Albums to watch

Deafheaven: Provided 2013's most highly-rated album, and the 4th top-rated album in our all-time chart

The ADM Top 10 2013

The most acclaimed albums of the year: you can't argue with mathematics

Now everyone's had their say with the Best Albums of 2013 roundups, it's time to take stock of the cold hard facts of what really were the most critically-acclaimed albums over the past 12 months.

The AnyDecentMusic top 10 of 2013 is the most reliable guide to what earned the most extensive overall praise from reviewers. It's the widest survey of worldwide critical opinion around, and you can't argue with mathematics.

We have excluded from the rankings any albums with fewer than 10 reviews from our list of 50 sources from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Ireland, and the formula we apply to arrive at the ADM rating takes the number of reviews into account.

NB: The ratings in our database are to two decimal places although we display them to one decimal place. So, for example, Patty Griffin's's album has achieved a higher rating than Future Of The Left, which also appears with an 8.5 rating.

Below, we give our analysis of what it all means.

 

8.8

Deafheaven
Sunbather

Sunbather is a future classic, no matter where you pigeonhole it, and that's the mark of a true sonic masterpiece - Beats Per Minute

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8.7

My Bloody Valentine
m b v

m b v leaves all other post-rock experimentalists looking like trivial dilettantes. If jet engines could sing, these would be their hymns - Independent on Sunday

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8.5

Patty Griffin
American Kid

Seals Griffin's reputation as a remarkable artist in the roots tradition - Irish Times

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8.5

Future Of The Left
How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident

Marries prickly melody with glossy discord, eclipsing not only its predecessors but its entire genre - The Fly

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8.4

Nils Frahm
Spaces

A work of gentle genius, and one of the year's best albums - The Quietus

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8.3

Laura Marling
Once I Was An Eagle

Once I Was an Eagle is close to a masterpiece, a heavenly composition with just enough hell to keep things from feeling too familiar - Slant

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8.3

John Grant
Pale Green Ghosts

A genuinely remarkable album: self-obsessed but completely compelling, profoundly discomforting but beautiful - The Guardian

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8.3

Danny Brown
Old

It's an entire universe in an album: Brown's past and present in the lyrics, the past and present of hip-hop in the music - Faster Louder

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8.2

Kanye West
Yeezus

Yeezus feels very proto- something, the roots of some aesthetic that has yet to be minted. It's revolutionary at its most urgent - Consequence of Sound

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8.2

Julia Holter
Loud City Song

One of the most ambitious, unusual, and engaging albums of the year - Spin

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And the next 10

Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City
El-P and Killer Mike - Run The Jewels
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap
Burial - Rival Dealer
William Tyler - Impossible Truth
Jason Isbell - Southeastern
David Bowie - The Next Day
Tim Hecker - Virgins

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In the handful of years since we have been compiling both the ADM albums of the year and the Poll of Polls, which amalgamates our sources' end-of-year lists, there has never been a greater contrast between the two.

Only two of the 2013 ADM top 10 albums listed above figured in the poll of polls top 10 - and one of these, Kanye West's Yeezus, is only there after two higher-rated albums were excluded (Matthew E.White's Big Inner was released in 2012 in the US and Jenny Hval's Innocence is Kinky didn't receive sufficient reviews).

The other, My Bloody Valentine's comeback LP, was one of the event albums of the year,  (and probably of the last two decades in many people's eyes) and was always going to be hugely prominent in any year-end reckoning.

However what to make of our most highly-rated album of 2013, and our all-time chart No.4 no less, Deafheaven's Sunbather, struggling to reach a lowly 27 in the year-end polls?

Or the albums at No.3, No.4, and No.5 failing to feature ANYWHERE in the top 50 in the year-end lists?

From the other perspective, how is it that the albums from David Bowie, Arctic Monkeys, The National, and Daft Punk could achieve respectable but hardly stunning ratings on their release and then go on to feature so strongly in the best albums roundup?

We are, of course, comparing the results of two different processes: there is an inevitable degree of compromise in year-end roundups which favours those wider-appeal albums which feature in a lot of individuals' lists over those albums which feature very highly in fewer lists, while assessments at the time of release tend to be given by reviewers who are specialists in that album's genre and thus more likely to give a favourable rating.

However that is the case every year, and that hasn't stopped the more experimental likes of Grimes, Tune-Yards, Fuck Buttons, Japandroids, Sleigh Bells, Big Boi, St Vincent, Wild Beasts and others in previous years from featuring in both the ADM chart and the end-of-year poll of polls.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that the ADM albums of 2013 comprises releases which have attracted fervent support from those inclined towards that form of music while the poll of polls listings exclude many releases which could be deemed divisive. Black metal screaming (Deafheaven), acerbic hardcore alt.rock (Future of The Left), field recordings and incidental noise (Nils Frahm), visceral trap-rap (Danny Brown), experimental "new weird america" (Julia Holter) . . . all sit happily in exalted positions in the ADM rankings but are replaced in the poll of polls by Vampire Weekend, Daft Punk, David Bowie, Disclosure et al.

Does one list have more merit than the other? As with most issues regarding music, that's an entirely subjective debate.

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