It’s not an easy listen, but it may just be one of the most nuanced, soothing and adventurous of 2013.
There’s beauty here in heaps, and by leaning a bit less hard on the heartbreak pedal, turning down the reverb and letting that wild youth out a bit more, they can become a Daughter we’re truly proud to call our own.
As inventive and relevant as they’ve ever been, it’s an alarm call for a comatose nation being slowly drained of lifeblood. It’s exactly what 2013 needs: more fight.
It is a serious album for serious rock fans, even though taking anything seriously isn’t exactly Andy Falkous, Jack Egglestone, Jimmy Watkins and Julia Ruzicka’s strong point.
One of the reasons ‘Major Arcana’ works so well is because it’s addictive and fun, which could explain how these characters got into such a mess in the first place.
'Shaking The Habitual' is a radical gesture from an enigmatic group. As such, it will not be for everyone. Newcomers will likely be baffled. Hardcore Knife fans will hail it a masterpiece, while privately making fairly regular use of the skip button.
‘Mug Museum’, her third full-length, is as wonderfully weird as any of its predecessors. And there’s now sparseness in her music, plus a cool, controlled confidence that showcases her knack for the surreal more than ever.
It’s flawed, it’s imperfect and it’s downright odd at points, but it is packed with belting tunes. Most of all, it’s fun – a great achievement considering it hasn’t looked like fun being in The Strokes for years.
It is all-consuming and consistently impressive from the off
Mostly, ‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’ shows Kurt Vile’s determination to make something of that slice of genius he got for free.
Deap Vally certainly aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said, and they do it with style and wit.
Callahan’s early work as Smog painted him as a lo-fi sex case, but of late he’s adopted a sweeter, eddying Americana, and ‘Dream River’ takes a turn to lush country-soul.
Out goes the usual folk-meets-new wave stuff, in comes Lily Allen’s producer Greg Kurstin and big, spangly electro hits. The results could have been messy, but ‘Heartthrob’ is a triumph.
You’re struck by the strength of the songs, and the roguish, self-assured charm with which they’re delivered.
This is a band who think nothing of giving over the album’s title track to a stern nine-minute churn that sets growling guitars against dirty squalls of brass.
A confusing, intriguing record, then. Not their strongest, but there's a transition underway.
‘m b v’ needs to be digested like chewing gum, left to swirl around in your system for months or years, before anyone will really be able to gauge how it measures up to ‘Isn’t Anything’ or ‘Loveless’.
Devoid of easy access points, it’s sparser and stranger, filled with eerie lulls and sudden, discombobulating rushes of noise. Anyone hankering for a visceral body-and-mind-fuck á la ‘Hidden: Part 2’ is going to feel alienated.
Crucially, Factory Floor innovate rather than imitate
Haim have been working towards this since they were barely strong enough to hold a guitar, and over time they've written more good tunes than most bands manage in a whole career.
The entire record is as premeditated and grounded in US alt.rock history as you can get.
Chvrches have stuck to the bones of their beliefs, and you're going to want to suck the marrow right out of them.
For all their experimental tangents, they've always been able to write a decent hook. So maybe Bradford Cox's monomania is just that – an ongoing obsession to carve Deerhunter's future place as one of the great American rock'n'roll bands.
In the end, ‘You’re Nothing’ is a sort of toast: to loud music, hard drinking and the energy of the unbroken.
‘Trouble…’ is a collection of anthems, full of rich orchestral fanfares, bolstered by the cast and crew of New York’s finest.
Throughout, ‘Settle’ will blind you with so much sheen you’ll want to tile your bathroom in it.
This record is not the sunburnt wooze of Tame Impala: it’s angrier, colder.
... she’s still brutally picking at old scabs to expose the muck festering underneath. The truth has seldom sounded so good.
The best – and simplest – trick Jagwar Ma have pulled off is delivering an album with no rubbish on it.
If ‘In Love’ lacks depth it’s because it’s too busy being wide-eyed with marvellous wonder, thrilled by its own discoveries. Even the hi-hats are epic. Peace are intoxicated by their own youth, and all that matters is that they’re happening NOW.
This is a gorgeous album, but sacrifices had to be made. They’ve undeniably lost something that made them special in the first place.
Drenge are true to their phonics, subjecting listeners to a gnarly, ultra-funky – and that’s in the stinky sense, not the Nile Rodgers sense – aural pummelling.
She’s reminded us exactly why she’s important: she’s a hyper-intuitive artist with a mongrel sensibility who bows to no one.
‘Immunity’ is expertly paced, and as good for coming down as it is for coming up.
This album is, foremost, about songcraft. Rather than reinventing Bowie, it absorbs his past and moves it on, hungry for more.
'Once I Was An Eagle' is an intense, internal record with a clear emotional arc. The portrait it paints of the author is not always flattering, but the truth rarely is.
What Cave and co have managed here is no mean feat: a masterpiece that merges the experimentation and freedom of their side projects with Cave’s most tender songcraft.
‘Reflektor’ is cleaner, sharper and dancier than anything the band have done before.
By assembling a cast of their favourite musicians and delving into their adolescent memories, Daft Punk have created something as emotionally honest as any singer-songwriter confessional – and a lot more fun to dance to.
As with some modern art, you may find ‘Silence Yourself’ leaves you whispering, “I appreciated it, but I didn’t love it.”
At times it feels as if there is no arena, stadium or field big enough to contain the songs on ‘Holy Fire’ - although you get the feeling plenty of them will be filled with these songs over the next 12 months.
The crap filter has been whacked up to 11 and the groove-o-tron set to interstellar for the band’s slickest offering to date.
‘Yeezus’ is so tight, so bold, that with a few tweaks Kanye could’ve made his rock for the ages. As it is, he’ll have to settle for one of the best records of the year.
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.