2013: The Year In Music

TOP 50 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
TOP 100 TRACKS OF THE YEAR (101-76)
TOP 100 TRACKS OF THE YEAR (75-51)
TOP 100 TRACKS OF THE YEAR (50-26)
TOP 100 TRACKS OF THE YEAR (25-1)
TOP 50 COMPILATIONS & REISSUES

If we look at the events shaping the last twelve months in music it’s easy to claim that 2013 has been the year of the comeback. If over the last years a growing number of retired artists have been finding the way back into business, partly due to the healthy demands of the live circuit and partly because a new generation of bands has yet to be solid enough to replace them in the minds of the fans. This year some of the most recalcitrant retirees have been tempted to return.

It all began with My Bloody Valentine overnight announcement of the two-decades in the making follow-up to ‘Loveless’ was ready for download; the excitement generated by ‘MBV’ and the fact that it didn’t fail to transport you twenty years back in time hasn’t been rivalled during the rest of the year. Coming close and soon afterwards Bowie put an end to a decade long hiatus; Daft Punk conquered the springtime with their first studio album in nearly the same amount of time, where they rescued the sounds of the golden era of US FM radio –the 70’s- and repacked them for the EDM generation; Boards Of Canada also left their mysterious retirement and delivered another excellent album and so on… Through the months Prefab Sprout; Suede; Mazzy Star; Yo La Tengo; Polvo; Throwing Muses and many other former alternative stars, mostly from the 90s, have shaken off the cobwebs with notable results. Even the Pixies ventured to controversially release their first EP of new material; the fact that they did after Kim Deal left the band was received with rejection and terrible reviews.

Against this omnipresence of veiled nostalgia, very few newer artists could compete. And even those who dared aiming at greatness didn’t quite manage to match the scope of their ambitions. Kanye went all minimal electronica and offered a fascinating and disturbing gaze into his chaotic mind in ‘Yeezus’, a boundary pushing effort in parts brilliant, in parts nearly unlistenable; The Knife revealed themselves against Today all-conquering vulgarity with the year’s bravest art statement, or perhaps the biggest piss-take; Arcade Fire flirted with electro pop joining forces with James Murphy and John Grant aided by Gus Gus and Sinead O’Connor released his best collection to date.

Follow-ups by younger acts such as Janelle Monáe; James Blake or Julia Holter managed to keep up with previous achievements, rather than reaching any new heights. Most alarmingly, very few new acts appear among the year’s best records. Savages; Chvrches: Danny Brown; Parquet Courts and Factory Floor are noble exceptions; all of which led to the unquestionable conclusion that Today’s pop is sorely lacking of fresh ideas.

Despite the the industry’s safe playing, the following works were the ones standing up from the crowd and helping to shape this challenging period in popular music.