Best of 2013: Best albums of 2013

Our Music team rounds up the year's choicest releases, including LPs from breakout pop stars, resurgent metal titans, country songbirds and, oh yeah, some guy named Kanye West.

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Every serious music fan knows that consensus is a myth, but in the interest of concision, dear reader, the Time Out New York Music team has attempted the impossible: boiling down our three disparate year-end top 10s into a single definitive list. Sure, you'll find critical faves like Kanye's Yeezus and Haim's Days Are Gone, but niche picks like the latest from Kacey Musgraves, Phosphorescent and Carcass also made strong showings. Click through to see the full spread, and see below for each critic's individual ballot.

  • Click the right arrow on the image above to view the top ten albums of 2013.

  • 10. Earl Sweatshirt, Doris

    Part three of the Odd Future success story (after Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean), Sweatshirt’s major-label debut showed him to be equal parts mysterious like Frank and gross teenager à la Tyler. Doris has a dark, easy swing to it; says Sweatshirt, “I’m just trying to make pretty music.”—Sophie Harris

  • 9. Phosphorescent, Muchacho

    Man, Matthew Houck can really make you feel blue—and the Alabama song man did just that on his fifth album as Phosphorescent, only this time mixing it with spacy sweetness and ecstatic disco. Qué hombre.—Sophie Harris

  • 8. Ashley Monroe, Like a Rose

    A sweetly thrilling, occasionally heartbreaking voice of experience to Kacey Musgraves’s clued-in innocence, Monroe teamed up with producer Vince Gill for this platterful of lived-in stories about women coping with bad economic times and worse romantic prospects, saturated with heart, humor and sunny warmth.—Steve Smith

  • 7. Arcade Fire, Reflektor

    This concept-driven double album is overblown in places, and even lyrically lazy in spots (with lines like “Down on my knees, begging you please”)—but when Mr. and Mrs. Arcade Fire and their Montreal crew get it right, the results are glitter-ball dazzling. And yes: bongos.—Sophie Harris

  • 6. RVIVR, The Beauty Between

    Guitarist-singers Erica Freas and Mattie Canino bundled together pro-queer battle cries and dispatches from the front lines of almost-adulthood on this Roman candle of a punk LP—the embodiment of DIY rock’s scruffy utopian ideal.—Hank Shteamer

  • 5. Kanye West, Yeezus

    There’s a reason why we spent more time talking about Yeezus than any other record in 2013: because it was the best album released this year—and in recent memory. Read Lou Reed’s beautifully written assessment (thetalkhouse.com/reviews/view/lou-reed), or just revel in the madness of the “Bound 2” video, and realize that you will never truly understand Mr. West—nor do you want to.—Sophie Harris

  • 4. Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park

    Arguably the most genuinely groundbreaking country album of the year, Same Trailer Different Park limned the finest nuances of making a life in Grassroots USA circa now, with dreams of better days lent penetrating force by Musgraves’s crystalline voice and memorable tunes.—Steve Smith

  • 3. Carcass, Surgical Steel

    What could have been an exercise in by-the-numbers nostalgia turned into a gripping extreme-metal insta-classic thanks to the blackly comic venom of frontman Jeff Walker and the hard-rock-gone-grindcore savvy of guitarist Bill Steer.—Hank Shteamer

  • 2. Haim, Days Are Gone

    Virtuoso chops? Dizzying vocal arrangements? Club-ready production values? Done, done and done. But it was the strength of the songs—nearly every track felt like an anthem we’d loved for years—that made this L.A. sister act’s debut the pop triumph of 2013.—Hank Shteamer

  • 1. Black Sabbath, 13

    Despite years of inconsistent lineups and wavering inspiration, as well as what could have been a deal-breaking split with drummer Bill Ward, three founding Sabs decisively reclaimed their heavy-metal throne—and Ozzy’s long-lost dignity—with a brooding epic redolent of past glories yet solidly of the moment.—Steve Smith

    FINAL GRADE: A  Hard to remember a recent year with a stronger stylistic spread.

Click the right arrow on the image above to view the top ten albums of 2013.




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