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Brandon Soderberg’s 25 Best Albums of 2013

To finish out the year, we’ll be offering the top 25 albums from various SPIN staffers. Today, Contributor Brandon Soderberg.

For me, it was the year of event-album letdowns. The consensus picks that I could get behind tended to sneak up on you, unannounced, and never really climbed out of the rap-nerd world, anyways: The mordant humanity of Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, and the playful, more-profound-than-you-realized inanity of Migos’ Young Rich Niggas. Whatever it was that Justin Timberlake’s tedious, privileged The 20/20 Experience offered all of you, I found in the bashful dork-funk of Toro Y Moi’s Anything in Return, and the Sade-if-they-rocked-mesh-shirts solemnity of inc.’s No World. Meanwhile, Kavinsky’s OutRun was the EDM implosion I (unfairly, yes) hoped Daft Punk would give us with Random Access Memories. And well, Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven was a better retrolicious soft-sounds thesis than R.A.M. and found a lot of room for looming dread – and I’m all about looming dread. Meanwhile, Icona Pop’s This Is… was a reminder that there’s nothing wrong with EDM and Daft Punk didn’t need to step in and show people how to do it right, which is probably why those two just made a 10cc album instead, right?

Yeezus collaborators Arca (&&&&&) and Travi$ Scott (Owl Pharoah) did the void-staring industrial skronk that Kanye West couldn’t quite gel together in my opinion (even if, duh, nothing coming together was the point of Yeezus). Plus, there was no shortage of Yeezus-esque broken, paranoid pop-drone from Anika’s self-titled krautrock-disco covers EP, Antwon’s anxiety of intimacy opus In Dark Denim, DJ AngelBaby’s fractured dance from the future mixtape Get Pumped Vol. 1, M.I.A.’s fame flame-out freakout Matangi, Prurient’s two-step-meets-death-march EP Through the Window, and the syrup moping of Western Tink & Beautiful Lou’s Mobbin’ No Sobbin’. And if you wanted a too-many-cooks album about doing lots of drugs and getting with lots of ladies, well Justin Vernon’s weed-folk-post-rock with Volcano Choir on Repave was just as clueless but far less vindictive than Ye’s, you know?

My favorite record of the year, Rome Fortune’s Beautiful Pimp was pretty much ignored, particularly baffling because the producer behind much of it, Childish Major made the globby trap hit “U.O.E.N.O.” Ditto on the ignored tip to All Around the World by tween favorites Mindless Behavior, who you’d imagine would just be ripe for a poptimist push by more creepy grown-ass men like myself. My list is rounded out by sturdy genre adjustments (Diarrhea Planet’s I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams and Young Scooter’s Street Lottery) and inside-themselves records that didn’t seem to care whether you liked them or not: Courtney Barnett’s The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, The Dismemberment Plan’s Uncanney Valley, Ka’s The Night’s Gambit, Kevin Gates’ The Luca Brasi Story, and Oddisee’s The Beauty in All.

The big point here is that I got the same thrills as the majority of my fellow critics, they just crept on me by way of different albums. Look man, I liked the zeitgeist and communal bug-outs that Random Access Memories and Yeezus brought about, and hearing “Doin’ It Right” in a vegan diner in Chicago this one time and “Bound 2” anytime I left my house and went out to get drunk in the past few weeks were moments where I felt connected to other humans. Let’s hope 2014 is filled with Big Deal albums that grab me like they grabbed the rest of y’all.

Brandon Soderberg’s Best 25 Albums of 2013

1. Rome Fortune, Beautiful Pimp
2. Toro Y Moi, Anything in Return
3. Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap
4. Icona Pop, This Is…
5. Migos, Young Rich Niggas
6. Kevin Gates, The Luca Brasi Story
7. Diarrhea Planet, I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
8. Ka, The Night’s Gambit
9. Mindless Behavior, All Around the World
10. Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven
11. Young Scooter, Street Lottery
12. Volcano Choir, Repave
13. The Dismemberment Plan, Uncanney Valley
14. M.I.A., Matangi
15. Anika, Anika EP
16. Prurient, Through the Window
17. Travi$ Scott, Owl Pharaoh
18. DJ AngelBaby, Get Pumped Vol. 1
19. Antwon, In Dark Denim
20. Inc., No World
21. Arca, &&&&&
22. Beautiful Lou & Western Tink, Mobbin’ No Sobbin’
23. Courtney Barnett, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
24. Oddisee, The Beauty in All
25. Kavinsky, OutRun