Here’s the extended version of the “Dulcet Tones” (i.e., melodic electronic) section of my top five, with commentary and numerous honorable mentions.
Dulcet Tones (Melodic electronic)
1. HAERTS – Wings
This unabashedly soaring, earnest and melodic synth pop simply swept me away.
2. Phantogram – Black Out Days
This. Song. Simply. Crushes. It.
3. Black Light Dinner Party – Older Together
The debut Sons and Lovers has a number of great tracks.
4. Elliphant – Down on Life
If Santigold were Swedish… Explicit — well, one single s-word word in first line, so nothing a strategic ‘sneeze’ couldn’t cover.
5. Tove Lo – Habits
More Swedish pop genius. Though the lyrics aren’t at all family-friendly and the chorus is about the escapist quality of drugs, the pop is too STRONG in this one not to play it out loud, over and over. (The ooo-oos during the chorus are reminiscent of Girls Aloud in their prime.) If you like this also check Hippie Sabatoge – Stay High (Tove Lo Flip) which uses parts of the song.
* Alt-J – Breezeblocks (NICITA remix)
The original just missed being included in my 2012 top five, so I’m partially making up for the omission by including this 2013 remix. Their debut album An Awesome Wave comes highly recommended; the original version is on the Spotify playlist.
* Baby Alpaca – Sea of Dreams
Fairly stark and haunting…involuntary contemplation. The more upbeat Turbotito remix is also worth checking out.
* Bonobo – Cirrus
Another excellent track from another excellent album by these masters of mellow
* Chrome Sparks — Send The Pain On
What can I say, I’m a huge sucker for bleepy arpeggios that invite you to close your eyes; Marijuana was the cooler, bigger hit from this EP.
* CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share
Take your pick from the surprisingly tight debut from this trio featuring a lead singer for whom the word ‘elfin’ was invented. (Recover and Gun are also standout tracks.)
* Cyril Hahn feat. Shy Girls – Perfect Form
A breathless, soulful song that owes something to the Sade-style while possessing bouncing baseline that moves the song along. My brain says no but my heart says yes.
* Flume (Feat. Isabella Manfredi) – The Greatest View
Great track that didn’t appear on his heralded full length album.
* Glasser – Shape
Unfortunately, I completely forgot about this track when I assembled the list — it really could have made the top five. This deep, swirling leadoff track from Glasser’s sophomore album had me swooning (and reminded me of Post-era Bjork).
* Ghost Loft – So High
Another completely chill track that never failed to relax.
* Hooverphonic – Norweigian Stars
An unexpected return to form from a band that released a couple quality, expansive albums in the 90s. (I still love “Inhaler.”) Bonus track: Amalfi, the leadoff from another, more guitar-driven 2013 release that I only discovered when I searched Spotify for the former song.
* Little Boots – Motorway
I’m not the first to point out the similarites between this track and the classic of the same name by Saint Etienne, but it doesn’t make me any less wrong.
* Mr Little Jeans – Runaway
Another driving 2012 track I only discovered because I came across their throbbing, twisting cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” — itself dating from 2011.
* MS MR – Ash Tree Lane
Not sure what I think of the trend toward CPTL LTRS WTHT VWLS for all new band names, but I know I like this tune, as well as the album’s quintessential leadoff track Hurricane.
* Phosphorescent – Song for Zula
A calmly upbeat track with vocals that remind me a little of a young Bruce Springsteen. (Early U2 is also cited.)
* Say Lou Lou — Julian
More breathless synth pop of above-average quality. If you fancy a “ballade de fromage” instead try Beloved.
* Small Black – Breathless
I was a big fan of the album Limits of Desire that featured this pulsating track, and one of the more interesting cover art photos of the year.
* SOHN (or possibly S O H N) – Lessons
Very atmospheric and layered electronic music…a little tough to track down but I’m not sure I’ve heard anything by him(?) that I don’t enjoy.
* St. Lucia – Too Close
Other songs from the anticipated When The Night album stole more of the plaudits, but this gets my pick solely on the basis of its expert use of 80s keyboards and drum machine, with an Introspection-era Pet Shop Boys bridge right in the middle.
* Tennis – Timothy
2012’s Deep in the Woods was a song I couldn’t stop playing for large swaths of the year; but I went for one from their new EP. If you listen to both songs and prefer the latter, then also try Dimming Light.