Best of 2013

How we made the list

To pull together the Best of 2013 list, we did a sweep of sources including the BBC, NME, The Guardian, Pitchfork, Q, Rock Sound, The Observer, The Independent, Resident Advisor, The Telegraph and Drowned in Sound.

After scouring ratings and reviews for hundreds of releases we came out of a small room with this list - our top 100 picks of the most acclaimed albums of the year.

Best of 2012

Jessie Ware
Discover the top 100 albums of 2012 in our Best of 2012 feature.

Best of 2011

Bon Iver
Discover the top 100 albums of 2011 in our Best of 2011 feature.

Best of 2013

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Our top 100 of the most acclaimed albums of 2013, as published on December 6, 2013.

1. AM Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys "Arctic Monkeys’ fifth record is absolutely and unarguably the most incredible album of their career. It might also be the greatest record of the last decade." raves NME. Recorded over a year in California and featuring Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and The Coral’s former guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones it charted at number one on September 15 making Arctic Monkeys the first band on an independent label to have their first five albums debuting at number one on the UK album chart. Describing the album’s sound Alex Turner told NME "It sounds like a Dr Dre beat, but we've given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.". In addition to being nominated for 2013’s Mercury Prize, AM received praise for the band’s move to embrace new influences with The Guardian enthusing "there is a depth – a willingness to experiment, a refusal to be pigeonholed – that rewards repeated listens and makes this their most coherent, most satisfying album since their debut.".
• "...they’re still the same old Monkeys. Just dressed up slicker and sexier." The Fly, "This is exciting, audacious work" Mojo
CD ( £7.99) | Vinyl ( £16.56) | MP3 ( £7.09) | More from Arctic Monkeys
2. We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic Foxygen
Foxygen The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, The Kinks; arguably some of the 20th Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, are all in this debut album from Californian rock duo Foxygen. Some listeners may find it irksome at first to hear a young band brazenly wearing their influences on their sleeves, but if you’re going to pay homage to anyone through your music then those three iconic groups are a great place to start. We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic is delivered at pace (less than 37 minutes) and with swagger seamlessly flitting between garage, indie and psych-rock. The first half of the album is where you’ll find a couple of early classics in the making, in the form of “San Francisco” and “No Destruction”, and serves a reminder that the album belongs to the kids of today as well as the rock gods of yesteryear.
• "Pushes the boundaries of the psych-pop revival." Mojo, "Genuine musical brilliance and weirdness." NME
CD ( £5.99) | Vinyl ( £17.47) | MP3 ( ) | More from Foxygen
3. Random Access Memories Daft Punk
Daft Punk Propelling a 1970s disco style into the 21st century mysterious French electronic DJ duo Daft Punk finally provide us with certainly the most talked-about album of 2013 but also undoubtedly the most played. Building on vocals from the likes of Pharrell Williams and Julian Casablancas Daft Punk surprise us again with an unexpectedly soulful album.
• "A masterpiece complete with flaws." The Guardian, "Once Random Access Memories unravels, it is, at its best, pretty magnificent." Resident Advisor
CD ( £5.75) | Vinyl ( £14.00) | MP3 ( £7.59) | More from Daft Punk
4. Big Inner Matthew E White
Matthew E White A startling, soulful debut album from the hirsuite Richmond, Virginia singer with a jazz background, A Big Inner references some of the soul and gospel greats and announces Matthew E. White himself as a possible new great.
• “"Big Inner's seven tracks are full of moments…where you sense that a genuinely great artist might have arrived almost out of the blue" 5/5 Guardian, “White's songs burst with Cosmic American ambition, referencing everything from Otis Redding to Gene Clark… a genuine classic, in fact.” Independent on Sunday
CD ( £10.30) | Vinyl ( £19.35) | MP3 ( £5.29) | More from Matthew E White
5. The Next Day David Bowie
