This is the second part of my Best Albums of 2013 list. The first part, containing albums #24 to #21, can be read here.
20. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
I hadn’t paid any attention at all to Chvrches before The Bones of What You Believe was released, so the album took me somewhat by surprise; I went in expecting little more than catchy dance-pop and found a resonant and frequently moving record instead. Lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry, who could be Emily Haines’ kid sister, brings unexpected darkness and depth to the exhilarating rush of “We Sink” and “The Mother We Share.”
19. Kanye West – Yeezus
Yeezus is not the easiest album to love, or even like; indeed, the most preferable way of listening may be to hold it at arms’ length. The only real way to listen to this record, however, is to engage with it on its own terms, and it’s then that you realize how emotional, irreverent, startling, contradictory, bizarre and deeply personal Yeezus is.
18. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Despite Random Access Memories’ technology-inspired title and its creators’ strict adherence to anonymity (as the controversy over a helmetless photo of Daft Punk on Twitter last year illustrates), it’s actually one of the most personable records released last year, with a willingness to experiment and an excellent lineup of collaborators.
17. Lorde – Pure Heroine
I wouldn’t go so far as to label Pure Heroine as “anti-pop” (by which I mean the opposite of pop, not a criticism of the genre), but its relatively short length, unfussy arrangements and overall sense of restraint made Lorde’s debut a change of pace from the occasionally overindulgent records put out by many Top 40 artists this year.
16. She & Him – Volume 3
With Volume 3, Zooey Deschanel once again proves her status as one of the most underrated songwriters working in indie pop today. The originals on Volume 3, along with a few well-chosen covers (including a poignant rendition of "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me"), show a further refinement of the blend of '60s pop and country that has always characterized Deschanel and M. Ward's work. Deschanel's enviable gift for breezy yet insightful lyrics and earworm choruses is on full display in such highlights as "Turn to White," "Something's Haunting You" and the rollicking "I Could've Been Your Girl."
Head below the fold for albums #15 to #11.