Woah, where’s the time gone? We’re a quarter of the way through 2014 and what a year for music it’s already been. Let’s count down 30 of the greatest albums NME saw fit to award 8 or above so far this year, shall we? Go on then. Kicking us off are Warpaint, who scored a 9 for their dazzling self-titled second full-length.
East India Youth ‘Total Strife Forever’
William Doyle one a 8/10 rating for his one-man-electronic-band debut under the guise of East India Youth. Phil Hebblethwaite wrote: “It’s well executed, quite odd, highly original and full of promise – exactly what you want from a debut album.”
LA experimentalists Liars delivered haywire disco-punk on their seventh studio album. Ben Hewitt wrote of the album: “it’s downright discombobulating – but as Liars continue to show, comfort zones only exist as refuges for the unimaginative.”
This bleak, beautiful fourth album from South London’s Actress “blows dance genre conventions apart” wrote Kate Hutchinson. “’Ghettoville’ is an exciting new landscape to get lost in and explore.”
Temples ‘Sun Structures’
Kettering psych revivalists Temples delivered a intoxicating triumph of a debut album with ‘Sun Structures’. Mark Beaumont had this to say: “Temples are clearly the lizard kings of the new psychedelia… ‘Sun Structures’ is as solid as they come.”
Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band ‘Artorius Revisited’
Seven years in the making, the labour that went into ‘Artorius Revisited’ definitely paid off for this Liverpool songwriter and his band. “You’re in the presence of a man whose talent is so luminous, all the bad luck in the world has been unable to dim it,” wrote Barry Nicolson
Communions ‘Cobblestones EP’
A strong 8/10 review for scuzzy Danish newcomers Communions and their debut EP ‘Cobblestones’ from NME’s Louis Pattison: “they capture hearts with their prickly punk angst… there’s been a bandwagon revved and ready to ride.”
Sun Kil Moon ‘Benji’
‘Benji’, the sixth studio album from ex-Red House Painter Mark Kozelek as surreal folk storyteller Sun Kil Moon “is as magical as an old dog suddenly performing card tricks,” wrote Kevin EG Perry.
St Vincent ‘St Vincent’
Annie Clark found strength in her own forthright freakishness on her powerful, direct fourth album, argued NME’s Hazel Sheffield. “Clark’s readiness to be freakish and alone has translated into her song writing, which is bolder than ever, and out to connect,” she wrote.
Beck ‘Morning Phase’
“It couples a moody sort of glamour with a concrete feeling of loneliness, and it makes for some of the most affecting comedown folk you’re likely to hear all year,” wrote Leonie Cooper of Beck’s 12th album, awarding it a healthy 8.
Neneh Cherry ‘Blank Project’
Pop pioneer Neneh Cherry released her first solo album in 16 years earlier this year. Angus Batey commented on its fearlessness: “this new music sounds fresh, vibrant and effortless. Let’s hope it’s not another 16 years before the next one.”
The Notwist ‘Close To The Glass’
Bavarian art-rockers The Notwist wove metal and indie on their accomplished eighth studio album. “They remain accessible and affecting throughout, in large part thanks to Markus Acher, whos voice is a thing of cracked, melancholy soul,” wrote Mischa Pearlman.
Real Estate ‘Atlas’
On their wistful second album, New Jersey’s Atlas step into the future without forgetting their roots. “’Atlas’ doesn’t stray too far from the old template but everything’s better – melodies, production, focus – as Real Estate pinpoint what got them here and identify where they want to go next,” wrote Matthew Horton.
Willis Earl Beal ‘A Place That Doesn’t Exist’
Willis Earl Beal shocked the music world with this unexpected self-release just four months after his last album, ‘Nobody Knows’. Phil Hebblethwaite lauded the outsider’s “mix of satire and sweetness.”
Coil/Nine Inch Nails ‘Recoiled’
“These lengthier interpretations are a welcome find,” wrote Stuart Hugget of Coil and engineer Danny Hyde’s recently unearthed collection of smouldering NIN remixes.
