I have been avoiding this list like the plague. In a year of such incredible music, especially from our own fair United Kingdom, putting a list together seems completely arbitrary and not really a celebration of the year at all. But convention dictates that I really should do something. So, in the traditional fashion, I’ve gone for a top ten. Except for the top spot, all of these could be fairly interchangeable as to how fantastic they are. In their own way, each of these records represents a perfect moment in time, whether it was a great return or a truly exciting debut. So, without further ado, I give you my top ten albums of 2013. Now go and have yourselves a bloody good Christmas and a cracking New Year.
Heartthrob was completely different to the usual Tegan and Sara style. Instead of mysterious indie-pop, they went full-on with a bunch of synths and explicit lyrics. And it was good. There are places that are so 80s, you’d swear you were wearing frilly sleeves and more eyeliner than is good for you, until it breaks into a pounding chorus that wouldn’t feel out of place at your local nightclub. Totally unexpected, highly irreverent, completely fantastic.
It was a big year for comebacks, and Fall Out Boy had one of the biggest ones yet. I’ll admit, I was wary of the FOB reunion to begin with. But Patrick Stump’s time crafting R&B hooks was put to good use and combined with a few pop-punk sensibilities, Save Rock And Roll is a complete progression. A necessary one, some might say, and it showed the world that Fall Out Boy were back in full force and ready to take your radio by storm. Also, the bass riff to ‘Where Did The Party Go’ is one of the best things they’ve ever done.
“THIS. IS. SEMPITERNAL.” That gang chorus was a sign. Bring Me The Horizon were not taking any shit. Also, it’s a remarkably uncommon word, very clever in its usage, and that’s what Bring Me The Horizon’s fourth album is – extraordinarily clever. It’s not necessarily intricate, there’s nu-metal influence everywhere, but it completely bends and breaks previous expectations of the band and creates a sonic journey like nothing else. From the vitriolic ‘Antivist’ to the beautiful ‘And The Snakes Start To Sing’, nothing about Sempiternal is imperfect.
Hey You Guys! are an amalgamation of some of the Worcester scene’s heroes, and these dudes have brought together an unmatched sense of humour, savvy lyrics and catchy-as-fuck hooks into one mindblowing record. Our interview with Hey You Guys! explains further why we love them, but Gasp Shock Horror is 28 minutes of sheer joy.
This record came at the perfect time for We Are Fiction. With bands like Mallory Knox, Young Guns and Canterbury making it big, it’s only a matter of time until We Are Fiction are massive, and they absolutely deserve it. One of the hardest working bands in the UK scene have brought out a record that echoes the glorious post-hardcore scene of the early 2000s while still remaining fresh and relevant. The dual vocal approach from Phil Barker and Marc Kucharski works so well, and it’s one of those records that has you hitting ‘repeat’ the second it’s done. Kate’s review of One For Sorrow says it all.
Let’s be honest, apart from In With The Out Crowd which was a bit iffy, Less Than Jake always deliver the goods. See The Light is no exception. From start to finish, it’s filled with ska-punk bangers. As sunny as a Floridian summer afternoon, no other album has made me smile so much this year, or want to dance as much, and I look forward to blasting this out in the summer at all the barbeques.
An absolutely solid effort from Bangers this year, Crazy Fucking Dreams is the kind of record other punk bands dream of making. Although they’re sticking with the tried and tested ‘big riffs, big rants’ formula, there’s still plenty of innovation here, and their story-telling skills are in full swing, with tracks that can’t help but speak to you. If you like your punk honest and raw, but actually listenable with wonderfully gruff vocals, Bangers are the band for you. And Crazy Fucking Dreams is brilliant.
Again, this was a record I was slightly wary of. Lead single ‘Miss Jackson’ didn’t impress me much, but as soon as ‘This Is Gospel’ made an appearance, I knew that Panic! were back on track to an absolute hit. Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is ten straight tracks of pop glory. Every song has a totally different feel to it, but all of them carry something wonderful to the front, whether that’s a catchy chorus or a beautifully poignant melody. Continuing post-Ross is one of the best things Panic! could have done – this is exactly why.
It was clear from the days of Reuben that Jamie Lenman was an almost unnaturally talented songwriter – how was it possible for post-hardcore to be so good and yet maintain a distinctly British voice? It just hadn’t been done before. Like Muscle Memory hasn’t been done before. The first side, Muscle, is the most gut-wrenching hardcore record of the year, with crushing, dirgey riffs abound. It’s utterly glorious. However, second side, Memory, is a folky, poppy, acoustic-y, big band-y foray into something completely genius. Separately, they’d both be incredible records, but together, they combine to create something phenomenal. Not to mention, releasing two records like this together is punk as fuck.
A predictable entry into the list, but an extremely important one. Burials is the best thing AFI have done since The Art Of Drowning. It’s not to say that their efforts in-between have been bad, but Burials was outstanding. A raw, emotional journey juxtaposed with some of the most intricate songwriting that AFI has ever exhibited? Sign me up. Twice. You can read my full love letter to Burials here, or better yet, you can go and buy it and remember why you fell in love with music to begin with.