Racing through the year like a hot knife through butter, we appear to have already – already – reached 2012′s halfway point. Which seems as good a time as any to press the pause button for a moment and take a glance back at what we think has actually, when you turn around and look at it again, been a pretty exciting six months of album releases.
We here at The Line of Best Fit have taken this opportunity to revisit some of our favourite releases from the start of the year, and we’ve come up with a list of twenty. Today, we present the first ten (listed in release-date order) accompanied by what our writers thought of them at the time of release. How many will stay in the top 20 for the end of year lists, we wonder…
“This stirring, striking new album will surely (in a just world, at least) find First Aid Kit a wider audience, although this resolute new batch of songs remains intensely personal and intimate, like the whispered longings and frustrations of two siblings talking candidly to each other long after the lights have been shut off and everyone else has gone to bed.”
“There’s something much more grand and pristine about this album than what we’ve heard from Errors before. That’s not to say that it’s polished or glossy in any way, more that it’s extremely well mapped out. Each track slips seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly into its successor, yet each track also stands sturdily on its own (…) a subtly brilliant album.”
“Since 2003’s Failer, Edwards has been lauded as one of the better female songwriters of the last decade. However, Voyageur now firmly places her among the best songwriters of her generation. For album after album, she has entertained and explored; now she has mesmerised.”
“Attack on Memory feels like a third album should – a progression, a move into new territory, and an expansion, literally filling the space that previous albums suggested. And all condensed into a no-frill thirty minutes. Gutsy, aggressive, and ultimately confident, if Dylan Baldi has come this far by the age of 20, then who knows what else is to come.”
“It’s not that Van Etten’s music was ever meek or mild, butTramp’s size and ambition is a step forward that allows her to impress its feeling more vividly, not just add volume (…) It’s an album impressively relatable and vivid, filled with the chewy unpalatable stuff of failed relationships that usually gets erased in the line between autobiography and art. More than that striking life story, it’s a record that’s defined by resonances and things often thought but rarely so well put.”
“It’s just all so achingly soft, so bruisingly powerful. Ballads and torch songs of almost unknowable longing lay alongside poems of almost unbearable loss, sleeping next to paeans to possible futures as yet unrealised (…) It’s a near perfect album and Perfume Genius has, ever so swiftly, made the transition from interesting outsider to fully-fledged musical hero.”
“No matter what influence Talabot is channelling, Fin never sounds anything less than distinctive and utterly captivating. It’s a rare example of an album that’s at once deep and instantly appealing, a record equally capable of moving your brain, your heart and your feet (sometimes all at once).”
“NZCA/Lines is a true soul record, brought up to date with precision R’n’B beats and slick electronica. If Marvin Gaye’s voice was used for HAL, this is the soundtrack apes would rise to (…) What makes NZCA/Lines so special is the way that it sounds comfortingly familiar as if ingrained in our DNA, while still oozing the excitement of the undiscovered. Lovett has produced an album which relies on timeless songwriting and taps into the essence of soulful pop, shamelessly repackaging what works into a truly invigorating display of craftsmanship.”
“15 beautifully woozy songs, which rubbish any claims she is merely a French Zooey Deschanel (…) SoKo proves raw talent is the finest currency and she pays it out with gently understated vocals and haunting melodies (…) A perfect album for a melancholy Sunday afternoon.”
“World You Need…’s charm is not its mystique but its muted technicolor aesthetic. Instead of being a collection of bright, vivid dance tracks that bombard their way into your brain, here the scenario is more one of a gradual aural intoxication. It’s up to the listener to get lost in this sea of hypnagogic albeit utterly captivating skewed-disco. And those who choose to do so will undoubtedly find their soundtrack to the summer.”
Keep an eye out for part two of Best Fit’s Favourite Albums of 2012 So Far.