The 20 Best Albums of 2013

12/18/2013 4:00 AM |

==== 8 ====
No Age
An Object


No Age’s most thoughtful work, a labor of love and laudable money-where-their-mouth-is DIY lifestyle power move, became maybe the least buzzy of their career—some kinda crummy failure of karma, there. Dean Spunt’s singing, long the group’s weakest element, is finally used as an advantage. He achieves a Joey-Ramone-in-ballad-mode vulnerability in some spots and an egghead Eno remove in others. Though it never becomes a pale copy of a specific time or place, this is art-punk like the early 80s used to make. Key Track: “An Impression”  — JK

==== 7 ====
Julia Holter
Loud City Song


The LA singer-songwriter’s second excellent record in two years is more refined than the pretty-yet-alien home recordings on her last one. Working for the first time in a proper studio, she eschews the dizzy layering of previous material to achieve the more deliberate impression of a performer performing in real time. It flirts with drama club staginess, but ends up at elegant artifice, cycling through different sets and scenes, gliding through rooms and moods. Not hung up on stuffy conceptualizing, it’s a playful bit of make-believe. Key Track: “In the Green Wild”  — JK

==== 6 ====
Mikal Cronin


The warm, deceptively serious garage-rock of Cronin’s sophomore solo release makes use of the genre’s worn-in familiarity but also rails against its stereotypical apathy, turning inner turmoil into effervescent pop. “Do I even know what I’m waiting for?/No, I want it now/Do I need it though?” Cronin asks on the standout “Shout It Out.” For anyone who needed to be reminded of the unrelenting power of an unadorned rock song, he delivered 10 times over. Key Track: “Weight”  — LB

==== 5 ====
Sky Ferreira
Night Time, My Time


Ferreira’s persistent label troubles and professionally dictated personality transplants can’t be ignored because her debut album addresses them directly. She assigns blame in-song, both inward and outward. After trying out all the others, the sound she settled on was noise-distressed bubblegum, a vibe so perfect that the shadow of past events pales in comparison to the different, deeper shadow she picked as a new home base. Repeated listens nudged this record from “surprisingly good” to “shockingly great,” giving it dual status as instant pleasure and slow-burn grower. It worships Madonna and Chan Marshall at adjacent altars. It’s an old fashioned ”Pop/Rock” record, as if the two were still totally entwined, but it still feels somehow modern. All of this still seems super unlikely! Let us behold the fleeting unicorn! Key Track: “You’re Not the One”  — JK

2 Comment