The Best Albums of 2013

It’s that time of year again. Time for me pretend like I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the sinking ship that is the global recording industry and list the albums that made my toe tap the most all year long, from tap-tap to tippety-tappety-tip-tap-tap.

This is the eighth year I’ve compiled such a list. Here are the previous ones:

2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006

It’s neat to go back and see how many of my previous “favorite” albums are still in my listening rotation. Quite a few, actually. So here’s 2013!

Warning: You won’t find any Robin Thicke, Rihanna, or Miley on this list. If that’s your idea of the best that 2013 had to offer, this list is not for you. How the heck did you find this page anyway? What, do you watch MTV or something??? OK, enough stalling. Here we go. No excuses. No explanations. Just my favorite albums from the past 12 months:


10. Disclosure – Settle


Slinky enough for the club, down-tempo enough for a rooftop soiree, Settle traverses boundaries and expectations. [Delusions of Adequacy]

9. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Trouble Will Find Me

The National are such a powerfully gifted band, they need no theatrics to deliver an absolutely stone-cold beast of an album. With the music that is on here there is yet another thirteen songs to savor and salivate over until the next batch of songs comes about. [Entertainment Weekly]

8. Haim – Days Are Gone

Days Are Gone

With the triumvirate of googly-eyed rhythms, sinfully catchy melodies and a breeziness that seems only fitting, they’ve served up one of the most auspicious debuts of the year. [Beats Per Minute]

7. M.I.A. – Matangi


Her child-like rhymes may seem like she’s only toying with playground politics but she knows exactly where her strengths are; Matangi is a tribute to those talents and it’s an unmitigated thrill. Dissident, deviant, “mili-tent”; Cookie cutter pop star she is not, but a true great she absolutely is. [The Line of Best Fit]

6. Guster – Live Acoustic

Live Acoustic

Great vocal harmonies and unusual percussion are just a couple of things that set this band apart; for you drum and backbeat enthusiasts out there, percussion is lively and interesting on all of the sixteen tracks found on “Live Acoustic.” [musicalnewsandviews]

5. Atoms for Peace – Amok


Awash with beats, rhythms, electronics, the occasional guitar and Yorke’s soaring if still mostly unintelligible tenor, Amok is a record to get sonically lost within, a work whose every measure teems with a quality and a precision that only musicians at the top of their game can touch. [Los Angeles Times]

4. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Random Access Memories

By assembling a cast of their favourite musicians and delving into their adolescent memories, Daft Punk have created something as emotionally honest as any singer-songwriter confessional–and a lot more fun to dance to. [New Musical Express]

3. Arctic Monkeys – AM


In the end AM not only signifies a career-defining moment that neatly places the band on a proper pedestal for all to admire–this is where not only Arctic Monkeys have come but in many ways, how they’ve masterfully conquered and continue to simply win. [Delusions of Adequacy]

2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City

Each verse/chorus/bridge/​intro melody, each lyric straight or knotty, each sound effect playful or perverse (or both)‑-each is pleasurable in itself and aptly situated in the sturdy songs and tracks, so that the whole signifies without a hint of concept. [Expert Witness]

1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor


There is so, so much content, so beautifully and flawlessly presented that it can be baffling at times. The Suburbs, to many, was decade-defining music. Reflektor, I feel, through both content and design, will be artist-defining. [Prefix Magazine]

Honorable mention:
Original Soundtrack – Frozen
Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle
Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
2013 Broadway Cast Recording – Pippin
Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
David Bowie – The Next Day
Bill Callahan – Dream River
Phosphorescent – Muchacho

Do you have any favorites from this year that I may have missed? Leave me a comment and let me know!

6 thoughts on “The Best Albums of 2013

    1. Yeah, and with Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend at the top of the chart, this feels a bit like 2010 all over again, just a bit more mature.

      It’s funny, I probably like Vampire Weekend better as a band (I’d choose to see them in concert first!), but I recognize the Arcade Fire albums as being slightly better albums. Whatever. They’re all winners!!

  1. Hit my average 3 of 10 ever hearing of the groups.
    Extra credit for owning Arcade Fire CD

    Did you see Colbert’s Daft Punk bit? It’s the funniest thing he’s ever done.

    HAPPY New Year

    1. Good job on scoring 3, Phil! For what it’s worth, I had only heard of 7/10 before 2013 started.

      I did see that Colbert bit. And you’re right, it was classic.

        1. Lorde had one great song that got overplayed, but the rest of the album is not nearly as strong (and I think she’s from New Zealand). Royal Concept hasn’t even come out with an album (just that one single that everyone knows from the FIFA videogame).

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