The 40 best albums of 2013

Sorry Jay Z, Daft Punk and Gaga… you just didn't cut it. Here are the records that excited our ears this year

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From glorious comebacks to stunning debuts, 2013 has given us plenty of records to get excited about. The Time Out Music Team have crunched the numbers and argued the toss to put together this list of the year's very best albums. Every single one is worth a listen.

Not keen on our choice of album of the year? Think we've missed one of this year's masterpieces? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

  1. 40-11
  2. The Top 10
  • Melt Yourself Down – 'Melt Yourself Down'

    Whatever you think of the word ‘skronky’, nothing else comes close to describing the sheer sax appeal of this extraordinary debut. Led by the twin horns of avant-jazz luminaries Pete Wareham and Shabaka Hutchings, sort-of-supergroup MYD stomped triumphantly through eight maximal tracks which liquefied raw funk, post-punk, Afrobeat and analogue bleepery into a heady voodoo-jazz gumbo. Powerful stuff indeed. James Manning



  • Arcade Fire – 'Reflektor'

    Those people who don’t ‘get’ Arcade Fire often complain that they’re too arty and sad. This year, the Montreal quintet responded by making something arty and sad – but with bongos! The Montreal quintet took inspiration from Haitian voodoo drumming and New York disco chic for their fourth album, and brought their obsession with the afterlife onto the dancefloor in superbly stylish fashion. No other band makes high-concept brilliance seem this easy. Jonny Ensall





    (Photo: © JF Lalond)

  • Parquet Courts – 'Light Up Gold'

    Midway through 2013 this Brooklyn three-piece were buzzier than a Buzzfeed article about buzzards. Yet, at the end of the year, their gut-punch of a debut record still sounds like the future of rock ’n’ roll. ‘Light Up Gold’ is as fast as a speeding subway car and tight as a well-rolled joint. It’s also as irreverent as… whatever: some simile that can’t match up to the pure, youthful energy of a truly great LP. Jonny Ensall



  • Jon Hopkins – 'Immunity'

    London producer Hopkins had been making works of minor genius for a while (and working with Coldplay), but ‘Immunity’ was his masterpiece – an LP that showed how well musical virtuosity could work against metallic electronic production. The whole thing lumbers, burps and wails like a giant, clunking robot with a beating human heart. A unique and remarkable epic. Jonny Ensall

    Buy this album on Amazon | Buy this album on iTunes

    Read our full review of 'Immunity'
     


  • King Krule – '6 Feet Beneath the Moon'

    It took 19-year-old south London grumbler Archy Marshall seven years to pull ‘6 Feet…’ together, but boy was it worth the wait. His 14-track lament to life’s pitfalls neatly packed roughshod riffs (as on single ‘Easy Easy’) beside plaintive post-dubstep and intricate jazzy rhythms. Add in the carrot-topped crooner’s surprisingly sombre baritone, and this debut album was simply captivating. Danielle Goldstein



  • Kelela – 'Cut 4 Me'

    LA singer Kelela Mizanekristos stole our hearts with a mixtape that finally made the much-vaunted idea of ‘future R&B’ come good. Like a technoid Sade, her cooing vocals were given a dystopian edge by producers from London clique Night Slugs. The result proved a dream marriage between sugary pop and dancefloor-honed production that easily trumped London Grammar’s hazy bedroom beats. Oliver Keens





    (Photo: © Matt Fry)

  • My Bloody Valentine – 'mbv'

    How do you follow up a classic LP? Easy: don’t rush it. It’s been 22 years since the band released their masterpiece ‘Loveless’, but we forgave the wait after one listen of ‘mbv’. The shoegazing pioneers’ often-imitated mix of screaming guitars, churning drums and breathy vocals sounded as monolithic and intimate as ever on this luscious follow-up. If they have another album this good in store, we’re happy to wait until 2035. James Manning



    (Photo: © Flickr/Josh Bis)

  • David Bowie – 'The Next Day'

    Christmas actually came on January 8 this year – the day the world woke to discover David Bowie had cut his first single in ten years. While the song (‘Where Are We Now’) was an unexpected treat, the LP has been the gift that’s kept on giving. ‘The Next Day’ was loaded with blazing riffs, choruses that felt like old friends – not to mention sleaze unbecoming of most senior citizens. From the tender glam of ‘Valentine’s Day’ to the balls-out rock of ‘(You Will) Set the World on Fire’, Bowie proved he can still craft songs the way Fabergé crafted eggs. Oliver Keens

