10) Polica – Give You The Ghost
Containing so much AutoTune that it makes T-Pain sound organic, the debut album from Minneapolis five-piece Polica should have been a strangely cold and mechanical experience. But although Channy Leaneagh’s ethereal tones were drowned in studio trickery, Give Up The Ghost was a strangely emotive, if slightly disorientating, break-up album that at various points echoed the atmospheric melancholy of The xx. Championed by both Jay-Z and Bon Iver, Polica have the potential to cross over in the same way.
09) Miike Snow – Happy To You
With Britney & Madonna producers Bloodshy & Avant making up two thirds of their line-up, few were expecting Miike Snow’s self-titled debut album to be as leftfield as it was. Proving it was no fluke, follow-up Happy To You was arguably even more idiosyncratic, lurching from kaleidoscopic lullabies (“Enter The Jokers Lair”) to hushed folktronica (“God Help This Divorce”) to proggy electro (“Black Tin Box”). In a fantastic year for Scandinavian dance acts, Miike Snow reigned supreme.
08) Hot Chip – In Our Heads
Now drifting into middle-age, the elder statesmen of the indie-disco scene, Hot Chip, remained as playful as ever on the most consistent and warmest record of their career. The nods to Bacharach-esque lounge pop, 70s yacht-rock and 90s R&B slow jams were captivating enough. But seemingly rejuvenated by their various side-projects, In Our Heads was at its best when it ventured onto the dancefloor, from the Scissor Sisters-esque electro of “Night & Day,” to the Chicago house pastiche “How Do You Do” to the joyous Tarzan Boy-inspired “Let Me Be Him.”
07) Ayah Marar – The Real
After almost a decade of backing vocals and session work, Jordan-born singer-songwriter Ayah Marar made the most of her opportunity in the limelight with a hook-laden journey through the history of club culture. Whether Middle Eastern-tinged R&B, early Whitney-inspired dance-pop, or melancholic drum ‘n’ bass, Marar handled each sub-genre with aplomb on a record which deserved to be just as successful as the superstar DJs she’d previously lent her enchanting vocals to.
06) The xx – Coexist
Taking the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to recording a sophomore, The xx’s follow-up to their Mercury Prize-winning debut was sometimes so spacious and minimalistic that you could hear a pin drop. Jamie Smith’s uncluttered production, therefore, might not have been as ground-breaking the second time around. But when surrounding such gorgeously melancholic melodies as those on “Angels” and “Chained,” not to mention Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft’s beautifully intertwining harmonies, it didn’t really matter.