05) John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
Inspired by the aftermath of a particularly painful break-up, former The Czars frontman John Grant abandoned the melancholic folk of his 2010 debut and instead, rather perversely, set his bitter, angsty and self-deprecating confessional tales of relationship woes to a vibrant 80s synth-pop backdrop, producing this year’s most compelling misery-wallowing experience in the process.
04) Postiljonen – Skyer
Scandinavian trio Postiljonen’s debut album might have been heavily indebted to the reverb-drenched cinematic sound of M83; but what it lacked in originality, it made up for in playfulness, throwing in samples of everything from The Princess Bride to Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” on a string of blissful sax-led dream-pop jams which conjured up visions of the New York skyline circa mid-1980s.
03) Rhye – Woman
Proving that it’s possible to sound sexy without being overtly sexual, Rhye’s debut album was a gorgeously intimate Quiet Storm homage which had many believing that the androgynous tones of frontman Milosh in fact belonged to a Sade-esque chanteuse. Bathed in languid basslines, gentle house piano chords and finger-clicking R&B rhythms, few records this year were as sensual.
02) Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
By far the most cohesive and consistently strong album of his chameleon-like career, Dev Hynes’ second release under his Blood Orange moniker was a slick blend of chillwave, electrofunk and hipster pop also notable for inspired guest appearances from the likes of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, grime rapper Skepta and Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth.
01) CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe
Impressively managing to inject something new into an already overcrowded 80s electro-pop revival scene, Scottish trio CHVRCHES thankfully delivered on their early promise with an effervescent debut which combined Lauren Mayberry’s cutesy tones with deceptively bloodthirsty stories of revenge, a widescreen flair and massive brain-lodging hooks.