2013’s Best Albums: Idolator Editors Pick Their Favorite 10

Idolator Staff | December 6, 2013 5:40 am

4. Kanye West, Yeezus Released: June 18

Yeezus was made by one of the world’s biggest pop stars, but it lacks all the markers of a pop record. And yet, there was never any doubt as to whether this, a pop site, should cover it. Yeezus is a singular force of nature in the pop world, even though it isn’t necessarily of that world, and even if the effects haven’t been felt yet.

That’s because, in his mad dash of frantic future-rap, full of squeals and shrieks like some malfunctioning warning siren, West accomplished two of the rarest pop star feats: he took a true risk, and he made something that sounds unlike anything else. And, even rarer still, those two accomplishments led to great music. Call it rap, anti-pop, none of that matters. All that matters is that Yeezus was one of the year’s most thrilling albums. — CARL WILLIOTT

3. Lorde, Pure Heroine Released: September 30

Getting a left-of-center single to top the charts is one thing — just ask Baauer — but following it up with an album that cements you as a career artist is another. Even as its ubiquity has begun to wear out its welcome, Lorde’s “Royals” is still so beguilingly good that you could hardly fault the public for expecting her to be a one-trick pony — but her debut album Pure Heroine is a jewel, withering and heartbreaking and thrillingly precocious. It’s one of those records that gets better with repeated listens: The euphoric “Team” and the sinister “Tennis Court” already promised extraordinary things, but the buzzing, throbbing “Ribs” and “Buzzcut Season,” in its eerie gloom, prove that she’s not only gifted, but versatile. She sings about how it’s so scary getting old, but really, if she’s already this good, there’s really nothing to worry about. — SAM LANSKY

2. Haim, Days Are Gone Released: September 27

Haim’s debut album is as quintessentially Californian as the sun-bleached strip malls and battered palm trees that inspired it. Their unique brand of ’70s-tinged West Coast pop-rock evokes memories of sweaty afternoons and long car rides with the windows down — a heady mix that came as sweet relief in a year where popular music focused on bone-rattling beats and crashing synths. The FleetwoodMac-by-way -of-Van-Nuys sonic aesthetic that runs through Days Are Gone made it a constant source of enjoyment in 2013.

Buzz singles like the shimmery and perfect “Forever” and handclap-filled gem “Don’t Save Me” give you some idea of what to expect from the LP — killer hooks, glorious harmonies and tight musicianship. “The Wire”, “Honey And I” and “Falling” all fit that bill, but Este, Danielle and Alana don’t stay in their comfort zone. Two of the album’s absolute highlights — “Running If You Call My Name” and “If I Could Change Your Mind” — are breezy synth-pop/rock experiments (think ’80s Pat Benatar or Kate Bush) that wrap raw emotion with cascading synths and rollicking guitars. Given the right push, either tune could be the track that takes Haim to the next level. — MIKE WASS