We love albums. And here are some of the ones we’ve loved the most in 2013.
Find part one of this countdown – numbers 40 to 31 – here.
Click artist names for further content and longer reviews. Check the gallery above for relevant covers.
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(FOOLS GOLD / WARNERS)
An autobiographical tale of drug-dealer-to-recreational-drug-experimenter, Danny Brown’s ‘Old’ manages the difficult balance of pleasing somewhat conflicting fanbases: the old Detroit hip-hop crowd who miss braided Danny’s bleak tales of struggling in Motown, and the new hipster crowd who favour asymmetrical-haired Danny’s hypnotic chants of clubbing and Molly-popping over hard hitting electronic production. Grant Brydon
Best Bit: Danny showing his introspective side on ‘Clean Up’.
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You can keep your Daft Punk records – we’ll be getting down to this second LP from Brainfeeder-signed bass supremo Thundercat, thanks very much. Stephen Bruner was perhaps better known as a ‘feat.’ artist before this collection came along. Now, we know he’s some kind of wicked funk overlord with demonically possessed fingers. Mike Diver
Best Bit: S’gotta be ‘Oh Sheit It’s X’, the funkiest disco jam of 2013.
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RUN THE JEWELS
‘RUN THE JEWELS’
(FOOL'S GOLD/BIG DADA)
Killer Mike and El-P’s previous collaboration saw the latter produce for the former on his 2012 ‘R.A.P. Music’ LP. It was excellent – so naturally this twin-MC team-up was always likely to impress. And doesn’t it. ‘RTJ’ is the most excellently curt rap record since Nas’s ‘Illmatic’, but bumps twice as hard. Short, but stunning. Mike Diver
Best Bit: The beats come so consistently big that it can only be them.
Read an interview with Run The Jewels from earlier this year – another, looking back at their great year, will follow on these very pages, soon.
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‘WATCHING MOVIES WITH THE SOUND OFF’
(ROSTRUM / UNIVERSAL)
After reinventing himself on last year’s ‘Macadelic’ mixtape, Mac Miller’s return to the album format was surprising to fans of his debut. Having moved to LA and locked himself in a home studio, ‘WMWTSO’ is a much more organic affair; it is also a surprisingly collaborative affair, with his home having become a creative hub for an unlikely group of artists comprising everyone from Action Bronson to Schoolboy Q and Alchemist to Odd Future. Grant Brydon
Best Bit: Mac trading bars with Action Bronson on the Alchemist produced ‘Red Dot Music’.
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‘SHAKING THE HABITUAL’
If you thought Nordic sibling art-techno duo The Knife were weird then the good news is that they just got weirder. ‘Shaking The Habitual’ occasionally sounds like a schizophrenic six-month-old baby’s interior monologue of primal grunts and terrorised insinuations. It’s an uncomfortable journey, but one that’s so unique it dazzles us with its dark vision. Matthew Bennett
Best Bit: ‘Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized’ is a short atmospheric break mid-album. It’s only 19 minutes long.
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KIRIN J CALLINAN
A deluge of dichotomies and genre splicing discordance, ferociously flamboyant, virile yet vulnerable, ‘Embracism’ is one brutal beaut. Licentious lyrics and dissonant guitar showcase an angular ambition exhilarating in its inconsistency; a careering cacophony of desolate abjection, exquisite aggression and muscular romanticism brandishing grazed knuckles at certain future magnificence. Anna Wilson
Best Bit: The soul-searing title-track, a manifesto of modern masculinity.
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KINGS OF LEON
Not quite the “comeback story of a lifetime” as alluded within, but certainly the hearty spirit of ‘Mechanical Bull’ felt like a cathartic progression from the dense ‘Come Around Sundown’. The Followills clearly revelled in the crisp dynamics, panoramic landscapes and funky chops that dominate, suggesting their reign is far from endangered. Simon Harper
Best Bit: Anticipating the chorus of ‘Family Tree’ resounding through a stadium.
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(HIPPOS IN TANKS)
Dean Blunt, the recluse – known for the lo-fi and looped musings of Hype Williams – branched out to deliver a foggy break-up album of the utmost weirdness. Passion, anger and promiscuity dominate, with Blunt delivering in an affected baritone, amidst brass, strings, accordion, guitar, piano and trudging beats. The album demands a commitment from the listener – a patient leap of faith – but it repays that like no other this year. Joe Zadeh
Best Bit: On ‘The Pedigree’, Blunt warns off a future love interest with stunningly heartless pith.
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Kieran Hebden’s kept his head down this year, producing Syrian pop and spinning eight-hour sets. In a timely tip of the hat to pirate radio culture and the spidering spectrum of UK bass, ‘Beautiful Rewind’ fused the grittier elements of jungle with the kaleidoscopic delicacy that Four Tet has undoubtedly become an international treasure for. Felicity Martin
Best Bit: “Hey-hey–hey-hey” – the MC spitting on ‘Kool FM’.
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Forest Swords, AKA Matthew Barnes, was quiet for a time – but how he broke that silence with ‘Engravings’, an instantly familiar yet disconcertingly alien collection that resonates long after its first play. It sounds like a record you’ve known forever, but never really known at all. Creepily addictive avant-electro fare. Mike Diver
Best Bit: The realisation that massive talents can speak so very delicately.
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Read part one of our top 40 here, with records by Jon Hopkins, MONEY, Daughter, Pusha T and more. Our top 20 will be published w/c December 9th.
The current issue of Clash magazine features M.I.A. and is good enough to buy.