From excavation to redemption, our pick of the 12 best British albums for 2013.
"Listening to the album is like going on an expedition in the Highlands, traversing the various peaks and gradients and being in awe of the sights that surround it. When you reach the highest points, it’s breathtaking." Read Dummy's full review here.
After the dissolution of his Primary 1 project, Joe Flory returned as Amateur Best, producing a pop album that felt both homemade and glossy that deserved to be embraced by a larger audience. Watch Amateur Best's exclusive live session for Dummy here.
"Giving the band a few years to release a debut album has meant that ‘Performance’ arrives not half-baked in order to capitalise on buzz but with a straightforward confidence that comes from building a reputation, honing a signature sound, reworking and revisiting material, and finding their feet both musically and geographically. The resulting record is probably the best debut from a British band this year." Read Dummy's full review here.
"Questions of communicating properly, of trimming all unnecessary aspects from the equation, of building your own structure and work environment, of creating something that’s built to last, were swirling around Blake’s head during the making of ‘Overgrown’, and fittingly they’re all themes that permeate the record itself." Read Dummy's interview with James Blake here.
"‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’ is the work of a group who have learned to relax into their instincts and find joy in the places it takes them. It’s not a case of risk-taking but of open-mindedness and it’s that sense of freedom that strikes the most about the record." Read Dummy's interview with Mount Kimbie here.
"More of a dusting off than a sanding down, Forest Swords’ debut sees Barnes step into clearer territory with a sound still with unique ties to space and place." Read Dummy's full review here.
"‘News From Nowhere’ is the calm after the dark synth pop storm of their debut, ‘North’; the lullabies after the war cries; the desire for micro after macro." Read Dummy's interview with Darkstar here.
"‘Blue Gardens’ is an unusual album, but it’s certainly not obtuse or inaccessible. It’s good to hear a bewildering record that elicits an uncertain reaction rather than a staid, predictable genre exercise, especially when it seems to just drop out of the (ahem) blue like this." Read Dummy's full review here.
"Capturing the sanitised weirdness of the itinerant existence of a touring performer, particularly when that performer works in electronics, ‘Aerotropolis’ is as synthetic a record as they come because there’s nothing natural about Abdel-Hamid’s sound." Read Dummy's full review here.
"‘The Redeemer’ doesn’t express a lot of feelings but it invites you feel along with it...this is some of Blunt’s most listenable, most human and most elegantly orchestrated work." Read Dummy's full review here.
"It’s a sound built in isolation, like opening up a notebook of personal scribbles and sketches. But – as with the minimalist cover – it’s the way those reflections are cast out into a limitless landscape, with closeness and distance interweaving throughout, which makes ‘Life After Defo’ such a triumph." Read Dummy's full review here.
"What ‘Excavation’ looks to remind us of is that these complexities in lightness and darkness – of muddled states of hope and despair – are frequently more connected than they might first appear. Without the additional tones and shades that enter late on it’s possible the album could get lost in its own pitch-black menace – but with them, ‘Excavation’ becomes a journey really worth staying with." Read Dummy's full review here.
At 5.30pm tomorrow (September 11th), the shortlist for nominations for the annual Mercury Prize will be announced, with a panel of industry types selecting the 12 albums that they feel represent the best that Britain has had to offer from the past 12 months, with one of these albums finally being picked to win the coveted award. We aren't going to sit here and debate the worthiness of the prize or the nominations when they do come in, but instead we're choosing the albums that we think deserve to be in with a shot of winning.
Our criteria for inclusion is simple - like the actual Mercury shortlist, we've chosen 12 albums made by British passport holders that were released between September 11th 2012 and September 9th 2013 that we think are the best that the UK has to offer. We don't want to call this an "alternative" Mercury list, because we're hoping that some of these albums will be on the final, real shortlist. Fingers firmly crossed.