Albums of the Year 16-11: Fixers, Here We Go Magic, Tribes, Vaccines, King Charles and Dog is Dead

Continuing our countdown of the best albums of 2012...

No. 16

Fixers and We’ll Be The Moon 

Arriving apparently from nowhere, (actually Oxford), heavily influenced by classic period Beach Boys, sprinkled with some  1980’s electro-pop glitter and filtered through a gauze of modern US indie bands like Animal Collective, this was another debut album that didn’t sound like a debut album. Gorgeous harmonies, some dance beats to keep the kids happy, clever, thrilling pop songs – perfect for the summer but still sounds good in the dark days of December.

 

No. 15

Here We Go Magic and A Different Ship 

“How Do I Know” is perhaps THE track of the year, a joyful and hypnotic slab of clever, simple, moving pop music.  The band have been given the Radiohead seal of approval, and this album was produced by their producer Nigel Godrich. A few tracks sound a little like their mentors, albeit without some of the late period weirdness, but it is a hard to categorise album, with a mix of pop tunes, a bit of funkiness, interesting electronic effects, and a complex but clean sound – it reminded me of all sorts of people (Talking Heads,  Beatles, Radiohead, Hot Chip...) but the overall effect is just that of one of the best albums of the year. (stay with the video beyond the first 20 seconds!)

 

No.14

Tribes and Baby

Another UK debut album, sounding like the teenage offspring of Mott the Hoople, Marc Bolan and Oasis. Unsubtle but classic mainstream song-writing, performed with the confidence of the best looking lads in a home counties club on a Saturday night... swaggering tunes, with touches of delicacy that bode well for the future. Charismatic live, and a second album due out early in 2013 – maybe they’re not the new Oasis but they should go far.

 

No.13

Dog is Dead and All Our Favourite Stories

This is not one of the more critically acclaimed albums in our list. But we loved it. Indie-pop again, ranging from tracks that sound Coldplay / Athlete-like to others that are more Maccabees or Bombay Bicycle Club. But always with a great sense of melody and dynamics. Nothing revolutionary maybe but just a thoroughly enjoyable album, and in Teenage Daughter one of the very best singles of the year.

No. 12

King CharlesLoveBlood

A preposterous look – a regency dandy who dropped out of Durham University in 2007 for a musical career – and I was dead set against King Charles before I’d heard his music. I was wrong. An intoxicating mix of a classic singer-songwriter Paul Simon type vibe, Caribbean rhythms, slightly fey folk rock, and indie-pop made this one of the strangest (in genre terms) yet most listenable fun, pop albums of the year. Nothing particularly deep in the lyrics or music, but great fun for the teenagers and for those who are still young at heart...

 

No. 11

Vaccines with Come of Age

Surely they couldn’t keep up the dumb, rock ‘n roll, guitar heavy simplicity of their debut album and sustain it over another 40 minutes?  But they did. With just enough progression to keep things interesting – raiding classic 60s Mersey beat pop bands (and even the Tornadoes!) for their guitar sounds as well as the Ramones, Strokes and Iggy Pop as before – and sing-a long catchy tunes, this was another success. And you have to like a band of young men writing a song (that had thousands at festivals singing along) called “I wish I was a girl”, without coming over either ironic or creepy!

Numbers 10 to 6 tomorrow - getting exciting!

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