David Bowie Bowie used January 8, his 66th birthday, to announce The Next Day, an unexpected album very few knew was being recorded. Working again with producer Tony Visconti Bowie created his first UK number one album in 20 years.
• "An album that's thought-provoking, strange and filled with great songs." 4/5 The Guardian, "This album is, foremost, about songcraft." 8/10 NME
CD (from £3.75) | Vinyl ( £16.99) | MP3 ( £6.39) | More from David Bowie
6. Reflektor Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire With little short of universal acclaim across the first three albums of their career, Arcade Fire could be forgiven for playing it safe on their fourth. With Reflektor they proved that that’s not the band they are, unfurling a double album that is both exquisite and adventurous by equal measure. By allowing themselves the space to breathe across this 75 minute opus, they are able to inject new impetus to their sound – borrowing from dance music in particular – alongside tracks that would fit on any previous album. That a band of Arcade Fire’s import can continue to push themselves like this is nothing short of a treat.
• "Earnest magnificence" Pitchfork, "A thrilling act of risk of renewal by a band with a fear of the average" Rolling Stone
CD ( £4.00) | Vinyl ( £28.46) | MP3 ( £8.49) | More from Arcade Fire
7. Muchacho Phosphorescent
Phosphorescent The sixth LP from Matthew Houck, AKA Phosphorescent, Muchacho builds on his critically acclaimed 2010 album Here's to Taking it Easy to deliver a one-man Americana masterpiece, adding a synth-driven warmth to his perennially accomplished melodic songwriting.
• "Listening to Muchacho often feels like being warmed by afternoon sun as it floods your window" 8.8/10 Pitchfork, "A...magnificent beast, mixing country jams with claustrophobic electronica and mournful Mariachi horns to create a beautiful but discomforting album." 4/10 Uncut
CD ( £9.10) | Vinyl ( £15.97) | MP3 ( ) | More from Phosphorescent
8. Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time Steve Mason
Steve Mason Behold the beauty of this solo album from the former front man of Mercury Prize-nominated 90s outfit The Beta Band. Granted, he’s released albums over the years with other line-ups, and even released his debut solo album in 2010, but this is the kind of fodder that may well get him another nod from the Mercury elite. It’s full of subtle, slow-burn melodies and punctuated with imaginative skitz that go easy on the ear, like dubby instrumentals overlaid with Portuguese car-race commentary. But after softening you up with songs like “A Lot of Love” Mason then packs a punch with more socially conscious tracks that bristle with talk of rebellion and revolution.
• "A soulful, adventurous, state-of-the-nation classic." Uncut, "Testament to his songcraft." Independent on Sunday
CD ( £9.50) | Vinyl ( £22.14) | MP3 ( £7.19) | More from Steve Mason
9. Yeezus Kanye West
Kanye West A mish-mash of styles, words and beats from the outset Yeezus was likened to a sucker punch by Lou Reed. "No one's near doing what he's doing, it's not even on the same planet." Who would have thought an album of only 40 minutes could present such variety whilst remaining in synchronicity?
• "Each fluorescent strike of noise, incongruous tempo flip, and warped vocal is bolted into its right place across the record's fast 40 minutes." Pitchfork, "Styles and genres smash into each other. At first listen it sounds messy, but the more you play it, the more inspired and essential each brutal interruption becomes." 5/5 The Telegraph
CD ( £9.81) | MP3 ( £7.99) | More from Kanye West
10. MBV My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine Fans of shoegaze have waited a long time for this album. A very long time. As the streets lay littered with failed comebacks, My Bloody Valentine step over the fallen to produce one of the finest releases of 2013. Swirling, giddy, emotional and unstoppably powerful in its beauty, m b v grabs you by the ears and doesn't let go.
• "MBV leaves all other post-rock experimentalists looking like trivial dilettantes. If jet engines could sing, these would be their hymns." Independent on Sunday "It’s an album that 22 years of speculation and analysis haven’t come close to matching the reality of. It sounds amazing, and represents an astounding return." BBC
CD ( £9.99) | More from My Bloody Valentine

More of the Best of 2013

Check out the rest of the best: next page (11-30) | page 3 (31-50) | page 4 (51-100) | Classical Albums | Box Sets