There were several Decent Efforts this year, if not quite downright classics. Blondes nearly edged into the top echelon with their self-titled debut album – a subtly restrained take on house music with an ‘indie’ aesthetic. Mark McGuire (my undisputed champion of 2011) released two collaboration LPs – Inner Tube (with Spencer Clark), which is 80s-inspired surf rock, slightly let down by what sounds to me like bargain-basement production (this may or may not be on purpose) and Certain Circumstances, which is rather more abstract with live drumming by Nate Scheible. Lindstrøm made amends for the bewildering Six Cups of Rebel by releasing six crystalline cuts of Nordic space disco in Smalhans. The palette is limited, so the short length (just six tracks) is welcome, all euphoric synths and syncopated joy. Orbital exceeded expectations (after bowing out with a whimper in 2004 with the Blue Album) with Wonky – as ‘pop’ as they have ever sounded, but with substance, too. Lotus Plaza (guitarist with Deerhunter)’s Spooky Action From A Distance was full of good tunes and a pleasingly consistent gauzy, jangly style but sounded too much within his comfort zone to truly stand out. Kuedo’s Severant (2011) sounded both ancient and modern at the same time – synths that remind me of science-fiction cartoons in the eighties with beats that are unmistakably teens (gosh that looks odd written like that!). Motion Sickness Of Time Travel produced the sort of classic ambient album that doesn’t come around often – four tracks, each over twenty minutes long, spread over two discs. Yppah’s Eighty One was all widescreen stratospheric electronica and crisp breaks, and Luke Abbott’s Holkham Drones (2010) paired (label) Border Community’s trademark shuffling, robotic beats with layers of chunky synths.

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