I’ve lived with Daphni’s new album Joli Mai for a few weeks now, and I’m developing the belief that if it was released under Dan Snaith’s adjacent Caribou moniker and a few BPMs slower it’d be active in the collective AOTY conversation. Joli Mai is, I’d argue, the most inventive, adventurous, and fun record Snaith has made, an exhilarating tour of the techno fringes that sustains a remarkable coherence despite its flexing ingenuity. It’s the best club album of the year, yet reading that claim some part of you might switch off. Why?

Because dance music is, to an extent, critically stigmatised. Because we don’t afford a dance album the same degree of critical respect as we would a folk album. Because Daphni makes dance music, while Caribou makes music.

I want to be clear that I don’t consider this consensus to be anything malicious; it’s not intellectual snobbery or a concerted marginalision, rather a benign dismissiveness. Yet there is a palpable disconnect. Mainstream, theoretically genre-blanket outlets may feature a Caribou album in their AOTY conversation, but they wouldn’t consider doing so with Daphni. Jiaolong, Joli Mai’s predecessor under the Daphni name, welcomed great reviews upon its dropping in 2012, but outside specialised publications it didn’t enter the revered AOTY dialogue. Snaith’s follow-up, Our Love, dropped in 2014 and reverted to the Caribou label; an immensely enjoyable record but – to my mind – deficient in the illimitable creativity which pulsates Jiaolong and Joli Mai, prodigiously satisfying but fairly conservative. Judging by the two most efficient review aggregation sites Album Of The Year and Metacritic, Our Love was not only one of the best reviewed albums of 2014, but one of the most prominently featured on AOTY lists. Caribou is consistently a critically sound bet.

At the time of publication Joli Mai has been out in the world for nearly three weeks; it has one review registered on Album Of The Year, and it’s not on Metacritic. Admittedly, the album arrives months off the back of Daphni's fabriclive 93 mix, with most of Joli Mai constituting tracks created for that mix, but crammed timing doesn't vindicate derogation. It’s not even been awarded token or fleeting coverage, it’s just… absent. This is infuriating; I reaffirm, if you want to experience Snaith’s auteurship at its most thrillingly vivid and impulsive, Daphni is your primer, but he's systematically relegated to the periphery.

The inference of this fallacy is that something as particular in its vision as dance music cannot be appreciated in a danceless context, that its compositions – so resplendent on the dancefloor – collapse under the stress of cerebral sobriety, perhaps even undeserving of the eviscerating glare of common critical analysis. Dance music’s primary prerogative is to inspire dancing, not to be listened to as you would with more accepted genres. Of course, one person’s critical prioritising is another’s critical negligence.

By its nature, its history, and by its very name, dance music is art which begs criticism. Dance music enables dancing, to dance is to express oneself, and expression is the compulsion of art. Dance music can be critiqued by its faculty to enable expression through dancing – its inborn sensitive affect – but it can analogously be assessed compositionally and thematically; like, I dunno, everything else in music. Take Joli Mai, whose whirlwind trek – commencing via the curious ‘Poly’ plod ascending into the paralytic bass of its third quarter – is sensorially magnetic, massaging your serotonin and puppeteering your motor functions. Then you can, if so inclined, dive into the material means of its production; isolating and demarcating the power in the Richter-defying sonic boom of ‘Hey Drum’; the melody in the skeletal funk of ‘Face to Face'; the overlapping and limpid dissention of ‘Xing Tian’. It’s not only viable to simultaneously appraise the sensory and the texture, but more demanding and rewarding to do so.

The counter-argument to this is that fringe genres receive their due course in fringe outlets, which is especially salient for relatively niche scenes like metal, jazz, and modern classical; print and online manifestations of the elementary "taste is subjective" wisdom. Dance music of course has such publications, and very good ones, from Resident Advisor to MixMag. But dance isn’t a fringe genre, and one glance at the UK and US charts denotes its mainstream appeal. This incontrovertibly raises the undying debate within music criticism over popularity versus credibility, the eyerolling argument of whether commercial success posits the law of diminishing returns on integrity, that baseless and frankly shite contention that something popular cannot be Good. It’s true that much of the dance music populating the charts is insipid if not outright bad, but so is much of the rock and pop, yet their authority remains untainted (assuming we ignore the prosaic poptimists versus rocktimists debate as we evidently should). This is an instant demotion specially reserved for dance music.

It's likely that I’m prejudiced in favour of dance music as a fan; and metal, jazz, and modern classical fans residually clamour for the same degree of cross-industry respect. Perhaps dance music’s immutable singularity as music to be danced to will always preclude it from reaching the harbour of equitable artistic credibility. But if polarised music is good, in concept and in execution, it should be judged on a level playing field regardless of how polarised its function may be. Dance music is the art of facilitating catharsis and surfacing latent euphoria, and you only need to glance around a Daphni-sown dancefloor to appreciate what that means. The disco is an exhibition and we should be paying attention.