In many ways, 2012 was a stop-gap year for emo. While there were several compelling releases from major artists and newcomers, perhaps fears of the looming Mayan Apocalypse or the potential election of Mitt Romney had something to do with this being a quieter time for emo music. In all seriousness though, 2012 marked both the end and beginning of an era for emo. 2011 saw several successful releases, and naturally many artists spent most of 2012 hitting the road instead of dropping new music. Additionally, 2013 would prove to be a banner year for new subgenres and bands within emo to take flight, which leads us to believe that 2012 was the transitional period the genre needed. 

Read more: 10 best emo albums of 2011, from Taking Back Sunday to Sleeping With Sirens

2012 was emo’s great reset, which spawned strong debut releases from now beloved bands, reunions of long-lost genre icons and the beginning of the indie-hipster crossover no one expected. From Modern Baseball to Pierce The Veil, these are the 12 best emo albums of 2012.

Modern Baseball – Sports 

When best friends Jake Ewald and Bren Lukens attended college in Philadelphia, the musical duo became immersed in the city's flourishing emo and indie-rock scene and knew they had to record a proper LP as Modern Baseball. Recorded entirely by themselves, the duo were allotted free studio time at their university’s recording studio to create their debut album. The result was the sincere and playfully self-deprecating Sports, a collection of universally relatable songs that chronicled young love, insecurity and the excitement of being away at college. The band gained serious praise from fans and critics alike due to the strength of now-classic songs such as “The Weekend” and “Tears Over Beers” and from there would become massive fixtures in the 2010s emo scene.

Title Fight – Floral Green

While Title Fight can fit in several different genres, they thrived when they dove deep into their ’90s emo and shoegaze influences. On their sophomore album, Floral Green, Title Fight set the stage for emo’s transition into the more delicate and reverb-laden sound that we’d see in later years from bands such as Turnover and Citizen. Highlights include the epic Hum-worship track “Head in the Ceiling Fan” and the chaotic, self-reflective “Secret Society.”

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory 

Cloud Nothings initially started as the bedroom solo project of vocalist/guitarist Dylan Baldi, but on their sophomore album, Attack on Memory, the band became a proper four-piece. The album elevated the humble group to indie-rock royalty, landing festival spots around the world. The strength of Attack on Memory is its musical diversity, ranging from the apocalyptic-sounding “No Future/No Past” and “No Sentiment” to the radio-ready gloss of “Stay Useless” and “Fall In.” 

The Early November – In Currents 

When New Jersey emo legends the Early November reunited in 2011 for a show, little did we know they'd release their first album in six years with 2012's In Currents. The album is an emotionally charged and inventive release that satiated their most nostalgic fans while bringing them into the present. Standout tracks include the candid “A Stain On The Carpet” and the catchy anthem “Tell Me Why.” For any emo band planning to reunite in the future, In Currents is the template for coming back in style. 

Daytrader – Twelve Years

It’s still painful to fathom that we only received one album from the Long Island emo underdogs Daytrader. Having inked a deal with Rise Records, scoring tours with successful scene bands and recording their impeccable debut album, Twelve Years, with producer Mike Sapone (Taking Back Sunday, Mayday Parade), it seemed like Daytrader were on the verge of something big. However, this wasn't enough, as the band parted ways just months after the album’s release. Twelve Years is a near-perfect slice of Long Island emo history, a bold statement considering how influential the region was in terms of its contributions to the genre. Standout tracks include the anthemic “Firebreather,” the heavy opener “deadfriends” and the somber acoustic ballad “Heard it in a song.” 

Basement – Colourmeinkindness 

Colourmeinkindness was a pivotal release for emo-grunge outfit Basement. Not only did the band beat the sophomore slump, but they cemented themselves as leaders of the blossoming new wave of emo in the 2010s. The album combined all of the best parts of '90s emo with grunge in the vein of classic groups such as Nirvana and Failure. “Whole” has become the permanent opening song for the band’s live shows and is always sure to get the entire room jumping instantaneously. Basement went on hiatus shortly after the album's release but thankfully reemerged a few years later for two more critically acclaimed records and tours with Weezer and Pixies.

Further Seems Forever – Penny Black

By now it’s common knowledge that when Further Seems Forever released their acclaimed debut album, The Moon Is Down, in 2001, frontman Chris Carrabba had already left to pursue his solo venture Dashboard Confessional full time. While the band were never able to properly tour with the original lineup at the time, the album became a beloved classic, and many wondered if the band would ever reunite to make a proper follow-up. In 2012, the unthinkable happened when Carrabba rejoined the band for Penny Black, their first record together in 11 years. With lead single “So Cold,” Further Seems Forever reemerged victoriously with the strongest hooks of their career and a more polished sound that suited the band well. As a whole, the record contains everything you'd want from a Further Seems Forever release: interesting drum patterns, jangling guitars and Carrabba’s passionate vocals.

Pierce The Veil – Collide With The Sky 

What else is there left to say about Pierce The Veil’s 2012 LP Collide With The Sky? The album launched the San Diego quartet into the stratosphere and spawned the now platinum-selling single “King For A Day” featuring Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens), leading them to become real kings of the scene. Collide With Sky was an inventive release for the time, as the songs had everything from technical guitar parts, mariachi segments and the sheer power of vocalist Vic Fuentes’ dynamic and high-pitched vocals.

Attack Attack! – This Means War 

Attack Attack! had a lot to prove on their third record, This Means War. Vocalist Caleb Shomo (Beartooth), who was barely 18 years old at the time, was tasked with taking over sole vocal duties after the departure of clean vocalist Johnny Franck, and the pressure was certainly on. While Shomo had earned his stripes as a screamer on their previous record, he wasted no time in developing the soulful vibrato we all know and love today. He also took on the album's production duties, which had to have been daunting after years of working with esteemed producers such as Joey Sturgis and John Feldmann. This Means War turned Attack Attack! into a respected band within the genre and helped instill confidence in Shomo as the powerhouse frontman he is today. With everything from booming seven-string guitars, mechanical drums and rock-radio choruses, This Means War was the band's perfect swan song.

Neck Deep – Rain in July 

On their debut EP, Rain in July, Neck Deep weren't necessarily reinventing the wheel within pop punk. However, they were certainly foreshadowing their strong songwriting skills through catchy songs about heartbreak, hometown woes and the joy of youth. Neck Deep’s breakout single “A Part Of Me” showed a softer, more vulnerable side as well. It paid off, as the song is now a staple within their catalog and helped propel them to mainstream status shortly after. Rain in July felt like the best parts from genre contenders the Story So Far and Man Overboard but with a more U.K.-influenced sound that offered an easy and fun listening experience. 

The 1975 – Facedown EP

In August 2012, the 1975 (who previously went by the moniker Drive Like I Do) released their first collection of songs with their Facedown EP. The EP was largely a teaser for their self-titled debut album, which would drop in 2013 and elevate the band to near-instant success. The EP also marked the first time they released “The City” as well as the deep cut “Antichrist,” which has gone on to become one of their most highly requested songs at shows (as of this writing, it's still never been performed live). However, it was famously covered by Halsey early on in her career in 2014. 

Being As An Ocean – Dear G-D…

Being As An Ocean made a bold statement with their debut album Dear G-D… Combining elements ranging from spoken word, post-hardcore and emo, the album sounded like the perfect hybrid of Thursday, Counterparts and La Dispute. From the moment the opening track “Nothing, Save the Power They’re Given” kicks in, it's clear that you're in for an emotional journey you won't forget.