10: Foals- Holy Fire
I didn’t actually seem to think that this album was as good as everyone else seemed to think. That actually says a lot, because it’s still made it onto the top ten. The first track, ‘Inhaler’, misleads you as it begins like it wouldn’t be out of place on Random Access Memories but the chorus is just huge, and that funk doesn’t just disappear, appearing again at many points through the album, most obviously on ‘My Number’, which by name sounds like it’s a shit Miley Cyrus song (sorry Miley, I thought wreckin’ ball was alright) but is truly an awesome track, and one of the signature songs of 2013. But the best thing about this album is that it really feels like a journey, as each track gets more and more obscure until ‘Moon’ sees everything off all slow and reflective like.
9: Arctic Monkeys- AM
If anyone read my review of this album on the website last year, I may have *cough*called this the best album of a generation *cough*. I’m going to have to take that back as it only makes 9th of the year, but the general point still stands. This is a truly special album, that will be remembered throughout generations the same way Sgt Peppers, or Dark Side of the Moon will be. Not only because it’s brilliant, but because it’s different. Really really different. Arctic Monkeys here have taken the sludgy dirty guitar sound created in 1990s America and combined it with their own Northern England sense of humour they’re so famous for, and it works spectacularly. In 30 years time when Arctic Monkeys documentaries litter fucking BBC4the same way Rolling Stones and Nirvana documentaries are doing so now, this is the album that they will point to and say, “that was the defining album”. So in a way, my generation remark still stands doesn’t it?
8. David Bowie- The Next Day
I don’t think anyone saw this one coming. David Bowie’s had literally endless alter-egos over the decades, Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke etc etc, so in a way it was refreshing to hear him release an album as just ‘David Bowie’. And ironically, even though he’s been releasing music since 1967 this album was one of the most refreshing that I’ve heard all year. This was also the album that made me smile the most, which sounds really lame but listen to it and you actually can’t help but put on a big childish grin. ‘Valentine’s Day’ is amazing, and the album has got it’s darker sides, ‘Heat’ is really depressing for example, and that gives the album the much appreciated depth that makes it what it is. It isn’t necessarily different to anything else he’s ever released, but why bother changing if you nailed it in 1969?
7. Arcade Fire- Reflektor
When Arcade Fire appeared on his chatshow earlier this year, Zach Galifianakis said to them “Oh great just what the world needs, another Arcade Fire album” and at the time I couldn’t help but agree with him. But listening to it, Zach was wrong. More than any other album on this list, Reflektor sounds like a quite phenomenal amount of time has gone into writing it. The whole album feels like a performance when played through, complete with applauding crowds, introductions from hosts of shows they’ve been on recently (I think Jonathan Ross introduces them on You Already Know). The Suburbs didn’t live up to Neon Bible mainly because the album was two-dimensional, soulless and the same all the way through. Reflektor is none of those things. Truly a band on top of their game.
6. Disclosure- Settle
These brothers are basically the whole reason house and garage are big again. All that crap that’s come out recently and is now all over daytime Radio 1 is because of these two. And it’s still cool at the moment because Will.i.am hasn’t caught on yet, so in three years time we’ll all probably claim to hate them the same way people claim to hate Magnetic Man because dubstep’s now really uncool. But the fact remains that this is a very, very decent album, one of the best dance albums of the year. Coming straight out of the 1990s but mixed with all the best bits of the current British electronica scene, the album kicks off with now Seedy Sonics favourite ‘When the Fire Starts to Burn’ and moving on to huge single ‘Latch’, and carries on from where they leave off. You & Me introduces Eliza Doolittle into a completely different environment she pulls off brilliantly, and London Grammar finish the album majestically with Help Me Lose My Mind.
5. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
Biggest album of the year undoubtedly but everyone saw that coming anyway. The best thing about Random Access Memories is how pretentious it is, so pretentious it seems to laugh at itself at times. ‘Beyond’, for example, is so up itself that you simply can’t help but laugh at it. But that’s almost the point, and it’s a really fun album to listen to, one you always end up dancing to. Also, ‘Give Life Back to Music’ starts it all off so epically that immediately you’re in. Touch is a masterpiece, as is Get Lucky, Doin’ It Right is so groovy it’s one of my favourite tracks of the year, and contact is so huge that it ties the rest if the album together really nicely and suddenly it doesn’t feel so silly and pretentious after all, and everything finally makes sense again. Amazing.
4. Kurt Vile- Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
Kurt Vile just knows. He understands you. He knows your likes and your dislikes, your dreams and your fears, and he’s written an album just for you. If you’ve heard the album you already agree with me, and if you don’t agree with me it’s because you haven’t heard it, so listen to it, and you soon will. He is a total genius, and if this album isn’t the best album of the year, it is certainly the most underrated. The near title track ‘Wakin On a Pretty Day’ is the highlight of the album, but the other brilliant tracks are Air Bud and Girl Called Alex, awe-inspiring tracks, both clearly written on a lot of narcotics in the same blissful way Screamadelica, or Oracular Spectacular was. It is one of those rare albums that everyone can relate to in the sense that it’s the little things that make people truly happy. In Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, Kurt Vile has captured those moments, and it is truly incredible.
3. Jon Hopkins- Immunity
I hadn’t even heard of this guy before last year, and I couldn’t believe that when I actually looked him up because Immunity is his fifth solo album, and he’s also written music with Coldplay for god’s sake. Forgive me for that originally putting me off him but his own material is stunning. There was a hell of a lot of good dance music released last year this album was my favourite by an absolute mile. The whole thing just sounds massive. It’s like mixing the better sides of James Blake or Benga with Sigur Ros or Mogwai to form more than just an album, it’s a whole bloody subgenre. If there is a standout track ‘Open Eye Signal’ is it, lugging along slowly growing for eight crushing minutes of electronic anthem.
2. Kanye West- Yeezus
It would be so great to hate Kanye West. It would be so perfect. He’s got a beautiful wife and he’s a complete bastard so he would be just the greatest person to dislike. But I can’t do it. If he made terrible music it would be oh so easy, too easy. But the unsettling fact is he’s one of the best artists of the decade and we’re all going to have to get over that because the simple fact is he’s one of the best artists of the decade and we’re all going to have to get over that because the simple truth is he’s a genius. Yeezus is proof if proof were needed. It’s so dark, darker than hip-hop has been whilst staying serious. In a year where most of the hyped hip-hop was a let down (the only other decent rappers last year were Pusha and Earl) this was such a breath of fresh air, showing that the genre is still moving forward and developing. New Slaves and I Am A God sound so threatening and dangerous, and the last track, Bound 2, is in blatant contrast to the rest album and seems to be Kanye Laughing at himself, essentially saying “Don’t listen to what I say, most of it’s talk”. Kanye says he’s a god, and I’m one step closer to believing it.
1.Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds- Push The Sky Away
I’ve already exhausted my entire thesaurus on how to say an album’s good, but there isn’t anyone quite like Nick Cave.
There are very few artists that can claim to never have out their name to a bad album but Nick Cave is certainly one of them. This album This album is no exception. In fact it is the best he’s ever sounded. Nick Cave has already established himself as one of the best lyricists of a generation (even if it’s not this one) with his gothic hellish style but he may have bested himself here. “And we know who you are, and we know where you live, and we know there’s no need to forgive” whispered through the speakers like it’s a genuine threat. “Hannah Montana does the African savannah, as the simulated rainy season begins” on the Higgs Boson Blues, the best name for a song I’ve perhaps ever heard. There’s just so much soul and spirit here, providing an insight into how Nick Cave and his aussie bandmates think. I’ve exaggerated how much I like all these albums on the list but it’s impossible to exaggerate here, as there are no words to emphasise how good it is. Just give it a listen. If you listen to one album in the next 12 months,don’t worry about 2014. Make sure it’s this one.