Albums of the year
Heady, funny and fearless”, A Hero’s Death, the second album from Dublin five-piece Fontaines D.C., is a “maudlin and manic triumph, a horror movie shot as comedy”, said Elizabeth Nelson in Pitchfork. Recorded in LA, it is “darker” than Dogrel, their post-punky, Mercury-nominated debut, said Ben Beaumont- Thomas in The Guardian.

“Heady, funny and fearless”, A Hero’s Death, the second album from Dublin five-piece Fontaines D.C., is a “maudlin and manic triumph, a horror movie shot as comedy”, said Elizabeth Nelson in Pitchfork. Recorded in LA, it is “darker” than Dogrel, their post-punky, Mercury-nominated debut, said Ben Beaumont- Thomas in The Guardian. But with “poetry suffusing both lyrics and music”, and a title track that is “their best song yet”, this is an “exceptional” record which captures “being young in all its excitement and challenges, its confidence and despair”. It may not always be easy – “but then what great album, or life, ever is?”

Last year’s Glastonbury headliners, The Killers, remain in huge demand as a stadium act, said David Smyth in the London Evening Standard. And their sixth album, Imploding The Mirage, is “designed to thrill all the way to Block 134, Row Z”. With cameos from Canadian singer k.d. lang and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, the effect is “what you would get if U2 covered Bruce Springsteen, backed by the Electric Light Orchestra, broadcasting from a neon-lit Zeppelin hovering over Mount Rushmore”, said Neil McCormick in The Daily Telegraph. “It is not exactly subtle, but boy, does it get your attention.”

Bruce Springsteen has been playing roles in his songs for 50 years now, said Kory Grow in Rolling Stone: “down-on-their-luck working men, wide-eyed youngsters” and the like. But in his 20th album, Letter to You, the 71-year-old chooses instead to make a “surprisingly personal statement”, looking back on his own past and taking stock of “what matters to him – his life, family, art, politics and religion”. The results are “superb”, said Will Hodgkinson in The Times. Recorded in less than a week, with nine new songs and three newly unearthed “masterpieces” from the 1970s, this album “makes you feel good to be alive”.

Formed at Cambridge University, Sports Team have been slated for wearing their “middle-class upbringing and privilege” on their sleeves, said Will Richards on NME.com. But while their “furious, funny” debut, Deep Down Happy, makes “no bones about who they are” – “I wanna be a lawyer”, they wink on one track – the album has the “anthemic, unchained sound of a band aiming for the top”. Yes, there are moments of “indie landfill”, said Roisin O’Connor in The Independent. “But ultimately the charm and unpredictability of their vignettes see them through.”