This is going to be a top ten list. But it's not going to be the sort of top ten list where I might praise albums by Luke Haines and PJ Harvey. In fact, I'm not going to mention them at all. I'm not even going to write one word about the three best albums of the year (see here).
Instead, I'm going to make a top ten list full of albums that I keep seeing on these end-of-year hilarities from Pitchfork and Guardian and Rolling Stone and NME who are all desperately trying to catch up with the times. I'm going to listen to these albums, too. Because fifty million people can't be wrong.
Beyonce - Lemonade
Hyped by the Guardian (and everyone else) to the point where you start thinking they could be taking the piss. And oh she's an artist all right. She also has a thousand songwriters writing songs for her. Which shouldn't really be a problem if the songs are any good, but the problem is - a thousand songwriters don't write songs. They manufacture them. Lemonade lacks substance, and "Hold Up" is all swagger and no guts. Best album of the year, etc. Rating: 3/10
The Avalanches - Wildflower
No, this was not quite as good as Since I Left You, but that's mainly because "Frankie Sinatra" is a million light years behind "Frontier Psychiatrist". Wildflower is another fantastic journey, with the kind of moody creativity I had expected. In retrospect, this was worth the wait. Rating: 8/10
The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep... (whatever)
Christ JESUS this band is awful. Somehow, this album manages to be both obnoxious and bland at the same time. Wow. Rating: 1/10
Anohni - Hopelessness
First off, I can't look at that cover for more than 2 seconds. Secondly, these lyrics are trite, second-rate bullshit. Which leaves us with the voice, which is an acquired taste, and the melodies that are spread so thin you won't see them behind the preachy pretension. I guess this one is for people who underestimate the value of decent songwriting. Rating: 3/10
Frank Ocean - Blonde
Everyone seems to be in love with this guy, but I fail to see why he is better than George Michael. Plastic, slick, 'emotional', well-produced pop for which I have zero patience. Rating: 2/10
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
I know I said it was a very good album back in the day, but in retrospect it was just better than The King of Limbs. A decent record, all things considered, and "Burn the Witch" was a single with some much needed urgency, but quite a few of these songs just bore me to tears. Rating: 6/10
Solange - A Seat At The Table
Pitchfork put it at number one! Yes, the publicity is that bad. I played it the other day, and it's... not bad. Rather lovely if you don't want much from life. Rating: 4/10
Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Pathetic. Rating: 0/10
Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
There is something intriguing about a rapper naming his album after a Joy Division song. And I have to say - this album has something to it. I like the sound, the insane vibe, the inventive spirit. Unfortunately, the voice doesn't do it for me. Which - for a hip-hop record - is vital. I can understand the praise though. Rating: none
Angel Olsen - My Woman
Angel Olsen's My Woman is so inescapably 'not great' that I wonder how anyone would dare make it part of a credible end-of-year list. Decent music. Little charisma. Standard fare. Rating: 5/10
So in a word - flabbergasting. It's either critics losing taste or myself hopelessly lagging behind. I'm actually ready to believe it's the latter. I really am.