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The 10 best albums of 2014

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10Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence

The melodies are uniformly beautiful, and they soar and swoop, the better to demonstrate Del Rey’s increased confidence in her voice. It’s all so well done that the fact that the whole album proceeds at the same, somnambulant pace scarcely matters.

9Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Wild Beasts revel in their idiosyncrasies; you can hear it in the duelling vocals and choral layers, the words that shouldn’t fit, the tunes that veer off in unexpected directions.

8St Vincent – St Vincent

The most striking thing about St Vincent is how confident it seems: from its title to the opening crunch of distorted drum machine to the gorgeous closing ballad, Severed Crossed Fingers.

7Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Benji, roughly his 13th album, might well be this difficult artist’s most direct work, possibly the most devastating this career melancholic has ever penned.

6Beck – Morning Phase

Despite the lyrical themes, the record’s sun-dappled shimmer suggests Beck sees a way out of his emotional hole. The bad news for him is that being in it seems to make for some of his best music.

5Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

The music is good enough that a lack of revelation doesn’t really seem to matter while Everyday Robots is playing. Whoever Damon Albarn is, he’s extremely good at what he does.

4James – La Petite Mort

Watch James’s track-by-track commentary on the album seem to matter while Everyday Robots is playing.

3James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

This is an incredibly beautiful record: the Lakes swims in woozy Americana, Repeating’s celestially climatic caws are similar to fellow vessel of emotion Patrick Watson, and Cavalier’s cries of ‘I remember my first love’ produce a sensationally stirring moment.

2East India Youth – Total Strife Forever

William Doyle offers up shimmering passages of systems-indebted music, like opener Glitter Recession these give way to stylishly observed club-facing workouts.

1The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

The long, spaced-out fades of Under the Pressure and Disappearing provide dreamy interludes worthy of Tangerine Dream. The decaying guitars and analogue synthesisers create a crepuscular melancholy.

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