This past year has seen an explosion of fantastic new music from nearly every corner imaginable. From freshly discovered artists, to sophomoric releases, to veterans of the industry, there has been no shortage in the flow of creativity. Some of the best albums of the year refuse to be type-cast as a single genre. They’re collaborative, defying the antiquated tradition of categorically confining artists and their respective albums. Ultimately, they are impeccably crafted gems from a wide array of influences.
My list of the Best Albums of 2013 is as follows:
#10 Haim- Days Are Gone
This sister trio’s first full-length album debut is remarkable. The album is foremost rock inspired, interspersed with heavy influences of 90’s R&B sensuality and 80’s synth pop. Each track is packed with catchy drops and rhythm. It will be exciting to see what comes next from this already highly polished, sister trio.
#9 James Blake- Overgrown
This sophomore release firmly establishes Blake as a tremendous artist and creator with the promise of longevity. The album could best be described in its entirely as a hauntingly beautiful ballad of love and yearning. James Blake is the poster child to the genre-bending, mind warp of a journey that his listeners embark upon. Overgrown oozes with its obvious R&B sultriness and rings with undertones of Blake’s electronic, dubstep begininngs. It sends chills down the spine with his poetic, gospel lyrics.
#8 Blood Orange- Cupid Deluxe
Devonté Hynes, the brilliant British singer and songwriter, operates under the moniker of Blood Orange and basks in the anonymity of writing for the likes of Florence + the Machine, Solange, and Sky Ferreira. Blood Orange is hardly a solo venture, featuring Chairlift’s vocalist and David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors. True to form, the album is reverberating with the ambiance of guitar-heavy tracks, and soulful melodies wistfully describing life in New York.
#7 Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
Daft Punk is at it again with their latest release, Random Access Memories, firmly establishing themselves as the reigning kings of dance music. This album is a full blown electro-jazz-funk dance party with the nostalgic, highly electronic sound of their earliest days found in “Doin’ it Right.” My personal favorite track of the album is “Lose Yourself to Dance” as Pharrell beckons his listeners to do just that.
#6 Darkside- Psychic
I was absolutely beside myself upon discovering this simply astounding EP released by my favorite dance music producer, Nicolaas Jar and guitarist, Dave Harrington. The result is a brilliant creation consisting of a minimalist, psychedelic vibe interspersed with guitar riffs throughout. Listening to this groovy album from start to finish is a narcotic in and of itself. I can’t wait to see this duo perform live at the Fonda in LA, and can only hope that their chemistry live in performance is as magnetic as it is on their recorded tracks.
UPDATE: One of the most electrifying live performances I have ever seen!
#5 Laura Mvula- Sing to the Moon
Of all the new artists of the year, Laura Mvula proves to the most talented, fresh-faced, vocalist of the bunch. Joining a long list of British soul artists, Mvula stands out from the rest with a beautifully unique, sing-song quality to her voice, contrasted by the booming, theatrical melodies of her compositions. Her lyrics flawlessly seam together imagery of love and the beauty of the natural world, opening the album with the sentimental verse, “Our love is like the morning clouds, like the morning dew, that goes away.”
#4 Rudimental- Home
This was by far one of my favorite British pop albums of the year, blending a creative mix of house, R&B, dubstep, and a pounding drum and bass anthem throughout. This album was perfect to work into a diverse array of playlists, ranging from high-intensity spin classes to mellow, late-night yoga flows. The sultry back and forth of the lyrics between the opposite sexes of this London-based quartet are absolutely intoxicating and set the perfect tone for Home.
#3 Arcade Fire- Reflecktor
Reflecktor has been Arcade Fire’s most radical departure from their typically mellow indie-rock history. The booming symphonies create a greater sense of urgency to the tone of this album, allowing the band to solidify themselves as masters of the craft with their ability to diversify their sound. Reflecktor is an engaging album from start to finish with each track containing the unique quality of a live performance. The lyrics are equally mesmerizing as they draw you in with playful quips like “Hit me with your flashbulb eyes!”
#2 Disclosure- Settle
The Brits have dominated the music scene this past year, with yet another spectacular debut album from this England-based, brother duo. Having gained a sizable fan-base in an incredibly short period of time, Disclosure was one of the most talked about bands of the past year. They lived up well to their hype with the delivery of exceptional tracks like “You and Me” on Settle.
#1 Lorde- Pure Heroine
Lorde lands in the number one spot as the undisputed breakout artist of 2013. Her debut album, Pure Heroine gained near universal popularity across all avenues of music distribution. The ironic and contradictory tone of the album from this feisty, young pop-star speaks greatly to our desire for an alternative to the mass-produced, corporate sounds of pop noise pumping through our radios.