Picks 40 to 31




    40. Lily Allen

    Alright, Still

    EMI (July 20)

    Her best song might be a cover of the Kooks’ "Na�ve," but Lily Allen’s Alright, Still features the kind of spunky charm that can quickly remind you that a guitar is not a prerequisite for a pop song. There are some duds here, but when Allen shines, on such tracks as "LDN" and "Smile," you should probably reach for some protective eyewear. ~Brian Belardi




    39. Belle & Sebastian

    The Life Pursuit

    Matador (February 7)

    If his lyrics are to be believed, Stuart Murdoch hung his boots up and retired from the disco floor nearly a decade ago. He apparently never had the heart to throw them out completely: This release sees him cutting a rug in glam, funk and sunshine-pop styles. For the pale shut-in fans of yore, there’s also classic twee laments like the gorgeous "Dress Up in You." This, the band’s best offering in what seems like ages, offers something for everyone. ~Jeff Klingman

    "Another Sunny Day"



    38. White Flight

    White Flight

    Range Life (April 25)

    On his return from musical purgatory, Justin
    Roelofs crafted a DIY masterpiece of organic, get-your-hands-dirty-making-it
    pop. Chunky guitars, simple piano licks, and muffled melodies galore. Do not
    fret: there is life after adultery breaks up your band and it is good.
    ~A.J. Wolosenko

    "The Condition"



    37. Peter Bjorn & John

    Writer’s Block

    Universal (August 17)

    Not content to dominate the world in the areas of perfect cheekbones, standard of living and smoked fish, Sweden flaunts its overflowing pool of genius pop with another stunning release. The doe-eyed whistling single "Young Folks" garnered all the attention, but that stellar duet was by no means the only treat PB & J had to offer. In fact, the consistency of the low-key hooks throughout makes the album’s title a laughable misrepresentation. ~Jeff Klingman

    "Young Folks"



    36. M. Ward


    Merge (August 29) 

    A glimmering succession of besotted valentines, Ward’s latest is closing-time music at the bar you never want to leave. ~Michael Legat

    "Chinese Translation"



    35. The Melvins

    A Senile Animal

    Ipecac (October 10)

    Sounds like: A quadraphonic Stoner Witch.

    Smells like: Rock royalty.

    Looks like: Hair. Lotsa hair. ~Zach Hothorn

    "A History of Drunks"



    34. The Strokes

    First Impression

    RCA (January 3)

    Though it was released in January, First Impressions of Earth was strong enough to stay with us through 2006. A great pop-rock record that will be remembered fondly in the Strokes catalog, this is one of the most immediate records on this list. ~Matthew Gasteier

    "You Only Live Once"



    33. Cappablack

    Facades and Skeletons

    Scape Germany

    This year’s Ghislain Poirier (whose Breakupdown came in at number twelve last year), Japanese duo Cappablack shows what glitch-hop can be in 2006, and it’s a thrilling revelation. Though the vocal tracks, from American Awol One and Japanese Emirp, aren’t quite as freeing as the instrumentals, this is top-notch beat-work all around. ~Matthew Gasteier


    "Components & Variables"



    32. Final Fantasy

    He Poos Clouds

    Tomlab (June 13)

    Asinine title aside, the second album from Owen Pallett crams an astounding amount of beautiful music in its ten tracks, with Pallett’s elegant arrangements of strings, harpsichord, piano and percussion. Despite the classical instruments involved, He Poos Clouds is more catchy than stuffy, harmonically complex yet completely accessible. ~Chris Sahl

    "This Lamb Sells Condos"




    31. Junior Boys
    So This Is Goodbye

    Domino (September 12)

    If Vikter Dupliax tends to lean more toward soul with his music, then the two members of the Junior Boys are his opposite, playing around with soul/R&B while embracing the electronic/new-wave sound more. This release is structurally and rhythmically more straightforward than 2004’s Last Exit, but the duo’s use of sound textures — vocally and instrumentally — stands in as the highlight of this album. ~Adrian Covert

    "In the Morning"




    Best of 2006  (Picks 50 to 41) / (Picks 30 to 21) / (Picks 20 to 11) / (Picks 10 to 1)


    Staff Picks Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5.
    Check out Prefix’s Best of 2005, 2004 and 2003.