The Courage of Others, Midlake
My most-played album of the year was Midlake's gorgeous paean to solitude, rusticity and the ways of the past. Soaring harmonies, ringing guitars and haunting flutes combined to evoke the sombre mood of Tarkovsky's film about Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev.
Band of Joy, Robert Plant
Another tribute to the old ways, Robert Plant's Band of Joy was suffused with the spirits of Appalachian mountain music, early rock'n'roll, delta blues and British folk traditions, ingeniously blended with the drone/trance influences which link Plant's beloved North African desert-blues with the indie-rock of Mormon trio Low.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
As overblown as his ego, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was a complex epic which found Kanye confronting his character deficiencies and celebrating his demons in some of the most flamboyantly fanciful, rococo arrangements ever attempted in hip-hop.
The Archandroid, Janelle Monae
Listening to The Archandroid was an extraordinary experience, with each track seeming to take off in a different direction, as Janelle Monae's sci-fi fantasy spread across the entire range of musical endeavour, from R&B through psychedelia, glam-rock, jazz and folk, with a few classical arrangements thrown in for good measure. An amazing talent.
The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
Less paranoid than its predecessors, The Suburbs found the band reflecting upon their adolescent dreams, and how those dreams were directed by the suburban sprawl in which they grew up – just one of several ways in which they emulate their intellectual rock forebears Talking Heads.