5 of the Best – Albums of 2013

As we’re at the halfway point of the year (OK, slightly over if you’re a pedant) I thought “why not recap on some of the best albums released so far?” Here’s 5 of the Best albums of 2013 so far then…

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito: B-movie and pulp fiction imagery pervade lyrically on the latest effort from the New Yorkers and all of the sex, heroism and filth that go with this style make for a neat fit with a band whose previous dabblings have been in elements of garage rock, disco pop and riot grrrl. Nick Zinner’s at times faultless guitar work is more fore-fronted in Mosquito than in the previous record (the fantastic It’s Blitz), which is no bad thing and, of course, Karen O’s sultry sexual charisma is all over each vocal – be it in those breathy moments or those primal screeches. Another fine record from a fine band.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O

Phoenix – Bankrupt: Possibly my personal favourite on this list, Bankrupt is an astonishing blend of catchy pop and art school shoegaze. There’s something so non-Gallic about this record (if we subscribe momentarily to lazy national stereotypes) in its lack of indulgence and pretentiousness and its eschewing of flights of fancy – it’s pretty much an album of three to five minute pop songs that focus on melody and are relayed by a bunch of uncool misfits. Wonderful stuff.

David Bowie – The Next Day: Acting almost as a retrospective of Bowie’s glittering career, with a heavy focus on his celebrated and majestic Berlin trilogy, The Next Day is a great reminder of the football adage that form is temporary, but class is permanent – and there are maybe none in Bowie’s class.

David Bowie – The Stars are Out Tonight

Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle: Marling’s newest record is seemingly a jilted lament to a former lover-cum-bastard set to her usual backdrop of woman scored with a guitar as weapon of choice to brutalise the ex with. Vague and downright obvious nods to Dylan’s early canon occur throughout and Marling carries the album with her beautiful voice as its towing vehicle.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City: This may be Vampire Weekend’s best effort yet. Occasionally nodding to the Malian and Senegalese leanings the band have so cleverly utilised hitherto and occasionally pulling away from that to transcend their previous two records, it’s a smartly-realised piece of work. The production is almost perfect and the songs carry the swagger of a band truly in control. ‘Step’, for instance, is a sweet ballad which harnesses Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’ (not exactly a trick that’s never been done before) without leaning completely on the melodic parts of the much-plagiarised piece, while other stand-outs such as ‘Unbelievers’ have a pace more in tune with their native New York. Perfect listening for anybody lucky enough to be sitting in Central Park this summer.

Vampire Weekend peform ‘Step’ on Later… with Jools Holland

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