Vampire Weekend's third album feels a little older and wiser than the previous efforts, still ramshackle and chaotic as it tumbles out of the speakers on tracks like Diane Young but also a little more worldly-wise and heart-breaking. You can hear a growing maturity on tracks such as Hannah Hunt, a song that sounds like the conclusion to Springsteen's Born To Run (or, more likely, Vampire Weekend's own similarly optimistic Run). There was a gritty Gatsby-esque glamour to Modern Vampires Of The City, and it was hard not to be charmed by it's sparkle.
4. Random Access Memories - Daft Punk [review]
Random Access Memories was album almost too big to view up close, better for having a little distance and hype dulled perhaps, though an element of the thrill has innevitably gone. It is deserving of a place on this list, if not at the top, for sheer ambition. Daft Punk blew away all their imitators by making real music and delivering what feels like the last ever conventional 'event record' - something Beyoncé has just rendered all the more obsolete by creating the first real 'event album' of the future. Her staggering eponymous video release dropped with none of the hype or fanfare Columbia threw at Random Access Memories. Both are a pleasure to behold, true widescreen artist visions.
3. Field Of Reeds - These New Puritans [review]
In Field Of Reeds, These New Puritans emerged a considerable musical force, shaking free the shackles of their post-punk revival birth to become one of Britain's most intriguing bands since Radiohead. Field of Reeds sounds like the onset of paranoia or manic depression, and you can forget aggression - as Homeland's Carrie knows, feel psychological anguish doesn't get much scarier than when it is soundtracked by dischordent jazz and classical music.
These New Puritans are at their best when beguiling with approachable yet malicious moments - the delirious cover of Herb Alpert's This Guy's In Love With You, or the ghoulish screaches set against Organ Eternal's spiralling melodies.
2. Immunity - Jon Hopkins [review]
Whether it is whilst it is in the midst of kicking your ass on its more electronic and intense first-half or stoking your heart on the slower, more contemplative latter Jon Hopkins' Immunity was 2013's dance album non-dance fans could dig.
Those stark melodic moments certainly helped - Abandon Window is cinematic and heart-breaking and the closing title track feels like a healing experience. But the album achieves much through structure and pacing, building in intensity from the taught opener We Disappear to the strung out and reeling Collider. In his work with Brian Eno, Hopkins has learnt from the best, and here he shows what you can do when 'the best' makes up your foundations.
1. Cupid Deluxe - Blood Orange [review]
No other album released this years captured the imagination in the way Dev Hynes' second album as Blood Orange did. From the opening sultry come hither eyes of Caroline Polachek's turn on Chamakay (keep watching for her forthcoming rise to R&B mega-stardom... She was last heard providing Beyoncé with her jams) to the empathetic band-aid of a record that is album closer Time Will Tell this is an album that wears its heart and sexuality on its sleeve. And I can't help but love the honesty. Hynes drops heartbreaker after heartbreaker whilst also honing his production style to near-perfection.
The result is an album that never suffers a dull moment. Cupid Deluxe is a gorgeously approachable record, packed with creativity and surprises yet also chock-full of hooks. Full of intelligent self-referential nods to Hynes' own work, there is enough on Cupid Deluxe to keep attentive listeners fascinated.
Yet it is the songs themselves that I will remember. The slow moving balladry of Chosen, a song floating on skipped heartbeats and heavenly sax. The jazzy breaks and 90s raps of Clipped On. The tears that On The Line's relationship difficulties inspires. No other album in 2013 felt so human, and no other album felt so good.
That's it for 2013... Let me know what I missed or what you agree or disagree with, otherwise I'll be back all fresh and excited in 2014.