10. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
These Canadian indie-rock superstars fourth album is a stylistic puzzler, fusing a hodgepodge of genres (disco, piano rock, ‘90s garage) into a double album that initially seems like a mess, but coalesces into one of the most thrilling and unpredictable records of the year.
9. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
Here’s an incredibly entertaining rap album that blooms under Chance’s bizarre, squeaky, and mischievous-yet-lovable vocal delivery.
8. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
Pusha T makes the most of appearances from the likes of Rick Ross, Kendrick Lamar, and Chris Brown with a collection of tracks that don’t skip a beat on lyrical brilliance, impeccable production, and phenomenal hooks (such as Brown’s ghoulish verses on “Sweet Serenade”).
7. Arctic Monkeys – AM
Relics of the ‘00s no more, the Arctic Monkeys launch themselves back into relevance with an album of seductive rock music for drunken late nights and serendipitous sexual encounters.
6. Classixx – Hanging Gardens
L.A. DJ-duo Classixx fuses sparkling synths, graceful melodies to create one of the year’s most likable electronic albums.
5. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
This Scottish buzz band earns their stripes with a unique sound that combines explosive, arena-filling electronics with the natural sweetness of Lauren Mayberry’s voice.
4. Haim – Days Are Gone
Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar comparisons be damned, spectacular tracks like “The Wire” and “Don’t Save Me” gave this talented sister trio some of this year’s most highly deserved blogger-praise.
3. San Fermin – San Fermin
Throw The National, Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, baroque pop, and the storytelling and wit of classical opera into a blender, and San Fermin is your unexpectedly brilliant result.
2. Disclosure – Settle
While not the cohesive ALBUM album that make my #3 and #1 picks so powerful, this is an outstanding collection of innovative electronic dance tracks, bursting with energetic life summoned by two talented British siblings and guests such as indie darlings Jessie Ware and London Grammar.
1. Danny Brown – Old
It may be hard to describe Danny Brown and his creepy, high-pitched croon — it’s a polarizing love-it-or-hate-it, to say the least — but the fascinating Detroit rapper delivers a two-headed beast of an album that veers from the emotionally heavy (“25 Bucks”) to the unapologetically crude (“Handstand”). It’s always clever, always entertaining, and makes for truly the best album I listened to in 2013.