Wacky women provided three of my 2006 highlights. They don't come more outlandish than Karen O of the New York art rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose fashion sense would make her stand out at a circus. Her band's second album, Show Your Bones (Polydor), proved that there was much substance beneath the style. Nick Zinner's roaring, distorted guitars dominated the sound, but the addition of uncharacteristic acoustic guitars allowed the winning melodies to breathe. O's antics may overshadow the music, but these were songs worth showing off about.
Less worried about image was Karin Dreijer Andersson of the Swedish electronica duo The Knife. Best known for their song "Heartbeats", which José González transformed into an unrecognisable acoustic twinkler on an advert for televisions, they became darker and more haunting than ever on their third album, Silent Shout (Brille). File under chill-out at your peril.
In contrast, the most fun to be had this year was in the hyperactive presence of the Brazilian sextet (five girls and a boy) Cansei de Ser Sexy, whose singer calls herself Lovefoxxx and whose band name translates as "Tired of Being Sexy". With the vibrant disco punk of their self-titled debut album (Sub Pop), they emerged from a São Paulo scene that few in the UK had previously encountered. Tracks such as "Meeting Paris Hilton" were reason enough to book a plane ticket.