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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Passion Pit, 'Gossamer'

39. Passion Pit, 'Gossamer'

No one does soulful Eighties-style synth-cheese better than Michael Angelakos. Passion Pit's second record is shinier, busier and even more hysterically earnest than their debut: Angelakos' falsetto ricochets like laser light, chipper gals coo smoke-machine choruses amid hot electronics and cool string arrangements. Yet the pop spectacle is haunted by disaster – economic ("Take a Walk"), romantic ("I'll Be Alright") or both ("Love Is Greed") – culminating in a boffo suicide meditation. It's high-end dance rock as John Updike might have it.

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