In no particular order:
Strange House – the Horrors
Excellent hammond-organ-and-grinding-guitar driven gothic pastiche of garage rock that starts with a cover of “Jack The Ripper” just to let you know that they know that you know. A vibrant, literate and surprisingly affecting wild ride of an album that, like all the best Goth, lets you in on the joke.
CSS – CSS
A sexy, mischievous energy and a love of American New Wave and 80s pop make for Brazil’s coolest export since Sergio Mendez. Fun, infectious, and liberated/ing.
Mantaray – Siouxsie
Free from the weight of the history of her previous bands, Siouxsie survives her transformation into an “artist” in the “content industry” with dignity intact and voice better than ever. She deserves better backing but this is still an excellent album. Find the videos “leaked” on YouTube and catch her live next year.
Fur And Gold – Bat For Lashes
A wonderful continuation of the English tradition of fey, visionary, referentially open popular music that starts with a harpsichord riff and goes on from there. “Prescilla” is my favourite song of the year.
The Imagined Village – The Imagined Village
If a camel is a horse designed by committee then The Imagined Village is Bat For Lashes delivered late and over budget by a PFI conglomerate.
Prinzhorn Dance School – Prinzhorn Dance School
Sadly for an art school joke band, “The Horn” have some good songs and an often melancholy vibe that distracts from the important stuff like them making their own teapots. A slow, disquieting, stripped down, bassy, indie rock sound.
Sighs Trapped By Liars – The Red Krayola with Art & Language
The American rockers and the English conceptual artists team up for an album with a very contemporary-sounding retro psychedelia and cool rock feel and a pair of female vocalists mirroring the pair of male lyricists. The songs are about Rimbaud, the editors of October, Samuel Beckett, various economic idiocies and several artworks by Art & Language. They are understated, savage, and very successful both as left-field music and left-wing art.
We Are All Pan’s People – The Focus Group
More of the excellent same from one of Ghost Box Records’s stable of English retro-electro outfits. Analogue synths mashed up with library albums of spoken word and incidental music tracks underwitten by the brooding feel of a countryside that is more Summerisle than Ambridge.
An End Has A Start – Editors
If Coldplay’s management had told them to try to sound more like Joy Division this would have been the result. Near-empty stadia await.
Our Love To Admire – Interpol
No, you can’t be the next Coldplay either. Not yours. What happened to the band that produced “Turn On The Bright Lights”?
War Stories – UNKLE
Heavy, rocky, gothy, post-Trip Hop dirty beats from UNKLE. Forget the insipid electronica of their second album and enjoy the sonic attack of this affecting and danceable return to form.
Myths Of The Near Future – Klaxons
Dance opportunism from some very well-read indie boys but who cares when it sounds this good? “Atlantis To Interzone” is a classic and if they can avoid going prog rock then great things await them.
OK, what did I miss?