Halfway through the first month of 2014, and I am finally able to compile my annual list of my favorite albums of 2013. So what was the holdup? I simply forgot what music was actually released last year. Last year more than any other, I jumped around from album to album, from song to song, from artist to artist. No one album completely owned my eardrums the entire year. Sure, there were a handful of albums that received their healthy rotation of spins, but nothing comparable to years before where I played an album from front to back, left to right and back again nearly the entire 365 days. It wasn’t that last year’s crop of releases weren’t addictive, but moreso that there was way too much music to listen to!
So in alphabetical order, here are my favorite albums of 2013:
Anxiety by Autre Ne Veut
I was shocked to find out that Arthur Ashin, the voice behind Autre Ne Veut was American, born and raised. I fail to give the U.S. its proper due when such a unique-sounding album is released by automatically assuming that the responsible artist MUST be from anywhere but here. What genre do you classify the music on Anxiety? I never once wondered until I started to write this entry. Alternative R&B? Perhaps. New Soul? Maybe. Great Music? Most definitely. And that is all you need to know.
BEYONCE‘ by Beyonce’
In the year of overhyped and underwhelming releases from everyone’s pop diva faves, Queen Bey emerged overnight literally out of nowhere to prove that she’s the “Supreme” of the music industry: well respected, critically acclaimed, admired by the kids and still owning the popular music landscape. BEYONCE’ finds Mrs. Carter channeling everyone from Madonna (“Haunted”) to Alicia Keys (“Heaven”) to Drake (“Mine”), but doing it so effortlessly and sometimes even better.
Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange
It was reported that British singer-songwriter Dev Hynes’ penned songs for Britney Spears’ most recent album failed to make the cut. If any of them sounded half as vulnerable and personal yet utterly sweet as the tracks on the second album by Blood Orange, the electronic musical project of Hynes, than it’s surely Britney Jean’s loss.
The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches
Scottish synth-poppers Chvrches pick up where La Roux last left, yet simplify that sound with more refined vocals (courtesy of lead singer Lauren Mayberry) and an overall much crisper sound. It’s the perfect album that can double as the one to pump out loudly in your car, or to play at a much lower volume while working at the office. Try it either way.
Settle by Disclosure
Don’t get me wrong, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is a fine album. It’s just that it didn’t do what Disclosure’s Settle accomplished: persuading you to join the dancefloor. If Daft Punk’s album was the sound of disco and electronic music making love, Settle was full-on, hardcore audio penetration between 90s house and any lucky listener.
Ice On The Dune by Empire of the Sun
Their look? Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: The Atlantic City Musical directed by Bobby Trendy. Their sound? A meteor shower of frothy dream pop that I am head over metallic-baby blue stiletto heel in love with.
Days Are Gone by Haim
One moment: Fleetwood Mac. Another: Expose’. Chrissie Hynde’s un-biological daughters released one of the catchiest albums of the year filled with hooks that required dedicated effort to sing along to because of the oft-rapid fire singing. Need proof? Sing “Falling” or “Forever” during your next shower.
Overgrown by James Blake
One may have to be in a certain mood when listening to James Blake’s second studio album. It’s that same mood one has to be in when pressing play on a Sade album, or more recently, anything by Frank Ocean. I am in love with Mr. Blake’s voice: haunting, emotional and a few times androgynous, so I suppose that I am always in the mood to listen to his soulful album.
Yeezus by Kanye West
Love him or hate him, there is a reason why North West’s daddy is topping most year-end Critics’ Best Of list with his sixth studio album. Never content staying within one defined genre of music, Yeezus finds Mr. West delving deeper into industrial and electronic music. The result: an aggressive, frantic and maddening soundscape of vainglorious perfection.
Pure Heroine by Lorde
Lorde’s debut album is on this list? Yes, the 17-year-old Kiwi responsible for releasing the song (“Royals”) that might cause my ears to bleed if I am ever subjected to hearing it again managed to put out the best pop album of the year. (To prevent any potential BeyHive sting, BEYONCE‘ is an R&B album.) In fact, “Royals” is my least favorite song on the entire album that sounds like the lovechild of Robyn and Lana Del Rey blessed by The xx.
Special Shout-Outs to Secondhand Rapture by MS MR, Bad Blood by Bastille, Dinner Will Be Served by Chasing Grace and the Twin Rivers EP by Big Scary who all received ample plays on my Spotify this year.
From last year’s post - My favorite albums of 2012:
- King Con by Alex Winston
- Kill for Love by Chromatics
- Ten$ion by Die Antwoord
- Halcyon by Ellie Goulding
- Our Version of Events by Emeli Sande
- A Joyful Noise by Gossip
- Visions by Grimes
- Rollerskater EP by Lindbergh Palace
- Kaleidoscope Dream by Miguel
- True EP by Solange
- Confess by Twin Shadow
- Nocturne by Wild Nothing
Click on a thumbnail to enlarge / view this year’s covers of my favorite albums of 2013:
Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
Beyonce’ – BEYONCE’
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
Disclosure – Settle
Empire of the Sun – Ice On The Dune
Haim – Days are Gone
James Blake – Overgrown
Lorde – Pure Heroine
Kanye West – Yeezus