Albums of 2012
3. Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
With her first two albums earning Mercury Prize nominations, Bat For Lashes returned in 2012 with her third album, the beautifully crafted Haunted Man. Not afraid to do things differently and avoid following the trends of other female artists, Natasha Khan has created a stripped back sound on the album without compromising on the raw emotion that was so evident in her previous releases.
Opening track ‘Lilies’ is almost trademark Bat For Lashes, synth led with a theatrical arrangement building into the lyrical cry ‘Thank God I’m alive’. The stand out track on the album by far is ‘Laura’. Armed with the song writing ability that has previously won her an Ivor Novello Award, ‘Laura’ shows just how powerful her story telling lyrics are. The simple, gentle piano works perfectly with the melody and it is the type of song that can define an artists career. Expect more awards to follow.
2. Pond – Beards, Wives, Denim
The rise of Tame Impala over the last 2 years has seen psychedelic rock soar in popularity, bringing with it a new charge of bands such as Toy. But the origins of Tame Impala, who’s album Lonerism has widely been accredited 2012’s album of the year, can be closely linked to Pond as in fact they share three band members. Originally seen as a side project to Tame Impala, Pond have come out of the shadow with an album that tests the genre and sounds a lot more experimental than Lonerism.
The album Beards,Wives, Denim, opens frantically with ‘Fantastic Explosion of Time’ and doesn’t pause for breath from there on in. Filled with solos that pulsate into psychedelic trips and lots of background chat at the start and end of songs, tracks like ‘You Broke My Cool’ and ‘Moth Wings’ also show that the album is also filled with great pop songs. The album is unlikely to gain the plaudits of highly acclaimed Tame Impala, but it is arguably a much greater achievement and a must listen for fans of the aforementioned band.
Here’s the song ‘When it Explodes’ which packs together everything that is great about Pond
1. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
A handful of new bands are put forward at the start of each year as ‘the ones to watch’ for the year ahead. Many will release successful albums, many will fall by the way side and on that rare occasion one will create a genre defining album completely unique to all around it. In 2009 it was The xx, 2011 it was Bon Iver and in 2012 it was Alt-J.
However hard it may be to pigeonhole Alt-J into a single genre, they have created their own unique sound with An Awesome Wave, and it works perfectly. Drawing on aspects of Wild Beast, James Blake and Foals to name but a few, the album is experimental and offers something new at every turn. Lead single ‘Tessellate’ draws on electronica with layered piano and a beautifully hushed vocals. Latest single ‘Matilda’ is their most radio friendly offering with acoustic guitar and fragile lyrics ‘my defeat sits toe to toe with her success’. ‘Something Good’ would sit comfortably on In Rainbows and ‘Breezeblocks’ manages to encompass an acapella chant.
Cries of love, lingering relationships and heartache show a deeper edge to the band, beyond their intriguingly innovative sound and the lyrics are crammed with references, such as to Where the Wild Things Are on ‘Breezeblocks’ and Luc Besson‘s film Leon on ‘Matilda’. It is an album that is almost too strong to be a debut. Full of emotion, quirky, experimental but with emerging melodies and meanings that unravel more on every listen.
It went on to be one of the stand out albums of 2012 winning the coveted Mercury Prize award.