Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part Two

Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part Two

Previously posted: Part One // Two // Three // Four // Five

20. Metric - Synthetica

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Instantly accessible and a guarantee to rock your pants off, Synthetica is a fine follow up to the equally rewarding Fantasies, it finds the Canadian quartet in a fun, larger than life mood, exuding a grander, more confident feel throughout, the title track's glam-stomp rush is a perfect summation, pacey and in your face from the word go, evidence if you needed it that Metric should be stadium sized.

"Youth Without Youth" revels in 80's synth with dark industrial rhythms and a hard-hitting beats it sounds like they've been enjoying a few old Depeche Mode LP's over the past few years where huge guitars and Emily's trademark vocals are equally prominent, like so much of the album, it is hypnotic and catchy as fuck. Something which could almost be repeated with the albums next single "Speed The Collapse" which soars with epic-sized guitar screeches, metronomic beats and Emily's mellow vocals.

The energy remains with the euphoric "Breathing Underwater" while softer moments like "Clone" are equally rewarding, seeing the focus completely switch to Emily's show-stopping vocal, which as you can imagine is near on perfection, around twinkling synth overtures it is simply a beauty. "Lost Kitten" is one of the memorable songs from the live set and sees the band at their sensual best. Electronic, glam-indie at it's best Synthetica is a wonderful album by a fresh band who remain at the top of their game.





19. Beach House - Bloom

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There's no hiding the fact that Bloom sounds very much like a close sister to 2010's Teen Dream, full of the same vein of clean, crisp hooks and beautifully lit melody. Beach House are a rare band who've managed to juggle commercial and critical success for two albums now with no sign of giving up.

Bloom defines the bands talents (though perhaps there is nothing quite as gorgeous as "Zebra" or "Take Care" from Teen Dream), offering ten perfectly constructed pop tracks combining both choruses with sparkling, impeccable melodies.

 Its first single "Myth" brings the same magisterial, melodic dream-pop sensibilities that brought swooning reviews from all quarters but seems more dramatic, richer and larger in scale. Twinkling keys and shimmering guitars wrap around Victoria's trademark vocal, perhaps at their finest on "Lazuli", another instant stand-out, luminescent glory (just like the glow in the dark LP sleeve) bathed in a gorgeous wash of electronic shoegaze come dream-pop, "The Hours" sounds equally as familiar, equally as Beach House. I can't remember the last time I heard an album that fits a bands sound quite as much as Bloom, perhaps that's it's biggest compliment and criticism too, but there's no need to push boundaries that don't need pushing at all.

Bloom is simply luscious and will bring all sorts of goosebumps to lovers and dreamers all over the world.



18. 2:54 - 2:54

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2:54 are a band I've been following since their original demos made on garage-band introduced their now trademark atmospherics and dark, brooding melodies that are equal parts menace and alluring wonder. Their self-titled debut sees them (naturally) spruce up that sound with slick production gloss and shiny, reverberating soundscapes...

The album is brimmed with creeping guitar spirals and hauntingly melodic vocals, "Scarlet" oozes with ominous, shimmering mood, "Creeping" has arguably the guitar solo of the year at its finale while Collette's vocal almost makes love to you on the spot and "Sugar" is dark and driving, something which can be used to describe much of the album for there's not much light here, I've seen some reviews fault that, I couldn't care less... 2:54 sounds just great to me.

I recently posted that when I saw the band perform at XOYO six weeks or so back the set sounded like a greatest hits show, that's about the best summation I can pay as to how strong and cohesive 2:54 is.



17. Soap&Skin - Narrow

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Slightly less accessible than the last few picks is Anja Plaschg, aka Soap&Skin, who I've referred to on many occasions as one of the most extraordinary artists in music today in terms of artistic creativity and raw, genuine talent. Her intimate and emotive song-craft makes for (often) difficult but always compelling listening, using piano and voice as her primary instruments Soap&Skin's second LP Narrow perfectly encapsulates all that, being both strikingly beautiful and strangely captivating.

There's no hiding the fact that Narrow is a dark, unnerving album of eight tracks bathed in industrial soundscapes amongst emotional piano and achingly personal delivery that will bring shivers to your spine. I can't understand a word said in "Vater" (Father) but I can feel the pain and emotion in the delivery and intensity in her instruments (a song about the loss of her Father). The next two tracks combine both the dramatic and the beguiling, Anja's version of "Voyage Voyage" combines twinkling ivories with bleak, heart-felt vocals whereas "Deathmental" is delivered in raw anger and aggression amongst harsh samples and synths.

Things turn to the tender and sublime with the exceptionally gorgeous "Cradlesong" and "Wonder", led by serenely restrained piano and orchestral choruses where Anja's inimitable ghostly vocals echo within the melancholic key strokes, subdued, heartfelt and genuinely beautiful and I have to mention "Lost" too, devastating and powerful through minimalistic delivery.

Narrow confirms what a rare talent Soap&Skin in, what a privilege it is to have seen her twice already.



16. Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It

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Following up the stark and elusive Learning (one of my favourite albums of 2010) was never going to be easy but Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas) has managed it in some style, his second LP Put Your Back N 2 It sees a continuation of the slight, delicate arrangements of Hadreas' where echoing vocals and his heartbreaking delivery create a staggeringly beautiful and intimate collection of dark, emotive wonder.

Possibly best beguiling on "All Waters", an emotive, luscious expansion of the Perfume Genius sound and "Hood" , a gorgeous piano led ballad that is direct, powerful and beguilingly beautiful, Hadreas' bruised vocal shines throughout the record, "Dark Parts" sends shivers through your soul, hauntingly plaintive, Put Your Back N 2 It has its wounds out in the open, there for all to see.