YEAR IN REVIEW: Albums of 2011: 40-31

40. WU LYF – GO TELL FIRE TO THE MOUNTAIN
WU LYF remained an enigma among the public and music press alike for a while. They wouldn’t participate in interviews, and stayed obscured during their live shows. As a result, not many people knew what to expect from debut LP Go Tell Fire To the Mountain. The result is an album that is soaked in post-rock sensibilities and Foals-esque rhythms. The lead vocals are definitely an acquired taste, but grow on you with roaring, mostly unintelligible lyrics throughout. The atmosphere of the album is really unique.
DOWNLOAD: Summas Bliss
39. GIL SCOTT-HERON & JAMIE XX – WE’RE NEW HERE
Jamie xx’s reworking of the late-great Gil Scott Heron’s 2010 album I’m Still Here sounded like a strange prospect at first. The two styles felt like they would clash together and sound horrendous a la Lou Reed and Metallica, but instead it created a strange, dark piece that built on the foundations that Scott-Heron built, and put xx’s signature sound over the top of it. Jamie xx is quickly becoming the go-to guy for dub-influenced remixes, and We’re New Here is an excellent display of his skill.
DOWNLOAD: Ur Soul and Mine
38. BLOOD ORANGE – COASTAL GROOVES
Dev Hynes has had quite a prolific career thus far. After the demise of Test Icicles, he kept himself busy under the moniker of Lightspeed Champion, 2 albums later he recorded an album under the pseudonym of Blood Orange. Coastal Grooves is a sun-soaked, stripped down affair which sparkles with electronic drum samples and sensual rhythms which reflect Dev’s delivery. Clever wordplay and sincere vocals make this one of the best albums of 2011.
DOWNLOAD: The Complete Knock
37. LAURA MARLING – A CREATURE I DON’T KNOW
Laura Marling has always been known for being wise beyond her years, with her song-writing reflecting that of someone much older than in their early twenties, and A Creature I Don’t Know reflects that statement. Her third album feels like, as is the case with most of 2011’s best albums, a record that is so well-realised and her most accomplished work to date. It’s one of the best displays of sincere, ear-pleasing UK folk music that 2011 has seen.
DOWNLOAD: My Friends
36. GHOSTPOET – PEANUT BUTTER BLUES & MELANCHOLY JAM
Ghostpoet’s debut felt like a refreshing change in the UK music scene when it released. Although it was primarily a hip-hop album, it showed many different musical shades, from James Blake-esque Post-Dubstep to rock-influenced finishing track Liiines. Ghostpoet’s honest lyricism depicted life living in dreary old England to a tee and his slurred vocal delivery fits the mood of the album perfectly.
DOWNLOAD: Liiines
35. KANYE WEST & JAY-Z – WATCH THE THRONE
When two entities such as Kanye West and Jay-Z decide to do a whole album together, with the help of Frank Ocean and Beyonce, to name a few, it should never be taken lightly. Although it wasn’t the best hip-hop album of 2011, it still had a lot of solid songs on it. Opening track No Church in the Wild still has one of the most alluring beats of the year, thanks in part to Frank Ocean. That shit cray.
DOWNLOAD: No Church in the Wild
34. REAL ESTATE – DAYS
Days is a sunny, up-beat gem of an album. It’s remarkably easy-going and floats by like all those fond summer afternoons. The album is full of joyful melodies and jangling layers of guitars. Lyrically, the album follows the breeziness of the music, with frontman Martin Courtney singing “our careless lifestyle / it was not so unwise” really summing it up.
DOWNLOAD: Green Aisles
33. SMITH WESTERNS – DYE IT BLONDE
Dye It Blonde is some of the best fun I’ve had listening to music this year. It’s almost dream-like in nature. The bouncy guitar riffs accentuate the up-beat hooks. Dye It Blonde is a massive step-up from their eponymous debut and the tunes on display will furl themselves in your mind before you even realise.
DOWNLOAD: All Die Young
32. KURT VILE – SMOKE RING FOR MY HALO
Kurt Vile’s newest LP is the ultimate record for a hungover sunday morning. The rolling, complex guitar patterns compliment his low, ponderous voice. Lyrically, the album is brilliant, Vile is able to conjure the most vivid imagery in your head seamlessly.
DOWNLOAD: Jesus Fever
21. THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART – BELONG
The infamous NME review of this album might have dissuaded some people from listening to this album, but if you put time into it you’ll find that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s sophomore effort contains well-constructed lo-fi pop anthems that are catchy as hell. Belong has some of the best sing-a-longs of the year.
DOWNLOAD: Heart in Your Heartbreak
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