Music Review: Five must-listen albums of 2012

Jennifer Suh, Assistant Campus Editor

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During the second half of 2012, many musicians returned with highly anticipated new albums. Although there were a lot of high-quality releases last year, here is a list of five albums that you should not have missed.

Ellie Goulding

After the huge success of her chart-topping single “Lights,” British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding released her second album “Halcyon.” Her singles “Anything Could Happen” and “Figure 8” show how much her sound has matured and evolved from her previous radio hits, such as “Lights” or “Starry Eyed.” Aside from “I Need Your Love,” which features Calvin Harris, the new songs are generally much slower and darker, but Goulding’s uniquely airy vocals remain the same. Goulding will play Jan. 29 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago as part of her U.S. tour.

Icona Pop

Swedish synthpop artist Icona Pop has finally released an EP, “The Iconic,” in the U.S.  The track “I Love It” in particular has received good reviews from numerous critics. Rolling Stone has named it one of the “50 Best Songs in 2012.” Benefiting from the same producer who works with fellow Swedish pop singer Robyn, this song successfully portrays the spirit of this young duo: As a refrain, they sing “I don’t care/I love it.” Because all the tracks are fun, pump-up dance music but under four minutes, this EP heightens expectations for their full-length album.

Muse

British rock band Muse released its sixth studio album, “The 2nd Law,” which is self-described as the most experimental album yet. This album shows musical influences ranging from Queen to Skrillex. Although vocalist and guitarist Matt Bellamy is the main songwriter, this album has two tracks written and sung by  bassist Chris Wolstenholme for the first time. In the tracks  “Liquid State” and “Save Me,” he discusses his experience of overcoming alcoholism. Moreover, because this is the first album the band has released since Bellamy became a father, he included a song about his son, “Follow Me,” which became Muse’s third single. As this trio begins its North American tour early this year, they will play March 4 at the United Center in Chicago.

Of Monsters and Men

Garoabaer-based band Of Monsters and Men has put Icelandic music on the international stage with its hit single “Little Talks.” Then, last April, they released their debut album “My Head Is An Animal,” in the U.S. Different from “Little Talks,” which is fast-paced and decorated with festive instrumentals, most of their tracks are slow and mellow. Nonetheless, delightfully beautiful instrumentals and the two lead vocalists’ pleasantly harmonious performances are truly remarkable throughout the album.

Two Door Cinema Club

After touring around the world nonstop since the release of their debut album “Tourist History,” Northern Irish rock band Two Door Cinema Club released their sophomore album, “Beacon.” Similar to their previous album, the 11 new tracks are consistently cheerful and danceable. Their singles “Sleep Alone” and “Sun” have all the components that made up their previous hits: colorful guitar riffs, elaborate drum beats and Alex Trimble’s distinctively soft and high-pitched vocals. If you really liked “Sleep Alone,” check out the single’s remix by French duo BeatauCue.

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