Here, then, after much deliberation are my Top 27 LPs of 2011. I’ve placed them carefully in order of greatness, but, to dust down an old cliché, if they are in this list, they are great. (Also, by the time you are about halfway down, you can barely get a cigarette paper between them.) I know it doesn’t matter in the broader scheme of things, but I have spent the past couple of weeks intensively listening again to the contenders for the Top 10, sometimes mixing them up on my iPod so that I don’t know what’s coming next, which may be counter to the spirit of the album, but it helped me make some difficult choices. There’s nothing like the feeling when a track comes up on shuffle from a playlist comprising only your favourite albums of the year and you don’t immediately recognise it but you know you love it. That way, impartial assessment can be achieved. So …
1. Rob St. John Weald
2. Ghostpoet Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
3. Metronomy The English Riviera
4. The Horrors Skying
5. James Blake James Blake
6. Adele 21
7. Jonnie Common Deskjob
8. The Kills Blood Pressures
9. Battles Gloss Drop
10. Elbow Build A Rocket Boys!
11. Luke Haines 9½ Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and Early 80s
12. The Wild Swans The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years
13. Katy B On A Mission
14. Death Grips Ex-Military
15. Bon Iver Bon Iver
16. Anna Calvi Anna Calvi
17. Chris T-T Disobedience
18. TV On The Radio Nine Types Of Light
19. Lymes Goodbye Bangkok
20. Little Dragon Ritual Union
21. Frank Turner England Keep My Bones
22. Los Campesinos! Hello Sadness
23. Bombay Bicycle Club A Different Kind Of Fix
24. Alex Turner Submarine
25. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi Rome
26. Das Racist Relax
27. Martin John Henry The Other Half of Everything
Here’s what happens now: you’ll post comments beneath this list and ask me why I haven’t included an album you love, and it will be because of one of these two reasons – I haven’t heard the album, or I don’t like it enough to put it in my Top 27. So, no King Of Limbs by Radiohead or PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake. It’s just a matter of taste. There’s something very odd about liking one of the most successful albums of all time – Adele’s 21 – but I’ve had it for most of this year and I’m still enjoying listening to it. I can’t help liking so many of this year’s Mercury shortlist either – that’s just the way the cards fell. I have no desire to shock you with my obscurity or impress you with my cool. I am 46.
I do like the fact that my list is bookended by two Scottish-based solo records with a similarly pastoral/geographical looking cover, and that both are solo debuts, too. That seems entirely apt. I’ve found my love of music reinvigorated this year, as I’ve stated for the record elsewhere – by depping on 6 Music, by watching Later…, by hanging around Josie Long, and by the fact that smaller labels tend to put handwritten notes in with things, and that makes me take notice. I like that this has happened, as I was worried that I could no longer form new relationships with artists. This turns out not to be true. I’m genuinely more excited about the new than I am about the old as this year turns into another one.
Enough of my yakkin’ – let’s play some records!