As mentioned in my top 10 singles countdown, 2013 has been a stellar year for releases. There have been countless albums which have soundtracked my year, so picking my top 10 is a real challenge. I have chosen albums that I believe will remain relevant in ten or twenty years times as they exist as a complete entity rather than a number of highlights in a sea of filler. Once again, get involved and let Vada know your top 10.
10. Savages – ‘Silence Yourself’
This album is the musical equivalent of a tape worm. At first listen it sounds repulsive and crass but then it roots itself inside your skull and you are completely helpless as it becomes a repetitive buzzing through your brain. I have huge respect for the British/French all female quartet for leading a post punk revolution and for having the unique ability to translate the visceral basement nature of their live shows perfectly into every track on ‘Silence Yourself’.
Download: ‘Shut Up’, ‘I Am Here’, ‘Husbands’.
The third album from the Danish singer songwriter saw her tread new experimental territories with dance inspired tracks such as ‘My Boxer’ and ‘Love A Man Dead’ merging successfully with her unique brand of sugary sweet Scandinavian pop. Wish Bone demonstrates bravery to alter a sound that proved incredibly popular on her second album and thus allows Oh Land creative freedom when making music in the future. Her eccentric personality and charming stage persona is also something that appears more prominently on this LP.
Download: ‘Renaissance Girls’, ‘Pyromaniac’, ‘Love You Better’.
The queen of pop returned at the very end of 2013 without rumour or speculation and dropped a 14 track strong LP along with 17 videos. She has reminded everyone why she is more than a musician, she is an icon by smashing iTunes sales records and mopping the floor with her preppy pop competition which include Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga who all released feeble albums in 2013. The sounds found on this visual album are mature in comparison to the pop heavy ‘4’ and a renewed honesty and compassion means the songwriting is also of an exceptional level. When this is coupled with a focus on R & B and soul, you are left with a strong body of work that cements Beyoncé’s reputation as world class.
Download: ‘Pretty Hurts’, ‘Partition’, ‘Mine’.
7. Hurts – ‘Exile’
Many end of year lists overlooked the Mancunican duo’s second LP. The boys took on a far darker approach than their debut ‘Happiness’ and tackled subjects including sex, violence, death and darkness which may have been why it didn’t perform as well commercially as there were no real lead singles. However, the majestic cinematic qualities of ‘Blind’ outshine anything on the first record, the intense nature of ‘Cupid’ matches the duo’s somber live show and the hip hop inspired ‘Sandman’ shows Hurts evolving into a band who could confidently headline major festivals around the world. A UK tour to support the release would have been great though.
Download: ‘Cupid’, ‘Miracle’, ‘Sandman’, ‘The Crow’.
The sister trio have had the most incredible year after proving themselves as a live act through storming performances at major festivals in the summer, their debut LP finally landed at the end of September. Although there was more emphasis on the breezy Californian sunshine in comparison to snarling guitar and snares, the debut is packed with infectious hooks and an innovative blend of pop, rock and folk. The brilliant personalities of the three sisters paired with their insane musical talents mean they are in this game for the long run.
Download: ‘Falling’, ‘Honey & I’, ‘My Song 5’, ‘Let Me Go’.
5. The Joy Formidable – ‘Wolf’s Law’
The Welsh alternative rockers released their second LP at the beginning on 2013 and it excelled the levels of mayhem and magnitude that were established on the debut. The Joy Formidable make such an incredibly large stadium sized sound that compacting it to one album is a tough job. Luckily, the gargantuan single ‘Cholla’ embodies the band’s process and live performance. After exploding from beneath the radar in 2012 with a sound so huge that they drew instant comparisons to Foo Fighters, they achieved an impressive feat by creating a second album that managed to surpass the first in terms of composition and production.
Download: ‘Little Blimp’, ‘Maw Maw Song’, ‘Silent Treatment’.
Another album which is full of crunching guitar and amp shattering rock was the debut of LA duo Deap Vally. What made ‘Sistrionix’ a cult album is the incredibly witty songwriting paired with a double lead woman personality of Lindsay and Julie. The tongue and cheek ‘Baby I Call Hell’ outlines to perfection the failings of a one sided relationship whilst ‘Lies’ calls out anyone who has ever cheated and slates them all at once. The girls have clear instrumental skill and the blues rock influence shines on this grungey LP which is reminiscent of early White Stripes.
Download: ‘Walk Of Shame’, ‘Creep Life’, ‘Baby I Call Hell’.
British rapper M.I.A has had a turbulent few years which has ranged from slating of ‘MAYA’, super bowl controversy and a bitter custody battle. However, the visual artist appears to have channeled the feelings of defiance and overcoming her issues as she exclaims to be ‘coming back with power’. This album is her most complete and structured body of work for years, the bhangra influence ties the tracks together and any one could be lifted as a single. ‘Matangi’ is an album that reminds you why M.I.A is more than a rapper, she is a social activist with an alarmingly high level of intelligence, despite tracks such as ‘Bring The Noize’ being disguised as dubstep meets dance, it’s lyrical content is incredibly current and challenges ideals we live by.
Download: ‘Warriors’, ‘Only 1 U’, ‘Bad Girlz’, ‘Sexodus’.
The Nottingham students turned musicians were tipped as the next big thing since the release of the trance inspired ‘Metal & Dust’. A winning combination of precise production, talented musicianship and a distinguished and unique vocal, London Grammar released a delicate and devastating debut which charted at #2 in the UK and saw them sell out two UK tours. With a string of hit singles, the band’s artistic blend of indie, pop and house is set to make ‘If You Wait’ one of the most successful albums of 2014.
Download: ‘Wasting My Young Years’, ‘Sights’, ‘Nightcall’, ‘Interlude’.
1. Foals- ‘Holy Fire’
This album is simply world class. It elevated from the confused math rock of their first two records and set them aside as the best working guitar led live act currently in the UK. The range that is available on this LP is staggering, the band become reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails on the grunge/punk ‘Inhaler’ which then leads directly into their most pure pop release so far ‘My Number’. The band’s ability to build tension is ever present on the beautiful ‘Late Night’ which makes reality appear crushing when paired with it’s devastating video, whilst the closing track ‘Moon’ is one of the most atmospheric and heart wrenching tracks to have been composed this decade. The quality of ‘Holy Fire’ supported by Foals’ incredible live performance has seen the band play Glastonbury to thousands and headline Latitude, means they are continually reaching new highs. Foals are simply the most exciting act working today. BUY. THIS. ALBUM.
Download: ‘Inhaler’, ‘Late Night’, ‘Milk & Black Spiders’, ‘Providence’.