50 Best Albums of 2012

Frank Ocean reimagined R&B; Dylan drenched us in blood; pop-punk vets, disco orchestras and Scottish oddballs made an election year bearable.

Dirty Projectors, 'Swing Lo Magellan'

50. Dirty Projectors, 'Swing Lo Magellan'

This album takes its name from the Portuguese mariner who was the first to circumnavigate the Earth, and why not? David Longstreth stuffs a whole lot of musical exploration into his three-minute songs. While nominally more "pop" than 2009's Bitte Orca, Swing Lo packs in wild twists and turns: power chords set against shifting meters; psychedelic dissonances that nod to Jimi Hendrix and Béla Bartók; loads of mind-bending harmony vocals. "I boogie down gargoyle streets," croons Longstreth. It's worth following him, wherever he goes.