Gorgeous harmonies, harrowing strings, charming accents, and the true story of Patience Kershaw, a child who spoke to Lord Ashley’s Mines Commission of 1842, which looked into child-labor conditions in coal mines and found that they sucked.
I put this on repeat for most of the year - I still get shivers at the first harmony at the one-minute mark.
2. Free Energy - Free Energy
Like MGMT's "Time to Pretend" last year, Free Energy has this year's greatest call to arms and mission statement:
"We're gonna start a new life, see how it goes/before we're tired and too slow!"
3. The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
The best drumming of the year meets the best baritone singing the most-bonkers ("bonkersest!") lyrics: something about being carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees.
4. Robyn - Dancing on My Own
The dance song about sulking in the corner at the disco while the person you love parties it up. It's like I have a twin!
5. Steel Train - Bullet
This sounds like 1,000 other songs - most from the 80s - but I'm powerless to resist; last year was all about catching myself singing, "Whooooooah-oh-oh-oh!" at the top of my lungs in public.
6. Runner Runner - So Obvious
It's so obvious that a band named Runner Runner that yells "Go!" at the 12-second mark is onto something good. Pure power pop sugar rush. I'm going - just stop shouting at me!
7. Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill
The best Britpop of the year, sung by Damon Albarn and mercifully free of the "guest stars" who basically ruined the rest of Gorillaz third album.
I want to live on Melancholy Hill - you can keep my things, they've come to take me home!
8. Divine Comedy - The Complete Banker
Nothing beats the recessionary blues more than a bouncy pop song that explains the financial crisis from the bankers' perspective:
"So I caused the second great depression - what can I say? I guess I got a bit carried away. If I say I'm sorry will you give me the money?"The world needs more angry, tongue-in-cheek pop songs namechecking Margaret Thatcher.
9. Field Music - Them That Do Nothing
Channeling the spirit of the Beatles and XTC over a throbbing bassline, acoustic guitar, and handclaps. Cheers!
10. Magnetic Fields - You Must Be Out of Your Mind
Think of your least-favorite person on Earth, then play this song. Ahhhh, feels better already, eh?
Best line of the year (at 26 seconds):
"I want you crawling back to me/down on your knees, yeah/like an apendectomy, sans anesthesia."