PICKS: Favorite Albums of 2013 (Part 2/2)

2013 Albums

In Part 1 of this list, we talked about Sara Bareilles, Lorde, Birdy, Janelle Monáe, Tommy & The High Pilots, and The National. The next six albums complete my 12 favorite albums of the year.

Not making this list are “Settle” of Disclosure, “…Like Clockwork” of Queens of the Stone Age, and “Night Time, My Time” by Sky Ferreira. I also happen to dig Youngblood Hawke’s “Wake Up”, Skylar Grey’s “Don’t Look Down”, and Youth Lagoon’s “Wondrous Bughouse”.

The following list is not necessarily ranked by it’s quality. I’m too torn up to pick a number one album for this year.

CHVRCHES The Bones of what You Believe

The Bones of What You Believe
CHVRCHES
(September)

Come on, look deep into my eyes and tell me right now that this album doesn’t belong in every year-end list there is out there.

If I am to pick a top 5, this album will certainly make the cut. The success of singles such as “The Mother We Share”, “Lies”, and “Recover” has made Chvrches quite a star on the rise. Intense hype had surrounded the release of their record and when this debut album finally dropped, they didn’t disappoint.

The album is not just an extension of their successful singles but an elaboration of their artistry as well. I love how this album is in equal parts nice and harsh; and it’s always precious when Lauren Mayberry–with all her charm and glory–throws occasional expletives to make her point.

In “Gun”, Mayberry sings so finally, we agree, no place for promises here–perhaps that’s the case for some relationships but that’s clearly not the case for this album.

STANDOUT TRACKS: We Sink, Tether, Gun, and Lies

[Read a full review of this album here.]

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Paramore
Paramore
(April)

Say all you want about Paramore’s change in sound but I will stand still in saying this is their best work to date.

There’s always an upside to change and Paramore has welcomed change with arms wide open.  Gone are the hateful, emo-ish rock tunes that we all grew accustomed to. Instead, Paramore welcomes us to a brand new era of their music, in which they are now fully embracing the pop side of their rock brand without detaching themselves from the type of rock they are best known for.

With their self-titled album, Paramore leans heavily on telling their story–a tell tale of growing up, and growing together as a band; and the grown up factor is not subtle in this record. It’s safe to say that Paramore has landed on their feet, that after years of searching for the proper definition for their name, they have finally found a place to plant their feet on.

In this record, Hayley Williams owns it–even so much better than she did before.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Still Into You, Last Hope, Ain’t It Fun, and Grow Up

Arctic Monkeys AM

AM
Arctic Monkeys
(September)

If you ask me, AM is the sexiest album of 2013. Hands down.

The Arctic Monkeys has always been one of the bands that come out strong record after record.  Over years, they have experimented on different brands of music but they manage to make a masterpiece every damn time.

With AM, they score their best attempt in showing that they have grown so much since the first record. The Arctic Monkeys takes a bold risk in this record; from prom, slow dance music they previously delivered so well, AM brings you out of the club toward the nearest hotel and a collection of bad after-party decisions.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Do I Wanna Know’, R U Mine, No. 1 Party Anthem, and Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High

[Read a full review of this album here.]

Beyonce 2013

BEYONCÉ
Beyoncé
(December)

It would be an utter disrespect to the Queen if I didn’t include this surprise album in the list.

Do I even have to elaborate?

Well, if I really must, I’d say the best thing about this album is how human it is. Where Queen Bey’s previous records took pride on her sheer flawlessness, this record takes it a notch higher by capitalizing on Beyoncé as a real person. Here, she talks about motherhood and marriage in an emotional and moody kind of way that her previous records didn’t.

I stand by my belief, Beyoncé could be my Secret Santa because this record, even without a word of buzz, is easily one of the strongest albums this year.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Pretty Hurts, Jealous, XO, and Blue

[Read a full review of this album here.]

Fitz and the Tantrums - More Than Just A Dream

More Than Just A Dream
Fitz and the Tantrums
(May)

This album came as a surprise to me, honestly.

If you dig neo-soul or a little bit of 60s pop–or even if you’re feeling just a little retro–Fitz and the Tantrums is your guy.  More Than Just A Dream is a record full of groovy tracks that combine the strong influence of 60s soul with programmed beats and modern indie-pop.

The record is, overall, light-hearted. The vocals are perfect for the classic feel of their music and it’s one of the most fun records that came out this year.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Out of My League, Fools Gold, The End, and Break The Walls, and Spark

[Check out Fitz and the Tantrums here.]

Haim Days Are Gone

Days Are Gone
Haim
(September)

If I would pick the best album of the year, this will be one of my two options.

Aside from making the idea of sisterhood a lot cooler than it actually is, the Haim sisters are actually good at making their music. The expectations on this album were high and they have responded by exceeding all of them.

The success of their singles “Forever” and “Falling” has given Haim enough confidence to push through a well-put together record. Days Are Gone is a compilation of songs that are both sunny and edgy. The record also parades excellent layered vocals, syths, and a kind of signature build-up tailored for radio.

Haim is a force to reckon with. These girls know their material and this album is a testament to that. Days Are Gone is partly a statement (of Haim’s sheer talent) and partly a promise (of future things to come) but mostly, it’s a brilliant record that’s allergic to half-assed production. I’d give 11 out of 10 stars.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Falling, The Wire, If I Could Change Your Mind, Don’t Save Me, and  My Song 5

[Read a full review of this album here.]

And… we’re done here.

To sum it up, my favorite albums of 2013 are:

The Blessed Unrest (Sara Bareilles)
Pure Heroine (Lorde)
Only Human (Tommy & The High Pilots)
Fire Within (Birdy)
The Electric Lady (Janelle Monáe)
Trouble Will Find Me (The National)
The Bones of What You Believe (CHVRCHES)
Paramore (Paramore)
AM (Arctic Monkeys)
BEYONCÉ (Beyoncé)
More Than Just A Dream (Fitz and the Tantrums)
Days Are Gone (Haim)

Please don’t judge my music preferences.

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