Albums Of The Year: Endless Window 2013 Review, Part Three
50) Broadcast - Berberian Sound Studio OST
49) Atoms for Peace - AMOK
48) Wire - Change Becomes Us
47) Jai Paul - Jai Paul
46) Deerhunter - Monomania
45) Hookworms - Pearl Mystic
44) The Child of Lov - The Child of Lov
43) Kanye West - Yeezus
42) Conquering Animal Sound - On Floating Bodies
41) Charles Bradley - Victim of Love
40) Earl Sweatshirt - Doris
39) The Body - Christs, Redeemers
38) Amor de Dias - The House At Sea
37) Yo La Tengo - Fade
36) Manic Street Preachers - Rewind The Film
35) Ghostpoet - Some Say I So Some Say Light
34) Darkside - Psychic
33) Machinedrum – Vapor City
32) Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
31) Warm Digits - Interchange
30) Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
28) British Sea Power - Machineries of Joy
27) Fell Voices - Regnum Saturni
26) Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
25) Iceage - You're Nothing
24) Danny Brown - Old
23) John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
22) Death Grips - Government Plates
21) Melt Yourself Down - Melt Yourself Down
Overgrown may not have made a pop star of James Blake just yet (although healthy sales and a Mercury Prize should keep his record company happy enough), but it proved after the overly staid Enough Thunder that the promise of those stellar dance EPs and his debut album was real. On the production side of things alone, there's very little this year that sounded this accomplished and forward-thinking - seriously, why is Chance The Rapper the only guy in hip-hop using his stuff for beats so far? - and when he matches it with songwriting on the level of Retrograde or Life Round Here, the boy Blake demonstrates a remarkable amount of talent for just one man.
At first glance, you might look at Excavation, and think, "oh yeah, scary heavy metal". The reality is far darker than that. Bobby Krlic's 2011 debut was full of tormented, abused found sounds and symphonic decay, but Excavation went one step further. The album starts in death, and traces the path of the soul through the afterlife through cavernous bass, tense drone and urgent horror soundtrack strings. It's a sound that could easily tip over into kitsch, but Krlic's smart enough to stop things tipping over into self-parody, and rewards the listener at the end with the chink in the dark of The Drop. A difficult but hugely accomplished listen.
For an idea that should have been so wrong on paper - a delayed comeback from a group whose last two albums were clearly not good enough, and still lacking the fan-favourite original guitarist- Bloodsports is supremely right in reality. In fact, Suede make it sound downright easy here, recapturing the energy and drama of their youth almost effortlessly whilst shifting away from melodrama just enough to make it befitting of an older band. With this strong, strident collection, Suede have made exactly the album only they could have done, when almost nobody would have imagined that they could.
If The National really are, as many are fond of dubbing them, the new R.E.M., then this is their Green album - the slightly awkward but still immensely enjoyable sound of a cult band that's found itself miraculously hitting the big time. Trouble Will Find Me suffers slightly from an abundance of slow tracks in the second half, but track by track the quality control is as high as ever, and in Don't Swallow The Cap, This Is The Last Time and Humiliation, they've come up with some of their greatest triumphs to date. Awkward tracklistings aside, this release sees the band making the most of their new-found fame.
While many treated the mini-album Dagger Paths as the debut, it makes sense that Forest Swords would see the full-length Engravings as his real first statement. It's a record that takes everything that enthralled listeners previously - dubbed-out bass lines, murky percussion, Morricone guitar lines - but goes further with it, extrapolating those slow-burn delights into a cohesive and engaging statement. It's music that's ideally suited to cold winter walks and introspective solo listening, but as the euphoria of closer Friend, You Will Never Learn demonstrates best of all, it's a release that reaches out as well as beckons in.
Designers, take note: that above is how you design a record cover. Cool, precise, bold, uncluttered. It's an ideal match for Outfit's music, a synth-pop blend perfectly in keeping with current trends (the productions of Jamie XX certainly loom over the likes of Thank God I Was Dreaming) but mindful also of the considered intelligence and posture of ancestors like OMD. As such, Performance feels like the work of the brainy, more mannered cousin of acts like Django Django and Hot Chip, but beneath the pristine exterior lies something more incisive and heartfelt than that might suggest. It's a beguiling debut from a band that sounds of a piece with the zeitgeist yet sits majestically outside it.
In the year of the surprise release, David Bowie was the first and the biggest. Long presumed totally retired after the health troubles that halted his touring in support of the Reality album in 2004, The Next Day was a wonderful shock for his ever-present legion of fans. And even better than that? Far from the sound of man supposedly on his death bed, this was a magnificently alive and potent collections. He may no longer be the pioneer he once was, but as that marvellously cheeky cover made clear, there's plenty of room left amongst the sounds and looks of his many pasts for him to get to work within. So we had the ambitious, Scary Monsters rush of the title track, the deceptively sweet Valentine's Day, the haunting Heat, the touching Where Are We Now?...a whole treasure trove in fact that add a significant new chapter to his body of work.
9) Savages - Silence Yourself
8) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
7) Julia Holter - Loud City Song
6) Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels
5) Various Artists - After Dark 2
4) Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady
3) Deafheaven - Sunbather
2) My Bloody Valentine - m b v
I found that I was profoundly reluctant to listen. The moment I did, one of the richest mysteries of my listening life -- “What would the follow-up to Loveless sound like?” -- would instantly be erased. Once I clicked play, that was it. I would never not know the answer to that question again.
1) These New Puritans - Field of Reeds
"You asked if the islands would float away"
"if the stars run through me / like a river, like the air:"
"I said yes."
"I am in the wrong place / so I will go away."
"Sail to me, sail to me."