Does anyone even buy albums any more, in the age of one-click, one-song downloads? The industry is clearly hoping that they do, because your rock and pop critic's in-tray for the first few months of the year is as packed as it has ever been in January.
Next week alone sees two major releases getting their bids in early for our love and our lucre. Everything Everything attempt to build on the acclaim (and Ivor Novello and Mercury Prize nominations) for their debut, Man Alive, with its follow-up, Arc, on 14 Jan. The same week, Villagers release Awayland, the successor to their similarly award-nominated debut Becoming a Jackal.
The following week, returning 1980s icon Adam Ant finally delivers the album many thought would never come, with his cumbersomely titled Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter.
Speaking of album titles, the year may be young but there's unlikely to be a worse one than Ron Sexsmith's effort, Forever Endeavour, released in early February. He isn't even the first to employ that groansome pun: two metal bands have already used it.
Listeners who were unsettled by a certain Australian legend's reversion to animalistic aggression with Grinderman will be pleased to know that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have returned to placid, contemplative mode for Push the Sky Away, released in late February.
Speaking of beanpoles in ill-fitting suits, it has been rumoured that Pulp's return to the spotlight will result in the band recording new material, having given away a rather fantastic free song to fans on Christmas Eve ("After All", an old unfinished number knocked into shape with the help of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy). Whether or not that happens, a live album, Party Clowns, will be released in February. Recorded in July 1991 at London's Town & Country Club for a Central Television/NME "Class of '91" event and featuring such classics as "Babies", "My Legendary Girlfriend" and "Countdown", it's a reminder of the days when giving Pulp a bunk-up into the spotlight was a cause célèbre for their cheerleaders.
An indie hero of a similar vintage, the former Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins releases Understated in late March. The fact that a new Edwyn Collins album isn't in itself a headline-making prospect is, in a strange way, heartening evidence of his progress back to good health.
Beyond that, all is speculation. Suede, having previewed several new songs at recent shows, will surely fashion them into an actual album at some point in 2013. Prince, having reminded everyone why they loved him in the first place with the distinctly 1984-flavoured "Rock'N'Roll Love Affair", will hopefully follow it with an album which isn't given away free with a tabloid newspaper, and which has more than one or two decent songs on it.
Future-soul genius Janelle Monae promised two new albums in 2012 to follow her sublime The ArchAndroid (Suites II And III), but delivered precisely none. Now, with her profile raised by a guest spot on Fun's smash "We are Young", the stakes are as high as the anticipation. Surely she'll bring out at least one release this year? We can but dream.Reuse content