2009 was the year the world and his wife went pop, and the music press seemed obsessed with the sudden deluge of electro-poppers that emerged at the start of the year; many of them female, glamorous and indebted to the 80s in both sound and vision.
Yet this trend was really nothing new. This decade’s overriding trend in both pop and alternative music has been a plundering of early 80s sounds, from new romantic synth pomp to post punk angularity – remember electroclash?
So what’s the real story of 2009? Well, away from the showbiz and firework-shooting bras, there were some real surprises – The Horrors, Jack Penate, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs all confounded expectations with new directions. Fever Ray and Telepathe took synthpop for a walk on the wild side, displaying a complexity noticeably absent from their more chart-friendly contemporaries. And thanks to stunning works by Animal Collective, HEALTH and Micachu and the Shapes, we saw out the decade with music as adventurous, genre-defying and wonderfully odd as anything from another era.
So, in a year when even NME genuflected before Lady Gaga, here’s a host of releases to keep your faith in music alive. As always, get involved by voting and contributing reviews about your favourites.