Top ten albums of 2013

Sky Ferreira, Atoms For Peace and Kelela make the list – with “an unqualified success” at number one

Music Top Ten
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10. Atoms For Peace – AMOK

It would be amiss of me not to include Amok on this hallowed list. Twelve months after interviewing Thom Yorke about its creation for the first Dazed cover of the year, I still regularly submerge myself in its polychromatic textures. I love the twisted synth pop of “Ingenue”, the dark folk of “Judge, Jury and Executioner” and the way “Before Your Very Eyes” (below) reaches its claustrophobic crescendo. Each track segues perfectly into one another and constantly nudges the production into weird places. Every time I listen to it I hear something new. Amok is a masterclass in modern songcraft which keeps getting better with every play. 
(Tim Noakes)

9. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

When I interviewed The Knife for the April Issue of Dazed, they talked of the importance of community, with "Full of Fire" director Marit Ostberg commenting that it was "important for them the question the mask now". But for me, the knotty tracks of Shaking The Habitual became fully realised in their live shows this summer, where the gleeful pop of "Without You My Life Would Be Boring" and "A Tooth For An Eye" erupted with the sparkle of the dozen-plus dancers and musicians onstage, while the haunting wheeze of "Raging Lung" became an oddly-sensual ballad. "Who will write my story?" sung Karin Dreijer Andersson in "Full Of Fire" – and their sweaty shows testified to the raw, self-fulfilling power of turning the mirror back on yourself. (Owen Myers)

8. Laurel Halo – Chance of Rain

The more fully you open yourself to Laurel Halo’s definition-repellent Chance of Rain, the more rewarding the hunt for its soul becomes. Halo’s second full length release for Hyperdub hijacks elements of techno, jazz, noise, blues and more, folding them into timeless forms and melding them into cascades of rhythmic play that intermittently carve out bubbles of space. Most importantly, all this obfuscation shelters a very human tenderness. If 2013 is the year that the dam walls of genre labels burst, Chance Of Rain heralds the sighting of tangible horizons beyond. (Suze Olbrich)

7. Drake – Nothing Was The Same

After the "The Motto", Drake wasn't going to let himself become a YOLO-style meme again (though @drakethetype did a pretty good job on his behalf). Inspired by Marvin Gaye's post-divorce record "Here My Dear"Nothing Was The Same has introspection that reaches #meta proportions ("how much time is this nigga spending on the intro?") as it mines personal conversations with his mother/Nicki Minaj. Alongside 40's swirling production, HudMo keeps it crunchy on "Connect", and DJ Dahi ("Money Trees") cranks the explosive "Worst Behaviour", where Drake earnestly raps of beating Serena – when she's playing with her left. He also might have made his greatest R&B song in the swoony "Hold On We're Going Home" (sorry "Marvin's Room"), where, like on much of NWTS, he strikes out on a bold road lit by an iPhone screen and a gentle flame in his belly. (Owen Myers)

6. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus 7

Oneohtrix Point Never / Dan Lopatin, an excellent Brooklyn-based composition grad who in recent years has found himself at the centre of a gaseous nebulae of musicians who make electronic jam music that sounds like, well, gaseous nebulas, outdid himself this year. More structured and ambivalent than his previous, also totally awesome synth drifts, R Plus Seven is an album written with joy, adventure, life and sheer musicality, and one of the best of the year. A+ promo campaign, featuring Reddit AMAs and two totally rad videos too. (Charlie Robin Jones)

5. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap

Dazed cover star and Chi-town native Chance the Rapper's signature ad-lib "Igh!" was 2013's attention grabber, which he padded and packaged with possibly one of the funnest hip hop mixtapes (or albums for that matter) for some time: Acid Rap. In our interview, while hanging out with Childish Gambino in his infinity pool he told us he "allowed myself to be really open-minded and free with who I allowed into my musical space." You can tell. Spitting through the rollercoaster tracklist, Chance marries jazzy piano lunges with a rhythm to his rhymes (tongue twisters like "Okie dokie, alky, keep it lowkey") that saw him reign in both alt and mainstream circles. This edge makes him a success that other artists are pining for (most recently Biebs for his Music Monday track "Confident"). Acid Rap even managed to sneak its way to number 63 on Billboard's charts this past July when bootleg copies released on iTunes and Amazon were downloaded, making Acid Rap a solid addition to hip hop history. (Trey Taylor)

4. DJ Rashad – Double Cup

From the drill rap scene of Chief Keef and Sasha Go Hard to R&B goddess Tink, Chicago totally won at music this year. Rashad Harden’s latest album Double Cup is a case in point – deftly inviting comparisons with Dilla’s Donuts for its tight samples. It’s a sensual smorgasbord of beats from start to finish. Rashad���s cred for being king of Chi-Town’s footwork scene is a crown which gleams on his first Hyperdub full-length, re-defining the hyperactive genre as far more than a clean cut 160bpm cardboard cutout. (Sian Dolding)

3. Kelela – Cut 4 Me

Kelela Mizanekristos, LA label Fade To Mind and UK label Night Slugs have delivered one of the most thrilling sonic offerings of the year. From the grime-influenced “Enemy” which merges her exquisite vocal against something you might have expected on a war dub in early 2000, the contrast between hard and soft edges is its central theme. Take the heartbreaking and attitude-packed “Floor Show” that injects anger with futuristic electronica, or the jerky vocal hiccups on “Do It Again” illlustrating R&B at its most senusal and thrilling. While Kelela is certainly not short of sex (see: “Go All Night” – she’s talking about what you think she is) this works in the bedroom and the club – and we can’t get enough. (Kieran Yates)

2. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

From the frayed electro storm of opener “Boys” to the creakingly sinister crawl of the closing title track, Sky Ferreira's much-delayed debut album is the work of a pop star prodding and picking at the parameters of what's expected. Having written, recorded and then scrapped a handful of albums at her label's request over the past four years, the bulk of Night Time... was recorded in a two week burst of creative frustration with producer Ariel Rechtshaid. “Ain't Your Right”, “You're Not The One” and “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)” are petulant, black-hearted pop songs from a forgotten remake of Heathers, while the sweetly self-lacerating “I Blame Myself” and the electronic throb of “Love In Stereo” recall her earlier singles. Despite the musical touchstones – a dash of early Garbage, the pop nous of 80s Cyndi Lauper – Night Time, My Time miraculously sounds like a Sky Ferreira album. (Michael Cragg)

1. Kanye West – Yeezus

What to say about Yeezus? After Kanye’s “Bound 2” motorbike-humping, Confederate flag-waving anti-PR parade leaves town, it’s still this year’s best record: an ambitious, OTT album of atonal shrieks, Billie Holiday samples, abrasive S&M synth, and rap’s biggest personality, bestride the earth. It’s a darkly entertaining, pedal-to-the-metal joyride through West’s ego, and this year’s smartest (and at times, infuriatingly contradictory) commentary on wealth, celebrity and the race politics of a supposedly post-racial, capitalist America. And also one that topped the Billboard charts. An unqualified success – Fendi leather jogging pant or no. (Zing Tsjeng)

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