So This Year

With two hours of 2013 to go, here’s my favourite music of this year—and for the first time in quite a while, almost all of it was from this year as well (all releases below are 2013 unless otherwise indicated). Once again in chronological order of my discovering it, because ranking music is exhausting.

Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (2012), Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe” (2012), and Cher Lloyd, “Want U Back” (2012)

After starting the year listening to Tame Impala, then dabbling with alt-J’s An Awesome Wave (which sent me to sleep, mainly), I fell under the spell of these three towering pop singles of 2012, thanks to the FreakyTrigger Readers’ Poll 2012. So good. The Cher Lloyd song was the lesser hit of the three (number 25 in the UK, compared with 4 for Swift and 1 for Jepsen), but was my favourite (in its rap-less incarnation).

Mike Oldfield, Tubular Beats

Over recent years Oldfield has been working his way through his back catalogue, remastering a pair of albums each year; the Five Miles Out remaster released later in the year was particularly good. But this album of remixes produced in collaboration with German duo York was also terrific. I never would have thought that an electronic remix of Ommadawn would be worthwhile, but it absolutely was. Can’t wait for his new rock album at the end of next month. (York’s own Islanders, with a guest appearance by Oldfield, was also worth a listen.)

David Bowie, The Next Day

It was such an event album that you’ve probably heard all about it, so I won’t go on, but it held up well after all the hype. Not my favourite late-Bowie album—that would be Heathen—but a solid one. It certainly overshadowed Amok by Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace, which I bought the same day and have hardly listened to.

Suede, Bloodsports

The reformation of the best Suede line-up was highly unexpected, but the result was a classic, my third-favourite album of theirs after Coming Up and Dog Man Star. If only it hadn’t tailed off towards the end, it could have vied for second place. It stood in stark contrast to another indie comeback album at the time, the House of Love’s She Paints Words in Red.

Divinyls, “Don’t Wanna Do This”, “Asphyxiated” and “All Pretty Things” (2007)

The death in April of Australian rock giant Chrissie Amphlett was a shock (and there’s a long half-finished entry about her that I really should finish off), but at least it alerted me to these 2007 tracks, the first fruits of a Divinyls comeback album that never eventuated and now never will.

Frank Eddie, Let’s Be Frank (2012)

Fred Deakin’s first album of properly Lemon Jelly-esque music post-Jelly, and a sweet and not at all wobbly confection it is. The kids played this a lot.

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

Worth a spot just for Peter Serafinowicz’s fan video of the ubiquitous “Get Lucky”. A good album, if overlong in places.

The Duckworth Lewis Method, Sticky Wickets

One excellent side-project album about cricket is unexpected enough, but two? And yet the Method’s second album has almost as many fine moments as the first, and “Nudging and Nurdling” was for a while one of the most-played tracks on my iPod, thanks to its broad appeal to all ages (or at least ages 2-45).

John Newman, “Love Me Again”, and Rudimental, Home

The best number one UK single of the year introduced me to the only album the neo-Northern Soulster had appeared on at that point, as vocalist on Rudimental’s 2012 hit “Feel the Love” (the Newman-less “Waiting All Night” was another stand-out). My son subsequently became obsessed with both songs and a handful of other Newman tracks, so we heard little else in December. This week I’ve finally picked up his debut album, Tribute, which stands up well.

Elliott Smith, “True Love” (Unreleased)

Among all the coverage of the tenth anniversary of his death was a link to this outstanding track, inexplicably not included on his posthumous album.

Arcade Fire, Reflektor

Album of the year, no question.

Swede Mason, “Masterchef Synesthesia (Buttery Biscuit Bass)” (2011)

This was the funniest mashup video I’d seen in ages, and the song worked surprisingly well without the images. Belated song of the year? Could be.

Lawson, “Taking Over Me”, Chapman Square/Chapter II (2012/13)

This one is for my son, who has played the album a dozen or more times since Santa left it in his stocking. Decent indie-ish boyband pop-rock; this was their first top-three single. The second, “Juliet”, is also pretty catchy.

Also-rans: Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City (“Diane Young” was great, the rest less-so); Manic Street Preachers, Rewind the Film (mid-range Manics); Goldfrapp, Tales of Us (in their best mellow mode, but a bit slight); Jake Bugg, Jake Bugg (2012) (“Lightning Bolt” struck me at last); Woob, Ultrascope (deep space ambient—Vangelis meets the Inception soundtrack).

31 December 2013 · Music