10. The Chemical Brothers – Further [Parlophone]
Mantra-like tracks expand over meticulously thought out beats, with hardly any songs able to be classified as ‘bangers.’ It’s a strange move for the Chemmies, who now seemingly prefer patient meanderings over obvious hooks. Does it work? Post-listen, a better question would be: what the fuck?
9. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) [Universal Motown]
An album born from the right side of the brain, this rare analogue wonder grooves under Badu’s oft elliptical lyrical style. So damn smooth.
8. RJD2 – The Colossus [RJ’s Electrical Connections]
Twenty-ten, if anything, was the advent of the producer, and there are few finer than RJD2. Let There Be Horns is the perfect schizophrenic instrumental opener, spinning plucky Middle Eastern alongside positively phat brass.
7. The Reign of Kindo – This Is What Happens [Candyrat Records]
What sounds like a ridiculous sequel to some sort of hilarious Yoshi strap-off is actually a damn fine record. The musicianship is calculated, the melodies heart-warming and the songs can vary from King Crimson-esque berserk-outs to smooth jazz respites – sometimes within the breadth of a single song.
6. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager [GOOD Music/Island]
The single most claustrophobic clusterfuck of an album this year. The intensity doesn’t let up, never quite bubbling but always seething; the musical equivalent to someone breathing down your neck. Cudi’s semi-melodic delivery of oft startlingly insightful lyrics is masterful. Mojo So Dope is the new So Fresh So Clean.
5. Janelle Monae –The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) [Wondaland Arts/Bad Boy]
Afro-futuristic messianic android narrative mixed with most genres under the Death Star? Oh yeah.
4. The Roots – How I Got Over [Def Jam]
Profound in a subdued way and almost delicate without the maudlin, this record is close to as real as The Roots get. When The Roots dig deep, it’s time to pay attention.
3. Four Tet – There is Love in You [Domino]
One of the best records of the year released in the first month. Unparalleled in glitchy goodness and sharing more common properties with vapour than with a humble CD, this hazy ethereal trip is confusing in the best possible way.
2. Tipper – Broken Soul Jamboree [Tippermusic]
Alongside truly masterful production and obsessive compulsive attention to minute detail, UK producer Tipper brings forth timing changes and fingerprint unique eclecticism, weaving a speechless tale between synthetic webs of intrigue. There is deep emotion here, the kind of stuff that rebukes those who still believe that “computer music isn’t real music.”
1. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach [Parlophone/Virgin]
Just listen to it. I’ve not even read a review that does this justice, nor do I believe that any could.