2011 promised to be a fantastic year for music lovers with the return of Coldplay (giving shareholders at EMI a sigh of relief), a new album from we’re on hiatus, oh no we’re not, American rockers Foo Fighters, as well as new albums from previous NME heavyweights Kasabian and Florence and the Machine, fan favourites Elbow and albums from ‘the next big thing’ like Ed Sheeran. Yet somehow, for me at least, this year fell flat on its face. Here is my list of top five albums that were worth checking out from this year.
Adele – 21
General sexual crushes aside, 21 proved everything about Adele’s talent that 19 perhaps failed to do. With soulful vocals, heartbreak lyrics, fantastic production and a brilliant selection of songs that saw Adele move from ballads to putting her on spin on The Cure, this album had it all and it’s easy to see why it’s sold so many units this year.
Alex Clare – Lateness of the Hour
I’m not hot on dub step, or drum and bass, or any music you seemingly have to be completed wasted to tap your foot to. Alex Clare’s debut album however, had dub step moments littered throughout it but mixed nicely with soul, funk, dance and pop influences making it without a doubt, the most interesting and captivating listen for me in 2011.
Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
Humbug brought me around to the band I had previously loved to hate with its wonderfully raw bass sound that was reminiscent of old Queens of the Stone Age. On first listen, Suck It And See seemed to be a step in the wrong direction, but after copious listens it’s clear that this was the intelligent direction for the band, mixing the rawness of Humbug with the lyrical prowess of the previous albums and wrapping them around some gloriously poppy hooks. Great stuff.
Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
Blending perhaps Iron & Wine with Jose Gonzalez and the laidback feel of Newton Faulkner, with his debut album Ben Howard created a beautiful summer album of soon-to-be folk classics. Every song is brilliant in its own right and there is no reason why Ben Howard can’t span a career as wide as Bob Dylan’s if this is anything to go by.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago skyrocketed Bon Iver to the top, making him a poster boy for the nu-folk invasion of British music and despite his non-Bon Iver offerings being weak at best, the pressure was on for his follow up album. This second album didn’t disappoint, seeing Bon Iver return bigger, more innovative and emotional than ever with a selection of grandiose multi-textured songs that have seen Bon Iver break further into the mainstream.