    Buy this album on Amazon | Buy this album on iTunes

    Read our full review of 'The Next Day'



  • Arctic Monkeys – 'AM'

    The Sheffield quartet have grown from boys to men. Their riffs have become heavier, they’ve been styled to within an inch of their lives and their sex appeal has shot through the roof. What remains at the core of the Arctics’ charm, however, is Alex Turner’s way with words: a mix of poetry and prose that creates a singular connection with the listener. On their fifth album ‘AM’, the focus was on tales of titillation and unrequited lust, accentuated by pulsating rhythms and arresting falsetto. It took our breath away in September. In December, we’re still a little short. Danielle Goldstein

    Buy this album on Amazon | Buy this album on iTunes

    Read our full review of 'AM'


    (Photo: © Sebastian Kim)

  • Disclosure – 'Settle'

    The economy’s down the toilet, youth unemployment is skyrocketing, rents are extortionate... how do we cope? Simple: dance through it.

    It may sound trivial, but we’ve danced hard in hard times before. Jazz thrived during the Great Depression, New York invented disco when the city almost went bankrupt in the ’70s, and the UK’s rave scene exploded during the recession of the early ’90s. Fast forward to 2013 and we desperately needed one brilliant dance album to rally behind. Disclosure’s ‘Settle’ answered that call handsomely.

    Mixing the soul of 2-step garage, the deep grooves of ’90s house and the fingerlicking addictiveness of perfect pop, Guy and Howard Lawrence overcame major hurdles to make their debut the album of the year. One obstacle was their age (21 and 18 respectively) – remarkable in an artform that gets older every year. Another was the format itself. Dance music rarely works across a whole LP, yet ‘Settle’ magically kept pumping across all 14 tracks. From the urgent preacher vocals of opener ‘When a Fire Starts to Burn’ to the shimmering sway of ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’, every last calorie of energy was used trying to make the listener shake their ass.

    Not that it’s solely a club record – far from it. ‘Settle’ was stuffed to the gills with crossover chart hits that’ll define 2013 for years to come. If you saw Disclosure at any of the 39 festivals (we counted) they played this summer, you’ll have seen the unabashed joy singles like ‘Latch’, ‘White Noise’, ‘You & Me’ and ‘F For You’ brought to heaving tents and packed fields.

    There’s a time for acoustic earnestness, rock posturing or whiny introspection, but 2013 simply wasn’t that kind of year. Disclosure helped us face the music and dance in style. Oliver Keens

    Buy this album on Amazon | Buy this album on iTunes

    Read our original review of 'Settle' | Read our interview with Disclosure



    (Photo: © Scott Wishart)

Melt Yourself Down – 'Melt Yourself Down'

Whatever you think of the word ‘skronky’, nothing else comes close to describing the sheer sax appeal of this extraordinary debut. Led by the twin horns of avant-jazz luminaries Pete Wareham and Shabaka Hutchings, sort-of-supergroup MYD stomped triumphantly through eight maximal tracks which liquefied raw funk, post-punk, Afrobeat and analogue bleepery into a heady voodoo-jazz gumbo. Powerful stuff indeed. James Manning



  1. 40-11
  2. The Top 10

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Users say

6 comments
Real Torque
Real Torque

Mark my friend, a valid opinion but completely disagree! I wanted to love R.A.M. and although it's technically brilliant, the actual songs themselves are forgettable. By the time 2014 begins you won't hear the album again, apart from deodorant ads about spotty teenage boys getting lucky... Great list Time Out. A few familiar names and a lot of new ones. Look forward to discovering some good news music.

Mark Mywords
Mark Mywords

How can you not have one of the greatest albums of the decade in there? Daft Punk will come back to haunt you, hipsters. "Too commercial, sick of that 'Get Lucky' not going to vote for that!" Yes, I know what you were thinking...

Jean
Jean

I always like reading Time Out London but feel quite annoyed, as a Canadian (who enjoy returning to visit U.K.regularly), when you put some "Spotify" links. Spotify is not available everywhere so please keep in mind that some of your readers might not live in U.K. Some links on Soundcloud or other sites that won't have stupid territorial issues would be better.

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