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50Ghost Train

Mystique is mostly missing from music these days, so the Summer Camp concept was beautifully designed. When this London duo harnessed the internet to broadcast their music but not their identities, the gossip grew as clamorous as the critical acclaim. Such expert buzz generation was the stuff of an NME journalist’s dreams – literally, in this case. Elizabeth Sankey, a contributor, turned out to be Summer Camp’s honey-toned chanteuse, while lo-fi troubadour Jeremy Warmsley – her beau – was the crafter of their woozy electro-pop. With ‘Ghost Train’ they emerged from the shadows with a deceptively complex love song, in which breezy melodies belied a vaguely edgy, narcotic atmosphere. It established the trademark: sentimentality and paranoia in equal measure, amid two contradictory impulses – nostalgia for classic ’60s pop, and enthusiasm for gadgetry. A retro band for 2.0 people? Call it mystique.

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49Sleep Forever

Prop 19 may not have passed into law, but so long as Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez keep making dreamy narco-pop of this calibre, California is in no danger of relinquishing its status as the stoner capital of the United States. Emboldened by James Ford’s shimmering production, this was the moment Crocodiles – almost in spite of themselves – got anthemic.

Crocodiles - 'Sleep Forever'
Video: Crocodiles - 'Sleep Forever'


A hymnal, insidious creep of vocals and strings building with unbearably precise tension before releasing with whiplash ferocity into a deranged maenad stomp, ‘Scissor’ was the dark “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” gateway into ‘Sisterworld’, Liars’ finest album yet. Its horrific tale of finding a dying woman in a car park, stripped to elemental detail and seething with fear and blood, was matched by the creepiness of the video, in which Angus Andrew finds himself adrift at sea and plagued by killer rocks...

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Emily Mackay

Liars - 'Scissor' Video Exclusive
Video: Liars - 'Scissor' Video Exclusive

47Dreaming Of Another World

A songwriting masterclass here from the Twickenham boys. The moment Will Rees hit that triumphant top note in the chorus was the moment when Mystery Jets were confirmed as heirs to a legacy of eccentric British pop songwriting defined by The Kinks, Squeeze and Blur. A Number One hit in a better world. SR

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Mystery Jets - 'Dreaming Of Another World'
Video: Mystery Jets - 'Dreaming Of Another World'

46Round And Round

Together with Gayngs and Kisses, former lo-fi excavator Ariel Marcus Rosenberg helped turn 2010 butter-smooth. This, the first song off his 4AD debut, has a lazy sax swagger to it that reeks of bad moustaches and funny dancing, and one day, when we’ve saved up for that yacht, will soundtrack our escape into the horizon…

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45(It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love

If ‘The Intense Humming Of Evil’ is your favourite Manics song, their gleaming reinvention in 2010 probably left you cold. But if you loved the anthemic quality of ‘Everything Must Go’, the lead single from ‘Postcards...’ was a goosebump-raising nostalgia-bomb, its cascading strings and radio-ready chorus serving notice that Nicky Wire and co intended to rage against the dying of the light.

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Manic Street Preachers - '(It's Not War) Just The End Of Love'
Video: Manic Street Preachers - '(It's Not War) Just The End Of Love'


Frankly, Simon Neil could sing his Tesco shopping list or extracts from the Thomson Local in that gruff, gorgeous Scots brogue and it’d sound like angels from upon high. Yet even he excelled himself with the heroic ‘Bubbles’, which is basically three awesome songs for the price of one: perky punk-popper; anthemic stadium banger; and emo jam-out. Bargain! ’Mon the Biff, indeed.

Biffy Clyro - 'Bubbles' Video Promo Exclusive
Video: Biffy Clyro - 'Bubbles' Video Promo Exclusive


A nursery rhyme sung by a man who has stared into the abyss of his Nietzsche textbooks once too often, ‘Constellations’ wore its bruised, isolated cosmic wonder with brilliant simplicity. Every time you think The Strokes are culturally spent, someone else tweaks their insights into fresh focus.

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Darwin Deez - 'Constellations' Music Video
Video: Darwin Deez - 'Constellations' Music Video

42Dancing On My Own

Songs about DJs and dancing have always been the most euphoric of them all, so it stands to reason that a song about feeling a bit emo in those circumstances, the inverse would apply. So it was with Ms Carlsson’s totemic comeback, which turned her now trademark emotional disco button-pushing up to the ultimate degree. Sad and staggering.

Robyn - 'Dancing On My Own'
Video: Robyn - 'Dancing On My Own'

41This Orient

Saying “I love you” to someone in oriental languages is a minefield of propriety and playfulness, and when Yannis sings, “It’s your heart that gives me this Western feeling”, seemingly, that’s what he’s on about – that ineffable state which transcends all linguistic rule. As one of ‘Total Life Forever’’s less fraught moments, ‘This Orient’ is pure warmth, the likes of which rarely emanates from Foals’ torrid tickers.

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Foals - 'This Orient' Video Exclusive
Video: Foals - 'This Orient' Video Exclusive

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