2013’s Best Albums

2013 has seen some fantastic releases in the music world, from sonic veterans returning to the game after a long absence to new artists making waves with their impressive debuts. To celebrate another great year for music, Basti Menkes gives you his favourite albums and songs released this year.

1. Jon Hopkins - Immunity

I’d have to scan back several years to find an album that struck me as being as beautiful and downright perfect as Jon Hopkin’s Immunity. From the opening glitches of “We Disappear” to the final sighing piano chords of “Immunity,” this is an hour of organic and intimate electronica. Beats, basslines and piano notes wrap around one another with stunning precision, painting pictures as vivid as they are emotional. If you are going to pick up just one album from 2013, make it this one.

Recommended tracks: “Open Eye Signal,” “Form By Firelight”

2. Sigur Rós - Kveikur

After making celestial, nature-documentary-ready post-rock for nigh on two decades, where were Sigur Rós to go next? After treading water somewhat with their oceanic sixth LP Valtari, people began to conclude that Iceland’s biggest band had run out of steam. Cue Kveikur, their stunning and surprisingly dark seventh album. By throwing some blacker, heavier ingredients against their customary heavenly sounds, they brought tension and excitement back to their music. The near-perfect Kveikur is one the best albums Sigur Rós have made, and among the year’s finest records.

Recommended tracks: “Brennisteinn,” “Rafstraumur”

3. My Bloody Valentine - m b v

Of all the musical comebacks we saw this year, My Bloody Valentine comes out on top as the most anticipated, and the most satisfying. Though it lacks the turbulence and the genre-defining spark of Loveless, m b v is ultimately a more personal LP. By reeling in the guitars somewhat and incorporating a wider array of influences, the shoegazers made what I would call their most beautiful album.

Recommended tracks: “Only Tomorrow,” “In Another Way”

4. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

After the sterile and disappointing Human After All, Daft Punk returned in 2013 with Random Access Memories, a space opera of an album consisting of nostalgic funk, shimmering prog and retro electronica. By recruiting some of their musical heroes of the past (Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams) and the present (Julian Casablancas, Panda Bear), Daft Punk made a timeless LP that feels simultaneously backward- and forward-looking. Though it lacks the adrenalin of their more electronic work, Random Access Memories makes up for that in its diversity and sonic flawlessness.

Recommended tracks: “Lose Yourself To Dance,” “Doin’ It Right”

5. David Bowie - The Next Day

Nobody expected David Bowie’s twenty-fourth studio album to be anything special. Expectations ranged from passable at best to cringeworthy at worst. But as we all discovered, The Next Day is among the 66-year-old’s finest bodies of work, a tour de force of thrilling art rock and melancholic emotion. Retrospective without being mawkish, autobiographical without being narcissistic, dark without being dreary, The Next Day is, quite frankly, a masterpiece.

Recommended tracks: “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die,” “Valentine’s Day”
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2013.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 6th October 2013 by Basti Menkes.