Mutual Benefit ‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’
Jordan Lee’s debut beautifully detailed the pains of heartbreak, winning her a well-deserved 9/10 in the process. “Lee’s lyrics are sentimental and logical for a situation where love and pain have become so overwhelming that simple statements seem the most trustworthy,” wrote Laura Snapes.
“Being fucked has seldom sounded so life-affirming,” wrote Ben Hewitt of the Yorkshire rippers’ self-titled debut, tackling “drugs, depression and deformity from the point of view of four Leeds scowlers’ stuck in nine to fives and hating it.”
Metronomy ‘Love Letters’
Metronomy’s fourth album saw Joe Mount delve into his innermost emotions to deliver, in the words of NME’s Barry Nicolson, “not a ‘difficult’ album per se, [but] certainly an obdurate and insular one, whose charms are revealed coyly and across repeat listens.”
Atlanta’s Ben Asbury indulged in dreamy guitar pop and big ideas that Louis Pattison described as “thoughtful, expansive” and though “rather too lush and developed to pass as lo-fi, it captures that genre’s spirit of invention and self-actualisation.”
Black Lips ‘Underneath The Rainbow’
Atlanta terrors the Black Lips’ gracefully unhinged seventh album was rated 8/10 by NME’s Mischa Pearlman. “Black Lips’ spirit is as bright and brilliant as ever,” he enthused.
Sky Ferreira ‘Night Time My Time’
It took a long time to see the light of day, after a lengthy tussle with her label, but the pop rebel’s brilliant debut was well worth the wait, wrote Laura Snapes. “More remarkable than ‘Night Time…’’s hard-won release is how brilliantly universal it is without sacrificing any of its weirdness.”
Freddy Gibbs & Madlib ‘Pinata’
NME writer Ben Cardew gave this rap-jazz curio a solid 8/10. “On record, Gibbs’ coarsely inventive flow works perfectly with Madlib’s imperfectly human beats,” he wrote.
Perfect Pussy ‘Say Yes To Love’
New York punks Perfect Pussy plied their highly anticipated debut album ‘Say Yes To Love’ with snarly underground attitude and hardcore influences aplenty, wrote NME’s Hayley Avron: “Melodies are buried alive under a tonne of aural dirt, delivered in frequencies that hurt your organs.”
Howler ‘World of Joy’
Howler’s follow-up album to ‘America Give Up’ is “bigger, faster, smarter and stronger,” wrote Barry Nicolson in March. “Tearing through its 10 songs in a shade under 28 minutes, ‘World Of Joy’ sounds like a band straining themselves to top a personal best. Happily, they’ve managed it.”
Future Islands ‘Singles’
Baltimore trio Future Islands’ stunning ‘Singles’ arouses disaster and delight, wrote John Calvert, who applauded the band on providing “the finest indie-synth tearjerkers since Beach House.”
Timber Timbre ‘Hot Dreams’
“Few artists could manage a trajectory as fine-tuned as Timber Timbre” wrote Cian Traynor of the Timber Timbre’s latest, which was “distinctly film noir, delivered wonderfully cohesively.”
Angel Olsen ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’
The Missouri-born singer managed to turn her emotional struggles into a positive success on her second album. Laura Snapes wrote: “The sublime ‘Burn…’ is testament that Olsen’s philosophy of self-belief pays off.”
Wild Beasts ‘Present Tense’
Four albums in, the Clapton crew’s vibrant musical imaginations went into overdrive, creating “an LP that feels more in sync with contemporary music than ever before,” according to NME’s Ben Hewitt. “They’ve widened their search, rooted around in the present and found something unbelievably precious.”
The War On Drugs ‘Lost In The Dream’
With their 70s-ish third studio album, Kurt Vile’s old band delivered “the very best kind of Americana road-trip record,” said Leonie Cooper. “Often overshadowed by their previous success, War On Drugs have written an album far bigger then anyone could have expected.”
Coves ‘Soft Friday’
Finally, we arrive at ‘Soft Friday’, Leamington duo Coves’ astounding debut album, colliding “the scuzz-rock stomp of The Kills, enchanting allure of Nico and the garage fuzz of The Velvet Underground,” according to Rhian Daly. “It’s an enticing combination where tales of heartbreak meet powerful music.”