05) Crystal Castles – III
Crystal Castles’ third album might not have assaulted the senses in the same abrasive manner as their first two nightmarish studio efforts, but it was still a beautifully unnerving record. From its themes of dystopia and oppression to Ethan Kath’s shimmering doom-laden production, its ten tracks drew you in to their typically unhinged and yet strangely emotive world, even if you had little idea what femme fatale Alice Glass was shrieking about.
04) Jessie Ware – Devotion
Proving that not all British pop stars named Jessie are incapable of reining it in, 28-year-old Ware’s astonishingly self-assured debut album was the epitome of understatement. Fully realising the potential she showed on previous collaborations with Joker and SBTRKT, Devotion became the missing link between 80s soul-pop and 00s dub culture thanks to 11 effortlessly sophisticated tracks such as the’ lighter than air’ drum ‘n’ bass of the Big Pun-sampling “110,” the Sade-esque Quiet Storm of “Running” and the stunning power balladry of “Wildest Moments.”
03) Bright Light Bright Light – Make Me Believe In Hope
Formerly an acoustic folk singer-songwriter, Welshman Rod Thomas ditched the guitars and instead embraced the euphoric club pop of the early 90s on his first album under his Gremlins-inspired moniker. It was an inspired decision as despite its crying at the discotheque themes, Make Me Believe In Hope was a joyously uplifting listen, from the anthemic house of “Waiting For The Feeling” to the vintage Pet Shop Boys-esque “Love Part III” to the angular indie-disco of “A New Word To Say.”
02) Delilah – From The Roots Up
Inspired by the 90s trip-hop of Massive Attack and Portishead, French-born chanteuse Delilah’s debut album was a gorgeously brooding affair that deserved far more acclaim than it received. Her sparse atmospheric interpolations of Minnie Riperton’s “Inside My Love” and Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” were stunning enough. But her own material was just as hypnotic, from the best Bond theme that never was, “Love You So,” to the playful Balearic house of “So Irate,” to the simply breath-taking balladry of “Shades Of Grey,” which had it been recorded by Adele, would probably have been number one for weeks.
01) Purity Ring – Shrines
With talk of drilling holes into eyelids and cutting open rib cages, Canadian duo Purity Ring’s debut album reads like a fairly grotesque series of fairy tales. But thanks to Corin Roddick’s jittery witch house production and Megan James’ enchanting girlish tones, Shrines was just as strangely sensual as it was macabre. On first listen, its 8-bit wall of sound is fairly indistinguishable, but its eerie nocturnal charms begin to unfold with each play, particularly on the haunting “Lofticries” and the infectious post-R&B of “Obedear,” eventually resulting in a record which is utterly mesmerising from beginning to end.