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.