Top 50 of 2012: 30-21

30. Azealia Banks - Fantasea (Azealia Banks - Fantasea)
Azealia Banks is excitement personified. 212 was easily one of the top tracks of 2011, and her Coachella set, which lasted just 20 minutes was the most hotly anticipated of the weekend. 
Fantasea is an excellent bridge between pop stardom from one song to a hotly anticipated album. It allows Banks to express herself and explore her abilities. Fortunately for us, it houses some brilliant beats and Banks doesn't fall in to the Minaj trap of commercial pop. This is a mixtape by an MC. 'He tricking off, cause my verse perverse / And jerking off when a bitch rehearse him / And when I lift the skirt, your nigga never gotta be coerced / To just squirt and he eats the dessert'. Skillful. Best Tracks: FIERCE, NATHAN

29. GOOD Music - Cruel Summer (Various Artists – Kanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer) 
A fluctuating, varied release, Cruel Summer was one of the most newsworthy and anticipated records this year. For me, it didn't disappoint. Kanye and co provided us with some of the biggest beats of the year, with Clique and Mercy performing brilliantly on the charts. There is enough quality scattered amongst the other tracks for Cruel Summer not to flop, and it engages throughout. Whenever Kanye spits, the track thrives, and he's proven he is now one of the best rappers in the world, even if his talent gathering isn't quite up to Jay-Z levels. Best Tracks: Clique, Mercy

28.    Grizzly Bear - Shields (Grizzly Bear – Shields
We finally get the Grizzly Bear album we knew was coming. Always sonically beautiful, the band at times lacked direction and depth lyrically. Shields provides listeners with issues, narratives, insight in to the minds of its creators. Sleeping Ute bounces, halts, grows and entrances. It draws you in to this dark, intentionally anxious world. The album pushes and pulls you, between its beauty of lightness and its aggressive depths. Best Tracks: Sleeping Ute, Yet Again

27.  Twin Shadow - Confess (Twin Shadow – Confess)
Never have i disliked a character that someone has created for themselves more than George Lewis Jr as Twin Shadow. You will grow to hate him too. Yet you'll learn to trust him in the way you trust something that acts consistently. Thankfully, he has crafted what is one of the great pop records of the 00s. Always honest, brutally so, he mixes tales of modern 'player' activities with stunning throwbacks to the late 70s and 80s synth pop to create melodies even the toughest critic would find hard to resist. Dance-able, but only at 5am. Best Tracks: Golden Light, Five Seconds

26.  Django Django - Django Django (Django Django – Django Django)
It sounds, at times, like a 60s surf record, at times a late 70s disco classic, and then out of the blue some crazy futuristic incarnation of Hard-Fi or Hot Chip. It never lulls, there is energy throughout, and the guitar from Hail Bop will honestly pulse through you, instantly recognisable as something you've heard somewhere. Default is one of the tracks of the year. By the time you slide through to the final track it's relaxed and spaced you out. It smacks of youth! Best Tracks: Hail Bop, Default

25.  Chairlift - Something (Chairlift – Something)
From Sidewalk Safari you know you're on track for something a little different. Chairlift don't fail here. The album is a weird but effective mix of spaced out synth beats juxtaposed with clearer than expected vocal performances. It is refreshing, even in the current climate of synth overload. The first few tracks transport you back to the wonderful 80s. If you heard this on your oldies channel you wouldn't question it, yet it progresses through the years to deliver something progressive and futuristic by the time you've hit Cool As A Fire. Best Tracks: Sidewalk Safari, Wrong Opinion

24.  Big Boi - Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours (Big Boi – Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors)
Big Boi always manages to provide something different. As one half of Outkast, you expect no less. VLDR is a progression to a type of hip hop record that hasn't been invented yet. It's a brilliant meld of alternative, indie styling and trademark hip hop. Heavy, very heavy, on hooks, on parts of the record Big Boi sits back and allows his collaborators full control. The result is quite brilliant, one of the most listenable pop experiements of the year but tinged always with Big Boi's southern flavoured brand of rap music. In The A is a particularly good example of how he hasn't forgotten his southern roots. Compare this with Mama Told Me. Very diverse release. Best Tracks: Apple Of My Eye, Mama Told Me

23. Mumford & Sons - Babel (Mumford & Sons – Babel)
Highly anticipated, this record came with a bang but has sort of been glossed over and forgotten in the major end of year awards. Not quite as consistent as their debut, but nonetheless a stand out record.  The title track hits you in the chest as Marcus Mumford gruffly propels in the way only he can. Thumping, stomping. The brilliant I Will Wait a magnificent exploration of sentiment, projected so well by Marcus. Most songs following a familiar style, always finishing strong, makes for an extremely strong release. Lyrically, again Marcus is adept, detailing loss and love in that brilliant voice. Best Tracks: Babel, I Will Wait

22. Beak> - >> (Beak> – > >)
 If you're feeling particularly anxious, don't listen to this album. For some reason it compounds the problem. A frenetically arranged affair, The Gaul details perfectly how in a single track Beak> can create and destroy a theme without breaking a sweat. You'll find elements of dub, EDM, drone, ambient, drum and bass and about 13 or 14 different other genres on display. Essentially, this feels as though it's designed to be a chill out record, but because of the futuristic sounds and madcap song structures you will need to interact with it more than on a relaxing sunday. Best Tracks: Deserters, The Gaul

21. Maria Minerva - Will Happiness Ever Find Me? (Maria Minerva – Will Happiness Find Me?)
A brilliantly quirky release that quickly got lost amongst a sea of quirky electronic releases, Will Happiness Ever Find Me? is a seductive romp through the world of avant pop. There are moments of clarity, The Sound is quite focused for example, but these are happily lost amongst the electronic romp that Maria Minerva leads us on. Coming Of Age even combines elements of drone with 3 distinct melody changes to create an odd track that reminds of Band On The Run by WINGS. You won't get bored listening to this record. Best Tracks: The Sound, Coming Of Age

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