2012 has been sort of a weird year, hasn’t it? The intermingling of hope and apocalyptic fervor (Y2K much?) put strange vibes into the air—vibes that certainly (at least from our perspective) informed much of the musical landscape as well as the mental.
It’s the last day of the year, and whether you’re spending it at an overcrowded, lackluster party or sitting quietly at home, you have more than enough wonderful songs to soundtrack your way into 2013. We know you know it, too. You’ve already told us your favorite tracks, artists, labels and a variety of other things. All that remains is your favorite album, and no surprise (to us, anyway)—it’s Grimes‘ Visions. Claire Boucher absolutely dominated this year. Her avant-pop is the perfect sound of the times, challenging yet brilliantly beautiful, while her DIY spirit helping to show all us freaks that you can achieve success without compromising yourself—or your visions.
In second place is Holy Other‘s stirring Held, the first full-length from the young cherub-in-black and the perfect response to those lackwit left-behinds who still insist there’s no real feeling or emotion in electronic music. Held is emotion, an album that holds you like an embrace, wraps ephemeral arms about you and lifts you into a higher plane. It’s a true listening experience, and rests comfortably high in many of our own personal Best Of lists as well.
Chromatics‘ Kill For Love stunned us as well when we first heard it, and it certainly deserves a spot on this list—even at third place. Everything that drew us into the flickering, neon-lit world of 2007’s Night Drive is here: the intimate coos of Ruth Radlet, the sparkling synth-pop, and a firm sense of the cinematic, Kill For Love tightens those aesthetics like a silken noose. Rarely has loneliness felt so engaging.
Flying Lotus is a name we’ve all come to trust as one of the more forward-thinking producers over the years, and his latest LP Until The Quiet Comes enforces his status in a rather gentle fashion. While less bombastic than many of his previous works, the stripped-down and minimized textures are no less rich, the worlds Steven Ellison fashions no less engaging. In this case, less truly is more.
The fifth and final goes to Crystal Castles, and they’ve earned it. With III, there’s a sense that the duo have finally transcended their tired electro roots to emerge into a wholly different space. Most of the BOUNCEBOUNCERAVERAVE vibe has been replaced (perhaps due in part to the album being wholly produced by band member Ethan Kath) by something harsher, less commercial and far more engaging. If III‘s shattered vocals, brooding synth lines and moments of disaffected loveliness evoke any thoughts of raving, it’s the aftermath: cold and empty concrete rooms, gray sunlight, and a beautiful sense of disconnection. Pretty much how January 1st is going to feel…
Electronic Beats Readers’ Poll 2012 — Best Album:
1. Grimes – Visions (4AD)
2. Holy Other – Held (Tri Angle)
3. Chromatics – Kill For Love (Italians Do It Better)
4. Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes (Warp Records)
5. Crystal Castles – III (Casablanca)
6. Trust – TRST (Arts & Crafts)
7. Andy Stott – Luxury Problems (Modern Love)
8. Purity Ring – Shrines (4AD)
9. SpaceGhostPurrp – Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp (4AD)
10. Chelsea Wolfe – Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs (Sargent House)
The first prize-travel and two tickets to an EB Festival of your choice, all expenses paid—goes to Manon Monjaret from Vitry-sur-Seine, France.
Thanks for participating in our 2012 poll—and for making us a part of your 2012. You can find all the poll results here.
Published December 30, 2012. Words by Daniel Jones.