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Best albums of 2012 - the first five

19th December 2012

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Alt J“Music’s not as good as it used to be”, “no one does anything interesting any more”. We hear it all time about music in 2012. Well, the people saying that obviously weren’t listening to the same stuff as we were this year!

2012 has been a year full of fresh, exciting and awesome new music. After weeks and weeks of heated debate, falling out, tears and opinions TNS critics settled on our top 20 albums of this year.

We will reveal them five at a time (in no particular order, it was hard enough getting the list we have without having to number them and we needed to stop the debate short of it turning to actual violence!).

Here are the first five:

Kendrick Lemar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

Kendrick Lemar’s  second album dropped to almost unanimous critical acclaim, heralded as one of the most interesting hip hop records of the year. TNS’s Deborah Findlater agreed giving it five out of five, saying,

“good kid, m.A.A.d. city is incredibly multi-faceted with so much more to be said about it. Each track helps to paint to a portrait of Kendrick Lamar and by the end of the album it feels as if we know him the same way we know a good friend. In all the areas it excels in (lyricism, production and storytelling) its greatest success is that like he intended, we know Kendrick better, that like his mum’s voicemail says that “he rose from a dark place of violence, becoming a positive person.”

Read the full review

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

This is the Mercury-winning gem that really needs no introduction. Alt-j produced a truly unique and accomplished debut album which whilst largely ignored on its release has slowly dripped its way into the collective consciousness. Alexander Green summed up An Awesome Wave like this:

“This an album which cannot be categorised into a genre or placed to similar contemporaries. Alt-J have taken every musical influence and made it their own, producing an inventive and quirky sound that makes 'An Awesome Wave' a enthralling listen. Each song is like a surprise present waiting to be opened.”

Read the full review


You Slut! – Medium Bastard

This offensively titled Derby/Nottingham based four-piece built on the math-rock foundations of their debut to drop a second album with more depth and intriguing aural-layers. Medium Bastard twists and turns in unexpected ways whilst being as heavy as lead. Josh Carvell described the instrumental release like this: 

“You Slut! is a band that write technical, convoluted music layered with intricacies and surprises at every turn. Their music is certainly experimental, but it smashes all conventions expected in the genre, with songs that grab you by the throat and drag you into a world of pure anarchy.” 

Read the full review

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

OFWGKTA’s resident crooner Frank Ocean’s sexuality pushed the hype about his debut album to new heights, but he delivered an instant classic that more than matched up to it. Deborah Findlater was blown away: 

“Channel Orange sets Frank Ocean miles ahead of his contemporaries as he refuses to play it safe. Pointing to legends such as Prince and Stevie Wonder blending funk and prog rock, Ocean has created something truly innovative. The singer has a natural knack for crafting tales full of emotion and complex lyricism. In the words of Odd future cohort Taco, Channel Orange is 'an instant classic.” 

Read the full review


The Invisible – Rispah

Rispah is an album borne out of adversity. Not only did Dave Okumu’s mother die forcing the album to become a “love-letter to grief” but he was then electrocuted on-stage performing in Nigeria – he could have died. These themes of life and death flow throughout this, their second album. Our Hannah Embleton-Smith wrote:

“Rispah deals with the conflicts of grief, from anger and fear to acceptance, circulating these emotions through searching instrumentals and bringing them together in final tracks ‘The Stain’ and ‘Protection’. Okumu sings “you only have this life, now, to express yourself”, an axiom which the trio epitomise in this fine-tuned album.”

Read the full review


Five more of our top albums of 2012 are coming soon.......

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