The best albums of 2014 – readers' picks

With one clear frontrunner and plenty of variety elsewhere, here are the top 10 albums you voted for

It’s been just over five months since The War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream was declared our readers’ favourite album of the year, and Philadelphia’s finest looked all set to secure another top spot – before four blokes from Birkenhead beat them into second place with a surprise charge. Surreal rock satirists Half Man Half Biscuit were your runaway favourites in this year’s poll, securing a huge proportion of the votes. Thank you to the hundreds of readers who sent in their submissions along with brief explanations for each choice. In a year with so much interesting music, from long-awaited returns to thrilling newer acts, picking just one record had to be tough. Now get stuck in:

1. Half Man Half Biscuit | Urge for Offal

“Witty and intelligent takes on everyday life that leave you humming the unlikeliest of tunes.” AdrianGray

“Still producing lyrics like no others. Still making me smile.” RRRich

“Acerbic wit, rousing guitar riffs and songs on the obscure, peppered with pop culture references that can seem throwaway on a first listen but that have depth. National treasures – there, I said it.” stargazerhelen

What we said: Well, nothing. But we sang their praises in 2012 and 2009.

2. The War on Drugs | Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs – Red Eyes

“Springsteen meets Lou Reed with a smattering of Dire Straits – what’s not to like?” wildone

“A really polished and emotional album. It’s been on repeat since it came out and I’m still not getting bored of it.” NickT

“If anyone had told me that a mashup of Bruce Springsteen and Kraftwerk would be my album of the year I’d have laughed at them.” sometimeflaneur

What we said: “These are impassioned songs, but they steer clear of Springsteen’s bombast or lighters-aloft choruses.”

3. St Vincent | St Vincent

St Vincent – Digital Witness

“Any artist who can insert the mundane nature of masturbating into a song without batting an eyelid must be special.” modhabobo

“Great varied but coherent collection of songs. All catchy and strange and wonderful.” manybothans

“A heady combination of perfect songwriting, performance and production. As immediately thrilling on the first listen as it remains on the 50th. More than just album of the year, St Vincent is one of the albums of the decade.” Octobadger

What we said: “St Vincent’s 40 minutes offer an embarrassment of fantastic songs.”

4. Leonard Cohen | Popular Problems

Leonard Cohen – Almost Like the Blues

“Experience meets perfection.” ID6411979

“Leonard Cohen is matchless and his poetic genius undimmed by the years.” Lesley

“He’s been around for a long long time and he still has what it takes.” Khin

What we said: “You can hear everywhere on his 13th album the rejuvenating effect of what should have spelled disaster.”

5. Run the Jewels | Run the Jewels 2

Run the Jewels – Blockbuster Night Part 1

“First year I’ve ever gone for a hip-hop album as a ‘best of the year’. It’s tuneful, aggressive and relevant. I cannot stop listening to it.” heavyplantcrossing

“It hits hard, it’s tight as hell, and inserts truth into the hip-hop industry with El-P’s production and Killer Mike’s usual powerful verses.” Joey

“More brilliant work from El-P and Killer Mike. Aggressive, political, obscene, funny. The soundtrack for the shame of Ferguson.” afwpeeps

What we said: “Their style is … a fusion – of El-P’s abrasive, experimental New York styling with Mike’s smooth, almost laconic, Atlanta flow.”

6. La Roux | Trouble in Paradise

La Roux – Kiss and Not Tell

“After a five-year wait, La Roux did not disappoint. This whole album is warm, sexy and upbeat, with so much depth.” JD1994

“A truly unique album this year. The depth of rhythms and the beaming melodies really stood out.” Deb B

“A near-perfect album that grows the more you listen. Every song could be a single, on a beautiful album that transports you to a tropical island and leaves you feeling warm inside. Plus, the songs sound even better live!” Sarah

What we said: “It sounds airy and confident and effortless.”

7. Royal Blood | Royal Blood

Royal Blood – Figure it Out

“Freshest-sounding new rock band since the Arctic Monkeys.” Adeshr

“A unique and individual sound that opened up everyone’s eyes to how good rock music can be, when performed properly. There is no song on the album that isn’t good.” Megan

“For giving us all a whole new perspective on rock and sounding as if there are four of them were there are only two. New sound.” Joe

What we said: “It’s heavy and hefty enough to crown them kings of the commercial rock scene.”

8. Slow Club | Complete Surrender

Slow Club – Everything is New

“A band growing into something bigger and more beautiful with every album. Heartbreaking lyrics and voices come together to make something very very special.” drgsfb

“The horns, the strings and that voice … Also worthwhile because its lack of twee appeared to incense a significant portion of their fan base.” mooncrooks

“It’s a brilliant collection of beautifully crafted, heartfelt songs. Rebecca and Charles’s vocals are both amazing and the album has a classic sound while still being true to Slow Club.” R5D4

What we said: “This new sense of ambition is crucial for a once-whimsical band.”

9. Aphex Twin | Syro

Aphex Twin – minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]

“The return of one of the biggest names in electronic music, after a long hiatus, it blows out of the water everything else in the genre released this year.” Bussunda

“A towering achievement to return after 13 years doing other things and still sound unmistakably like the Aphex we know and love, and yet utterly current.” stewi

“Electronic music that entertains and astounds. Genius at work.” Brendan

What we said: “Syro is still utterly engrossing and remains, somewhat unbelievably, on a completely different planet to almost anything else that’s been released over the last decade and a half.”

10. Damon Albarn | Everyday Robots

Damon Albarn – Heavy Seas of Love

“An album by a star of two decades ago who captured the essence of our times.” Thomas

“Gorgeously warm production. Nostalgic yet forward-thinking.” ID5864420

“Simply beautiful, takes me someplace blissful.” Tanyanuri

What we said: “Beautiful, but subtle, cloudy and elusive, Everyday Robots certainly isn’t the album it’s purported to be.”

Trail code


Tshepo Mokoena

The GuardianTramp

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