Albums to watch

El-P: His album was hugely acclaimed on its release, but forgotten when it came to the end-of-year lists

The ADM Top 10 2012

The most acclaimed albums of the year: you can't argue with mathematics

 

Now everyone's had their fun with the Best Albums of 2012 roundups, it's time to take stock of the cold hard facts of what really were the most critically-acclaimed albums over the past 12 months.

The Any Decent Music top 10 of 2012 is the most reliable guide to what earned the most extensive overall praise from reviewers. It's not skewed by idiosyncratic judgments or personal prejudice - it's the widest survey of worldwide critical opinion around, and you can't argue with mathematics.

The majority of the albums in our top 20 were reviewed by between 30 and 50 of our sources from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Ireland, and the formula we apply to arrive at the ADM rating takes the number of reviews into account. (We also exclude any albums with fewer than 10 reviews.) We've listed them here with an extract from one selected review which best sums up the general reaction to the album.

NB: The ratings in our database are to two decimal places although we display them to one decimal place. So, for example, Fiona Apple's album has achieved a higher rating than the other two albums on 8.5.

 

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8.9

Frank Ocean

Channel Orange

Channel Orange is so arrestingly smooth that all of its unusually shaped pieces fit together as a seamless whole.

AV Club

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8.5

Fiona Apple

The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

It's a melancholic album that's so personal and revealing you'll almost feel like an emotional voyeur for listening to it.

Rave Magazine

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8.5

Kendrick Lamar

good Kid, m.A.A.d city

A powerful, significant, thrilling and astonishing affair.

The Irish Times

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8.5

Tame Impala

Lonerism

An array of songs and sound production to surpass their impressive 2010 debut.

The Line Of Best Fit

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8.4

Burial

Kindred

Never before has his music possessed this much majesty, this much command, this much power.

Pitchfork

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8.4

Death Grips

The Money Store

An incredible, precedent-resetting manifesto.

BBC

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8.3

Swans

The Seer

Everything we could have hoped for - it is Swans, standing proudly and unabashedly at the top of their game after nearly thirty years.

Sputnik Music

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8.2

Chromatics

Kill For Love

The scope of Kill For Love is one that words can't adequately capture, but the imagination it fires can.

music OMH

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8.2

El-P

Cancer For Cure

A labyrinthine and ultramodern take on hip-hop that will likely age like a Cabernet.

Beats Per Minute

 

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8.2

Can

The Lost Tapes

Not a minute comes off as extraneous. This is a wonderful collection of music from a legendary group and is an essential for any fan

Under The Radar

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And the next 10

  1. 8.2  Liars XIXIW
  2. 8.2  Flying Lotus Until The Quiet Comes
  3. 8.2  Bill Fay Life Is People
  4. 8.1  The Men Open Your Heart
  5. 8.1  Staff Benda Bilili Bouger Le Monde
  6. 8.1  High On Fire De Vermis Mysteriis
  7. 8.1  Andy Stott Luxury Problems
  8. 8.1  Anaïs Mitchell Young Man In America
  9. 8.1  Killer Mike R.A.P. Music
  10. 8.1  John Talabot fIN

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While the ADM report, set alongside our poll of polls rankings, confirms the pre-eminence of Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and underlines the critical success of several other names - Tame Impala, Kendrick Lamar, Fiona Apple, Swans, Chromatics - there are some interesting variations.

The Grimes album, Visions, at No.3 in the end-of-year lists, could justifiably claim to be the most successful "alternative" album of the year behind the unquestioned urban and rock albums of the year. However it is nowhere to be seen in the ADM report rankings, having gained a relatively moderate 7.6 rating on its release. Only a handful of critics awarded Visions more than an 8/10, and it also attracted a smattering of 5s and 6s.

On the other hand, a couple of albums which figure prominently in the ADM report would appear to have fallen away in the critical thinking come the end of the year.

When El-P's Cancer For Cure was released in May, a good few reviewers agreed with The Skinny's view that it would come to be seen as one of the best pieces of hip-hop of the early 21st century. However it did not feature anywhere in the end-of-year top 50.

Likewise Can's The Lost Tapes, a three-hour, 30-track overview of the band's unreleased material, which was hailed in the summer as a highly-important release from a significant group and garlanded with a host of 10/10 and 9/10 ratings only to disappear almost completely from reviewers' minds six months later. This could of course be attributed to critics focusing on 2012's new musical output when it comes to choosing albums of the year.

The other high-profile variance between the two lists is easily explained: Burial's Kindred was a hugely-praised 30-minute three-track release which some reviewers regarded as a mini album, others as an EP, and almost all excluded from their albums of the year lists presumably on the basis of its format.

It's also interesting to note that the albums from the two most recognised UK "breakthrough" bands, Alt J and Django Django, received what could be termed as guarded welcomes on their release. At 7.4 and 7.6 respectably, they achieved respectable ratings that would not suggest their strong performances in the end-of-year reckoning.

 

 

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