1radiohead Kid A (EMI) Weird, indulgent, hyped, deferred to and probably non-essential, but really, really beautiful.
2sarah harmer You Were Here (Cold Snap/Universal)At once hopeful and heartbreaking, the album's framed by Harmer's absolutely lovely voice.
3armand van helden Killing Puritans (SPG Music)
The most electrifying dance record of the year, despite (or -- eek! -- because of) a cleverly twisted Scorpions sample on the pounding centrepiece track. Scorpions? Um, yeah. And lots more besides.
4sunny day real estate The Rising Tide (Time Bomb)The product of a reunion that fans couldn't have imagined and most people didn't care about anyway, but it's an uncommonly poignant record that makes you want to see the world through the eyes of lead singer/Jesus freak Jeremy Enigk. You can't say that every day.
5dot allison Afterglow (BMG)Singer with one-hit-wonder band, One Dove, regroups and gets cosy with her diary, which happens to be chilling, gothic and sepia-toned. Overcast Sunday mornings, meet your soundtrack.
6gus gus Vs. T--world (4AD)Swapping lyrics for supple passages of gurgling synth that sound like they were phoned in from Mars, the multi-disciplinary Icelandic crew nourish the groove without starving the imagination.
7mia sheard Reptilian (Perimeter/Universal)Eight-sided pop with kaleidoscopic lyrics of a feminist bent, delivered in a crisp mezzo and couched in dreamy production by Michael Phillip Wojewoda. You need more?8merle haggard If I Could Only Fly (Epitaph)Stripped-bare, gut-honest country so real you can smell the sawdust. Considering the album's opening salvo is "Watching while some old friends do a line/ Holding back the want to end my own addicted mind," you just know Merle's serving it straight, no chaser.9super furry animals MWNG (Flydaddy)Completely in Welsh, and therefore utterly incomprehensible, the two-disc set nevertheless captures the lads at their most confident and melodic. Why there was hype in the first place.10thievery corporation The Mirror Conspiracy (4AD)All over the map but unerringly noirish, this combination electronic/Euro/ eastern musical melting pot skates by on grooves so slick that you feel more attractive just listening to it. *
Weird, indulgent, hyped, deferred to and probably non-essential, but really, really beautiful.