Portishead - Third
A triumphant return. 2008 did not get off to a good start with reunion albums (see disappointments), but Portishead manage to surpass even Dummy with this, my pick for album of the year. Every song on this album is brilliant and as a whole it's even moreso than the sum of its parts.
2. Scarlett Johansson - Anywhere I Lay My Head
Largely panned by critics, I loved the 1987 4AD feel that this album had. Sure, Scarlett doesn't have a particularly great voice. But guess what? Neither does Tom Waits. David Sitek's production creates a lush and lavish environment that embraces and nurtures Johansson's voice. I strongly feel that had she not released this album under her own name, but rather under a band name (a la She & Him), there would have been a significantly different reaction to this record.
3. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
This one's on everybody's list. You've heard it. No explanation is necessary.