Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Top Albums of 2013 #10-#1

As I mentioned yesterday, this list has been incredibly hard to narrow down. The musical delights on offer across 2013 have surpassed any year since I started up Keep Pop Loud in 2008. Because of this I've been far too busy listening to music to have had the time to sit down and write.

But traditions are traditions, and I've no idea how to feel festive if I'm not fretting over my end of year list. So here's my Top 10 Albums of 2013. All of the below come highly recommend.

10. Summer Camp – Summer Camp
Summer Camp achieve pop perfection many times across their self-titled second album, most obviously on singles 'Fresh' and 'Two Chords'. Disco is a clear influence on what they're doing, but at times they flit around this with every track showcasing Elizabeth Sankey's incredible vocal talent. The record as a whole may take a few listens to sink in, but the time invested pays vast dividends as the songs take root in yr heart.

09. Tullycraft – Lost In Light Rotation
Picked up on a whim, and after seeing a recommendation from Eddie Argos on Twitter, Lost In Light Rotation has introduced me into the world of Tullycraft. And it's a wonderful place to be. Upbeat indiepop from Seattle, it references bis and is better served with a listen to the below than it is by any description I can offer up.

08. British Sea Power – Machineries Of Joy
I doubt that British Sea Power have a bad record in them, but Machineries Of Joy is stunning even by their standards. It's their most considered record and yet sounds completely fresh; a rare feat for a band a decade and 5 albums into their career. Machineries... has also marked a creative surge for BSP, who followed the album with a stand alone single and a soundtrack album, none of which was anything less than excellent.

07. Suede – Bloodsports
Sorry Bowie, but of all the unlikely albums to have been released this year it's Suede's creative rejuvenation that has been the most satisfying. To say Bloodsports is better than their last two pre-split albums is saying very little. However to say that this is fit to stand alongside their first two classics and actually betters their Britpop high Coming Up is saying a great deal. But it's deserved praise and an LP that you really should pick up.

06. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
This one was a long time coming too, wasn't it? Franz Ferdinand are nowhere near as prolific as we'd like, but this only has the effect of making each album seem like so much more of an event. Right Thoughts strips the Franz sound right back to it's basics and results in arguably their strongest set of songs since their debut. 'Stand On The Horizon' plays with disco, whilst 'Love Illumination' stomps with a swagger that's been sorely missing on the pop scene. Please don't leave it as long next time, chaps.

05. The Superman Revenge Squad Band – There Is Nothing More Frightening Than The Passing Of Time
As a fan of the sole Nosferatu D2 record I held off listening to The Superman Revenge Squad Band in the knowledge that there was no way that it could live up to standards that Ben Parker had set himself. And how wrong I was. There Is Nothing More Frightening... is as good as We're Gonna Walk Around This City... and gave me a right emotional walloping. Indeed there is nothing more frightening than the passing of time, and I have actually found myself regressing lately. With each emotional crisis on the record framed with popular culture references, it's no wonder that I fell for this one.

04. Public Service Broadcasting - Inform - Educate - Entertain
Easily the most unique record that I've been fortunate to hear, not just this year, but this decade. The innovative use of samples and impossible to pin down cross-genre music that it's layered over could easily have resulted in a mess, but with a deft hand and talent for songcraft Public Service Broadcasting created a record that was both creatively leftfield and emotionally resonant. A record that proudly displays an optimism for humanity and through recontextualising the past shows us what we can and should be able to achieve in the future.

03. Los Campesinos! - NO BLUES
With a bit more time to live with it we might actually be able to consider NO BLUES as Los Campesinos!'s best album. The football metaphors that should grate serve to elevate the lyrics and for the fist time allow me some understanding of what some people see in the sport. Musically the band are on a form that we've never seen before, with everything coming together absolutely perfectly, be it on the slower numbers or the throw-everything-at-the-wall pop smash that is 'Avocado, Baby'. It''s already a classic in my books.

02. CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe
There is very little to separate this album from the number 1 on the list. With CHVRCHES coming second only because it's a more recent release. The best debut album that I've heard in the past few years, it kicks off with bona-fide hit 'The Mother We Share' and doesn't dip in quality for a moment. 'Tether' is gripping, 'The Night Sky' soars, 'You Caught The Light' closes the record with understated perfection. The Bones Of What You Believe helps to confirm that this whole pop music thing is actually bloody worthwhile and is already one of my favourite albums of all time.

01. Tegan And Sara – Heartthrob
But it has to be Heartthrob that tops this list. I couldn't see it any other way. From repeated streams of 'Closer' prior to the album's release I knew there as no way I'd fail to enjoy this album. What I couldn't have predicted was just how good it would be and how often I'd listen to it. One night early in 2013 saw me listen to this record more times than I listened to most of the records that appeared in last years' list. It gets played in car journeys and when I'm kicking about the house. It cheers me up when I'm down and sets the tone when I'm doing good. It always works, to the extent that when in 2013 I've not been able to decide what to listen to I've defaulted to this. There's few albums that scream POP as much as Heartthrob and in these last 12 months there's been none better.

Stay tuned to Twitter and Tumblr where I'll be counting down my songs of the year.

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