by / December 21st, 2011 /

Top Story: State’s Albums of 2011: 10 – 1

So here we are, the top ten albums of the year – as voted for by the State team. As ever, it’s been a fascinating list (especially when you compare it to our mid-year poll). Some of the albums you might have expected to feature highly haven’t even made the list, with other, more left field, releases doing well. And we think number 1 will surprise you just a little. Thanks to all our writers and photographers for taking the time to vote, we’re looking forward to next year already.

Albums of 2011: 75-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

10. DrakeTake Care

“Never underestimate the troubled life of a platinum-selling superstar artiste: dealing with excess, squandering millions and record company pressure – it’s proverbial fodder for that difficult second album and Aubrey Graham is chowing down. Take Care works off the same template as Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, sharing the thematics of boastful celebration but also self-analysis and ridicule. ” Review

9. Laura MarlingA Creature I Don’t Know

“Since Marling first debuted as a teenaged, flaxen-haired, chain-smoking bundle of nerves, she has been dutifully compared to Joni Mitchell. With the magnificent A Creature I Don’t Know, this young artist finally vaults into a different, but equally confident, stratosphere as her mentor, assuring that generations of future songwriters will cite Marling as one of the reasons they first picked up a guitar.” Review

8. Wild BeastsSmother

“While Two Dancers made apparent that Wild Beasts had become a great band, Smother confirms that they have now transformed into nothing less than an important band.” Review

7. AustraFeel It Break

“Intensely intimate and coated in melancholy without ever drifting into soppy woe-is-me territory.” Review

6. M83Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

“What has been achieved on the album is a full embodiment of what music celebrating the power of dreams should be, an experience that is as elaborate, vivid, and moving as the dreams it hopes to emulate.” Review

5. MetronomyThe English Riviera

“An album that has been thought about, craftsmanship that has been contemplated and carefully created, The English Riviera is a pure joy, a memory of the old-style English seaside – sandcastles and beach huts, simplicity and innocence. We may never have been there but with eyes closed the layered harmonies, sweeping, looped electronics and silky bass transport us to the Devonshire coast as if it were our own childhood being relived through song.” Review

4. James BlakeJames Blake

“His mastery of instruments and technology combined with delicate vocals, a less-is-more attitude, a predilection for wub-wubbing bass and a ridiculously gifted ear for an angelic melody help make James Blake an absorbing listen from start to finish.”Review

3. Bon IverBon Iver

“A slow curve, rising in the beginning and plateauing somewhat in the second part, Bon Iver is a brave and beautiful album which has taken a less trodden path from a successful first. For all the album’s slow pace and fridge-magnet lyrics, Justin Vernon seems a man to trust, Bon Iver may just need time and patience for its full worth to be realised.”Review

2. PJ HarveyLet England Shake

“What PJ Harvey excels at is creating a unified mood within each album she produces, without ever covering old ground and although Let England Shake is wholly consumed with death, the album never slips into gloominess. It’s the lightness of touch which strengthens this collection, the contrast of dark lyrics with, often, jaunty melodies. While this may not be Harvey’s finest long player, it is certainly a work of substance, a record of our times and of England’s history. Let’s just hope David Cameron is listening.” Review

1. The WeekndHouse Of Balloons

The Weeknd’s drugged out, sex obsessed anthems see warbled digitalism and affected singing get bent around straight-up r&b melodies and ominous pulses. Samples are pulled from off-kilter sources: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cocteau Twins, Beach House and more fittingly Aaliyah. This is party music, but the tail end of the party, where “Zombies of the night” are dredging around for codeine cups and ‘The Morning’ brings a glorious come-down drenched in Abel Tesfaye’s Auto-Tune cries and rhythmic spits. 2011, the year the year r&b broke indie and a mixtape became a classic album.

  • Lucy Jackson

    I haven’t listened to the Weeknd – yet must rectify pronto! I am in general agreement with your choices. Would find it a pretty tough job to put them in an order

  • Hil

    “Let’s M83. Right now. Oh yeah. In sweet har-mony”