well, with quirky like-it-or-loathe-it vocals.
10. The 1975 - The 1975