NPR

Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2012

Japandroids' music celebrates the joy of a life lived loudly. (Courtesy of the artist)

The caveats practically write themselves at this point: Top 10 lists are subjective and inherently insufficient to sum up any given year in music. They capture the opinions of one person and one person only — think "favorite," not "best" — and are bound to reflect not only individual tastes, but also individual experiences over the course of a given year.

That said, it was a tremendous 12 months for upbeat music that reflected on aging and ennui in wise and wonderful ways. Japandroids and Spiritualized wouldn't seem like thematic cousins, but both thumbed their nose at mortality while celebrating hugeness. Best Coast dispensed a few sweet summer anthems, yet also took on depression by dragging it out into the sunlight, and Frank Ocean viewed troubled romance from every angle on what may well be 2012's most widely loved and agreed-upon album. Oh, and three of the year's very best songs wound up in Windows 8 commercials. What's with that?

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