El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
Hip-hop that sounds harder and smarter than much else I've heard in 2012. I've listened to it more than any other album this past year: El-P's lyricism is so impressive, and that combined with his skill as a producer makes for a potent synergy.
Actress - R.I.P
The whole album is just plain mysterious and haunting: something as magisterial and cavernous as 'N.E.W.' doesn't arrive very often. 'Holy Water' sounds like someone spilling the aforementioned liquid over a U.F.O.'s bleeping control panel. My experience in listening to this album brings conflicting words like comforting, beautiful and alien to mind.
DVA - Pretty Ugly
Hugely underrated: music like 'Just Vybe', 'Why You Do', 'Eye Know' and 'Fire Fly' are just some of the jams spread out over twelve rugged but soulful tracks. Even with the guest vocalists it's still a coherent listen all the way through, and there's a disorientating quality to the beats that's been effective at keeping me hooked.
Grimes - Visions
The whole of Visions is infectious (in a good way), and a never-ending wave of hooks from one song
to the next just wriggle into your brain like the most determined bunch of ear-worms. I like how scrappy the song-titles and the production sound even though the music itself is so immaculately put together and catchy.
How to Dress Well - Total Loss
It's refreshing to listen to an album that completely embraces emotion and sounds stronger for it,
and not sappy. I love the singer's (Tom Krell) voice, and how much of surprisingly brave step forward
it is after the murky first album, Love Remains.