The best albums of 2011

Time Out's music team nominate their favourite albums of 2011

  • 1

    ‘Let England Shake’ - PJ Harvey

    The country’s most distinctive and consistently adventurous singer-songwriter turned her attention to England’s bloody history, conflicted identity and uncertain future, forging a very modern kind of folk music in the process.

    Listen to this album on Spotify
  • 2


    After a brace of killer remixes Aaron Jerome’s debut as SBTRKT is a plateful of awesome guests including Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, rising star Jessie Ware and long-term collaborator Sampha, whose velvety tones give this polished collection some serious soul. Future-pop excellence.

    Listen to this album on Spotify
  • 3

    ‘21’ - Adele

    Adele Atkins bestrode the globe like Optimus Prime, although with an old school soul-belter of a voice and an assured knack for songwriting which the popular Autobot is sorely lacking.

  • 4

    ‘Bad As Me’ - Tom Waits

    Easily the gravelly voiced godhead’s best work since ‘Bone Machine’ and a comparative laff riot by his standards. This sprawling romp across genre borders is infectiously enthusiastic and, dare we say it, almost poppy.

  • 5

    ‘The English Riviera’ - Metronomy

    It was the moment that Joseph Mount went mainstream – with a Mercury Music Prize nomination – and about time too. His third album, a love letter to the Devon coastline, is expertly crafted – inventive instrumentation, groovy basslines, and surprising yet memorable melodies. With ‘The Bay’ at the record’s pinnacle, this is Metronomy in high-def: widescreen, wonderful.

    Listen to this album on Spotify
  • 6

    ‘Black Up’ - Shabazz Palaces

    Traditionally, Sub Pop don’t release hip hop. But then, neither does hip hop usually dip its brush into a madcap sonic palette of ragtime, West African rhythms, juddering digibass, grinding horrorshow beats and shimmering soul horns. Add in the oblique, rhyme-light raps and this is one hell of an abstract sonic adventure.

  • 7

    ‘Rome’ - Danger Mouse & Daniele Luippi

    The ‘soundtrack to an imaginary film’ concept reaches its apex with this under-radar concept album featuring vocal contributions from Jack White and a shockingly animated Norah Jones.

    Listen to this album on Spotify
  • 8

    ‘On A Mission’ - Katy B

    The diamond brilliant melodies of ‘Lights On’ and ‘Katy on a Mission’ have already taken digi-futurism to the pop masses. But Ms B’s encore was even better: jazzy double bass grooves, bruising crack house, punchy rave-pop and horn-strafed organ funk. Yowzer.

    Listen to this album on Spotify
  • 9

    ‘D’ - White Denim

    The Texan quartet’s latest was a wild and carousing, physically exuberant but terrifyingly tight-focused ride through blues, prog, acid rock, country, jazz fusion, folk, punk metal and more. It’s playful, but awesomely pro. It’s experimental but has grooves. It’s pretty much perfect.

    Listen to this album on Spotify
  • 10

    ‘Biophilia’ - Bjork

    Just about barely qualifying as an album, considering its quantum superposition as a suite of apps, four-dimensional live experience and sprawling pseudo-scientific experiment, ‘Biophilia’ is one of the year’s most ambitious outings.

    Listen to this album on Spotify