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.

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Mumford & Sons, 'Babel'

11. Mumford & Sons, 'Babel'

The biggest little string band on the planet followed the surprise pop success of 2010's Sigh No More with a bigger, bolder set of folk revival jams. Babel is an arena-size strumfest, pumping barn-raising choruses into the U2 stratosphere. Marcus Mumford rains down Bible-thumping doom like a Puritan divine, giving his evocations of love, guilt and longing an epic sense of historical weight and moral drama: "The pull on my flesh was just too strong," he sings on the fallen-soul's lament "Broken Crown." His bone-deep sincerity is pretty strong, too.

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