When the votes started pouring in from NPR listeners for the year’s best albums, two things became clear immediately: It was going to be tight, and many of the top spots would go to new, smaller bands and their debut albums. Bigger, more established acts (Coldplay, My Morning Jacket) were well represented, but listeners seemed more inspired by the year’s quieter, more intimate albums.
NPR listeners cast tens of thousands of ballots, but in the end, only a handful of votes separated some of the bands. Fleet Foxes edged out Vampire Weekend for the year’s No. 1 album, while Coldplay beat out Sigur Ros by just one vote. Meanwhile, some bands you’d expect to see on the list never made it.