Our Top 5 Albums Of 2013
by Lizzie Hatfield
1. Bastille - Bad Blood
This time last year, Bastille were just starting to make themselves known after the release of their third single, Flaws. After their first two single releases, Overjoyed and Bad Blood, were pretty much ignored by the UK charts, Flaws gave the band the first bit of recognition that they well and truly deserved. Yet peaking at Number 21 is a very different story from the kind of success that Bastille have achieved a year on. After the release of their debut, Bad Blood, in March of this year, the boys’ fanbase seems to be increasing exponentially. It is remarkable how quickly their status changed from relatively unknown, to selling out London tour dates within minutes, and it all happened in the wake of their album release. It’s not hard to understand why; Bastille seem to have combined several genres, mixing string sections, bombastic percussion and Dan Smith’s almost choir-like vocals to create an eclectic sound that somehow falls smack bang into the middle of mainstream pop music. This album contains at least one track that everyone can enjoy, and truly deserves the Number 1 title for Best Album; I can’t think of another act this year that have catapulted to such success off the back of their debut effort.
2. Disclosure - Settle
It’s hard to fault Disclosure’s debut effort. Critically acclaimed from the moment of it’s release, Settle was rated 4 or 5 stars across the board with Pitchfork claiming it to be “2013’s best dance record… one of the most assured, confident debuts from any genre in recent memory.” Unbelievably, I find it impossible to disagree with this account. Despite being far from a house music fan, Disclosure easily takes the Number 2 spot for Best Album in my eyes. The Lawrence brothers have made a formerly niche genre completely accessible to the mainstream by almost redefining it - a ludicrously successful feat considering their young age. Featuring a ridiculous amount of chart-topping singles including Latch, You And Me, and White Noise to name a few, the album is also loaded with guest features from the likes of Jessie Ware, Friendly Fires’ Ed McFarlane and Eliza Doolittle. A must-listen for any fan of dance music.
3. Haim - Days Are Gone
I’ve rambled on about how great Haim are before, and I’ll do it again. Announced as the winners of BBC’s Sound of 2013 at the beginning of the year, I certainly think that they lived up to the title with the release of debut, Days Are Gone. Bringing a fresh mix of Fleetwood Mac combined with 80s synths, eclectic percussion and flawless harmonies, Haim have created a new, unique sound that fits right into a musical gap in the market. The brilliant thing about Haim, and something that seems oh so hard to do in the contemporary music scene, is that they’ve created a coherent, signature sound that anyone could immediately recognise as them without making all of their songs sound the same. A simple yet remarkable achievement at the same time. What’s even more exciting is that this album holds its own, yet is bursting with potential; I can’t wait to see what Haim will produce in the future.
4. London Grammar - If You Wait
London Grammar arrived on the music scene out of nowhere in 2013. For a few months, I just knew them as that band that did a feature on Disclosure’s album until around July when I was driving on the M25 and Radio 1 delighted me by playing Strong. Admittedly I was probably a little bit behind on the hype, having somehow dodged both Metal And Dust and Wasting My Young Years that had been released earlier in the year. But I was immediately converted into being a huge fan, as Hannah Reid’s ghostly vocals filled by car over haunting piano. Admittedly, the majority of London Grammar’s magic emanates from Reid’s vocals; if Florence Welch, Lana Del Rey and Annie Lennox had a lovechild, they’d definitely sound like this. I wouldn’t say If You Wait is the Best Album of the year - occasionally their formula can be a little same-y. But for a debut effort, the outcome is emotional, beautiful, and fills me with excitement for what’s to come from the trio.
5. Darwin Deez - Songs For Imaginative People
Forget Best Album of the year, Songs For Imaginative People definitely takes the cake for Happiest Album. Every track has an insanely upbeat riff and quirky nonsensical lyrics that are somehow relatable. Stand out tracks include You Can’t Be My Girl and Alice both of which are incredibly catchy, zany, and incorporate the signature Deez sound of warbling vocals over awkward drum beats and plunky guitars. My favourite thing about the album is that the personality of Darwin Deez that lights up their live performances comes bursting through in their studio recordings; perhaps this is because the record was independently recorded (another impressive feat). Not quite as good as their self-titled debut from 2010, but still a wonderful effort which has probably surprised the majority of you by making it into my Top 5.