Best of 2012: The albums that hit the mark

Journal editors reveal which albums released this year made their list of must-listens

Beach House
Bloom

With their newest release Bloom, Beach House continues to do what it does best — build you up for a musical climax.
The soaring instruments take you to the big reveal where a cymbal roll or Victoria LeGrand singing impassioned long notes gesture you out of the song.

— Janina Enrile

Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel...

The Idler Wheel... opens with the track “Every Single Night,” a song that brings about the typical Apple fanfare — an intro with light piano that leads to Apple’s heavy, dynamic vocals. What’s different with this album is that we see a more complicated but, dare we say it, forgiving Fiona Apple.
But, of course, she’s still emotional and inwardly chaotic. There’s nothing simple about any of it and that’s the grand takeaway.

— Janina Enrile

Audrey Assad
Heart

Mellow tunes, soft beats and Audrey Assad’s soothing voice form a wonderful synthesis of lyrical modesty and emotional engagement in Heart.
“Breaking You”’s inspirational lyrics left me simultaneously wanting a hug, then getting a virtual one from Assad.

— Terence Wong

Two Steps From Hell
Skyworld

Powerful orchestral set pieces, randomized rhythmic ranges, and discernable vocals. This is the make up of Bergersen and
Phoenix’s Skyworld.
If you only give one track a listen, pick the title song and prepare your auditory senses to be bombarded in ways that few other songs can accomplish.

— Terence Wong

Imagine Dragons
Night Visions

Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions is my go-to “conquer the world” soundtrack. Mirroring the tenacity of a child’s first attempt to fly, the band gets the listener involved in each song.
When lead singer Dan Reynolds breathes in after singing “I’m breathing in the chemicals,” I inhale my breath at the same time.

— Savoula Stylianou

Of Monsters and Men
My Head Is An Animal

From tracks like “Six Weeks” to “Sloom,” this Icelandic group proves they can do the buoyant, upbeat tunes just as well as they do the unhurried, leisurely slow songs.
My Head Is An Animal leaves me smiling in the most sheepish of manners after realizing I’m not, in fact, Nanna.

— Savoula Stylianou

Passion Pit
Gossamer

“It’s not my fault, I’m happy.” With song titles like that, Passion Pit sings to the warmest reaches of my heart with their latest album Gossamer. Imagine a cartoonishly cool voice singing some of the most uplifting lyrics right into your earbuds.
Passion Pit is the perfect 30-second dance party soundtrack, because 30 seconds is more than enough.

— Savoula Stylianou

Alabama Shakes
Boys and Girls

Alabama Shakes shakes up my dormant bluesy soul with lead singer Brittany Howard’s powerhouse vocal stylings.
The melancholy autobiographical lyrics provide the listener with an inside look into Howard’s deepest soul and the hungry guitar riffs left me wanting more and more.

— Joanna Plucinska

Purity Ring
Shrines

Purity Ring’s Shrines makes you feel like you’re floating on a pure high.
Megan James’ haunting vocals and Corin Roddick’s masterful layering of electronic beats combine to give you an ethereal experience au naturel.

— Joanna Plucinska

Two Door Cinema Club
Beacon

It’s the first love that leaves the deepest imprint on your music memory.
But Two Door Cinema Club’s second album proves the second attempt cuts just as deep.
Beacon’s dance-able pop music gives the listener the false impression they are in a crowd singing along with Alex Trimble as he croons “The World Is Watching.”

— Joanna Plucinska

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