We’re currently counting down the best dance/electronica albums of the year. Here’s the next round, picking it up at number 15. (No.20-16 is here).
15) Boards Of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
Backed by a cryptic promotional campaign, the long-awaited fifth album from the kings of IDM was an equally challenging but ultimately rewarding affair which with its hypnotic array of ice-cold analogue synths, eerie echoed vocal samples and unsettling sound effects could have been mistaken for a soundtrack to a long-lost Cold War-era cult horror.
14) AlunaGeorge – Body Music
Channelling everything from the pitch-shifted witch-house of Purity Ring to the futuristic R&B Aaliyah pioneered with Timbaland to the sassy girlband fare of TLC, AlunaGeorge delivered on their early promise with an enchanting debut which threw up new warped sounds with each listen. The duo’s influences may have been obvious, but the part-butter wouldn’t melt/part-girl power feistiness tones of Aluna Francis ensured Body Music had a distinct identity of its own.
13) Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Self-described as “the perfect accompaniment to the idealized night out,” Jon Hopkins’ fourth solo effort lived up to its billing by cleverly drifting from hedonistic techno to “the morning after the night before” chill-out over ten lushly-produced, if occasionally meandering, soundscapes, picking up a deserved Mercury Prize nomination in the process.
12) James Blake – Overgrown
James Blake went one better by actually winning the Mercury Prize with a second LP that largely avoided the “style over substance” problems of his first. His fondness for space the size of the Grand Canyon was still very much evident, but this time round he allowed his fragile quivering tones to embrace the concept of a melody, while collaborations with Brian Eno and RZA also added some welcome warmth.
11) Pet Shop Boys – Electric
2012’s underwhelming Elysium suggested the synth-pop veterans had simply given up, which is why Electric came as such a pleasant surprise. Joined by Madonna producer Stuart Price, the duo barely paused for breath as they raced through the annals of UK club culture, referencing Karl Marx and covering Bruce Springsteen along the way, on a surprisingly vibrant and energetic return-to-form.