The CD Critic’s Top 5 Albums of 2013

5: The Invisible Way – Low

Low’s 10th studio-album released was a delightful treat titled ‘The Invisible Way’. The album showcased in equal measure the band’s own style of slow-alternative rock music, as well as new ideas that hadn’t been attempted by the band before. The result was an album that was quintessentially their own, whilst also sounding new and exciting. Once again, we were offered gorgeous layers of harmonic vocals accompanied by the most delicate of instrumentals. The album offered a wonderful balance of old and new Low, bringing with it a style that was nearly impossible not to fall in love with. Each album by Low offers something that is a little unusual or inaccessible, and ‘The Invisible Way’ is no stranger to such formalities. What makes the album work well is how each track offers brilliantly towards the overall album, giving it the wonderful character that is titled ‘The Invisible Way’. Low even combat their previous criticisms on some of their earlier records, by producing an album that contains in equal measure both uplifting tracks and downbeat tracks, giving the whole overall effort a nice range in styles and presentation. It’s an album that easily allows for repeated listening, making it one of Low’s best albums thus far in their very rewarding discography.

4: Reflektor – Arcade Fire

The hype surrounding Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album effort nearly caused the album to have expectations that the band would have been unable to achieve. Lucky for them, Arcade Fire knew exactly what they were doing, and ended up releasing the incredibly exciting and pumped-up ‘Reflektor’. The album saw Arcade Fire progressing their style once again, adding in new techniques and ideas that helped elevate their already existing strengths. Though the album itself might be classified as being a little too long, it is one that keep offering and offering as it progresses along the two discs of material. Everything seems to work on ‘Relfketor’, including the guest appearances by the likes of David Bowie and such, who don’t retract from Arcade Fire themselves, but instead help add more to the music. Everything Arcade Fire do well, from their song-writing to their lyrics, seem to have been pushed forward and forward until it sounds even better than before. Considering the strength of each individual song, the instrumentals put in place for the tracks and the lyrics that present the well-chosen themes and ideas of the album itself, it seems both the album’s length and hype are all completely justified.

3: Dalmak – Esmerine

On Esmerine’s fourth studio album, (and second album released by Constellation Records), the band offer up one of their most interesting and insightful records titled ‘Dalmak’. The album sees Esmerine combining their own style of music established in Montreal with styles of music originating from Istanbul, creating a record that blurs together genres, styles and techniques to create a very beautiful album experience. Everything Esmerine attempt comes together in fine style to create a gorgeous album experience that is arguably one of the best releases to have come out of Canada this current year (along side other brilliant albums of course). What makes the album work is how Esmerine have attempted to expand what makes their style work, and incorpoate other techniques and ideas to create something new and exciting. It could so easily have gone wrong for Esmerine, but the band manage to make everything work in such a way that it creates a wonderful album experience, where every song flows through brilliantly. There’s an inaccessible element to the album no doubt, though those who enjoy music that is that little bit different and is highly creative will find a lot to enjoy from Esmerine on ‘Dalmak’.

2: The Next Day – David Bowie

The announcement of David Bowie’s first album in over 10 years of inactivity was a huge surprise to everyone earlier this year. The release of ‘The Next Day’ saw Bowie back on top of the music industry, with the album being a phenomenal return to music. There was nothing on ‘The Next Day’ that was out of place, or ill-fitting in any way whatsoever. ‘The Next Day’ was simply another knock-out album by one of music’s most revered song-writers. It helped show that Bowie still has it in him, to produce an album that can easily be enjoyed, and that he can still write great music even in his old age (or older age). ‘The Next Day’ was a punchy and fast pop-rock album that featured brilliant instrumentals that helped support Bowie’s phenomenal lyrics and vocal style. It’s arguable that the album itself isn’t nearly as good as some of Bowie’s most beloved albums in his career (such as 1972’s ‘The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders Fro Mars’ and 1977’s ‘Heroes’). What matters though is how Bowie wasn’t trying to make an album to out-do his previous efforts,but instead jut make another album full of strong material. Bowie easily pulled this off, and now ‘The Next Day’ goes down as one of 2013’s best albums.

1: Push The Sky Away – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ fifteenth studio album ‘Push The Sky Away’ is easily the band’s most subtle masterpiece. The album saw Nick Cave & his bad seeds take a few steps back, and take a more reserved approach to the presentation of the music on ‘Push The Sky Away’, resulting in a highly beautiful and moving album full of haunting instrumentals and incredibly literary lyrics. The album featured a different style of music than what was on previous Nick Cave albums, with the only similarities possible being the band’s 1997 release of ‘The Boatman’s Call’. ‘Push The Sky Away’ featured the most delicate of pianos and violins that helped push the music at a very slow pace. The album works on many levels, with it being one of Nick Cave’s most creative releases thus far, as well as his (arguably) most interesting. Although the tone of the album is downbeat to the point of being inaccessible to an extent, it is still an album that easily warrants repeated listening, to those who are able to cope with such sustained melancholy. Each track contributes brilliantly to the overall scope of the album, being both great stand-alone songs, and great songs as part of a complete album package. For a Nick Cave album, ‘Push The Sky Away’ is a little unexpected, but highly rewarding.

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