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Nicole Sia’s 25 Best Albums of 2013

Nicole Sia's 25 Best Albums of 2013

To finish out the year, we’ll be offering the top 25 albums from various SPIN staffers. Today, Managing Editor Nicole Sia.

I don’t need to say this, but these are not the best albums of the year. (For a doggedly vetted list of critical darlings, please direct your attention here.) Instead, these are my favorite albums of the year, “favorite” being defined as the records I returned to the most, most likely because they moved something in me, ***flaws and all. Or, at the very least, I found them eminently listenable.

So, recurring themes: cacophony, Sturm und Drang, sad sexiness (of course), and atmosphere and aberration over melody and cohesion. Some real beauties here, though: Beyoncé’s artfully pop blockbuster on her own terms, Bill Callahan’s full extension into pastoral bliss, Mikal Cronin’s healing guitar-pop sunshine. And some sans-z bangers: Charli, the second best pop star in the biz today (see previous sentence); Arca’s tape, not album, because I make the rules; and goddamn, those canned horns on “Blood on the Leaves” are perfect.

1. Kanye West, Yeezus
2. Beyoncé, Beyoncé
3. Lorde, Pure Heroine
4. Bill Callahan, Dream River
5. Charli XCX, True Romance
6. Mikal Cronin, MCII
7. Forest Swords, Engravings
8. Ólafur Arnalds, For Now I Am Winter
9. Arca, &&&&&
10. Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse
11. Nicolas Jaar/Darkside, Psychic
12. The Knife, Shaking the Habitual
13. M.I.A., Matangi
14. Jim James, Regions of Light and Sound of God
15. James Blake, Overgrown
16. Mike Patton, The Place Beyond the Pines OST
17. The Flaming Lips, The Terror
18. Various Artists, Saint Heron
19. Until the Ribbon Breaks, A Taste of Silver EP
20. Death Grips, Government Plates
21. Laura Marling, Once I Was an Eagle
22. Burial, Rival Dealer
23. Arctic Monkeys, AM
24. The Besnard Lakes, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO
25. Wampire, Curiosity