As 2014 comes to a close our music critics take a look at their Top Ten Albums of the Year. Click here for more end of the year round ups.
10. Train – Bulletproof Picasso
With departing drummer Scott Underwood leaving the band after last album California 37 (2012), Train have found a new, unrecognisable sound that left critics debating whether it’s better or worse than their old sound. It’s definitely better. Plus, despite critics naysaying, it reached number nine in the album charts this year. Despite moving further out of the rock genre and into the pop, Train keep up their superb lyric writing and infectious melodies easily worthy of creeping into the top ten.
- Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
Considering that third studio album, Ultraviolence almost never made it to the shelves because of negative criticism Lana Del Rey received, this album – which focuses on American culture, drugs, cars, money, and the bad boys she’s always falling for – isn’t as good as her first album; but still better than so many records that were released this year. Her writing is stronger and with the introduction of tremolo guitars and reverb-drenched drums, Rey manages to secure her second UK number one album, with more in store for the singer-songwriter.
- Of Mice and Men – Restoring Force
Of Mice and Men released their best studio album of their career early on this year. Since their last album The Flood (2011), the Californian metalcore band have evolved into something much greater. Simultaneously both heavier and softer than before, they do brilliantly well to balance the two nuances of the genre. Of Mice and Men manage to raise the bar for every rock band out there as Restoring Force helped them secure a sold out tour and reach 17 in the UK album chart and second in the UK rock chart.
- Bury Tomorrow – Runes
Melodic Metalcore band Bury Tomorrow released their heaviest and best album yet with critics comparing them to the early Slipknot days with their debut at the number one spot in the UK Rock chart. With frontman Dani Winter-Bates’ vocals sounding heavier and more brutal than ever, the five piece from Southampton have stepped up their game and finally made a name for themselves moving away from their last album Union of Crowns.
- Coldplay – Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories was Coldplay’s sixth studio LP and sixth number one album of their career. This is undoubtedly Coldplay’s definitive album showcasing their wide range of versatility. The familiar anthemic tunes and massive choruses are stripped down with frontman Chris Martin looking to fix himself rather than to “fix you”, following the “conscious uncoupling” of his marriage to actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Although many don’t believe this album is anywhere near the standard they used to be, I think it’s brilliant and one of their best albums yet.
- Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour
Sam Smith’s debut number one album has asserted himself as one of the best solo artists around this year. Despite many of his songs becoming overplayed, and some sounding repetitive – there’s something about this record that wouldn’t be the same without Smith’s unique voice. It was nominated best album of the year in the 57th Grammy Awards and Smith’s success of this album has left everyone wondering if the “money on (his) mind” is going to change who he is and how successful he’ll become in the future.
- George Ezra – Wanted on Voyage
2014 has seen many debutants reach number one this year, and George Ezra’s Wanted on Voyage was arguably the best. He has a lot to learn with not much experience, but the young singer-songwriter from Hertford’s bluesy voice is a scope for big things to come. Regardless of being at his best with the stripped back songs like ‘Breakaway’, Ezra’s already experimenting by heading into an exciting direction towards the end of the album – leaving fans wondering which direction the 21 year old will go next.
- Royal Blood – Royal Blood
The fastest selling British rock debut album in three years and earning a spot as UK number one album was a massive success for the rock duo who only formed a year prior to the release. It’s undeniable that for a duo to make such an uproar is scarcely heard of but the calmness of what follows head banging songs like ‘Little Monster’ is what makes Royal Blood stand out. They can change their sound and constantly turn heads. There’s something for everyone in what’s undoubtedly one of the best records released this year.
- You Me at Six – Cavalier Youth
One of the first UK number one albums of the year and a debut number one for the rock band from Surrey, You Me at Six slightly move away from the last, heavier album Sinners Never Sleep to a new calm sound that lead singer, Josh Franceschi, suits just as much. Moreover – the band come together as one, the drumming is more extreme, the riffs are stronger and after a decade of playing together, You Me at Six have almost done it all. As Francechi has said himself, all that’s left for them to do is to make more of a name for themselves in America. They certainly have the back catalogue and experience to make an impression.
- Ed Sheeran – X
Keeping his penchant for touching subjects and the anthemic tracks has not only lead to a second number one album, but also to the ginger haired songwriter making the best record, not only this year, but possibly of the last decade. Sheeran pushes boundaries, writes beautifully and ultimately sets a high standard that his next album may be hard to beat. The ballads and romantic affliction Sheeran sings about in number one hit songs like “Thinking out Loud” earns him the respect he deserves and now a headline show at Wembley Stadium. Ed Sheeran may come across as whiney, but no one can deny that it works. X is by far the best album released this year.
Did we miss your favourite? Comment below! And check out our other end of the year Roundups here (Including films, songs and more albums).