#5 Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
The reason this album by two "robots" is so good is it's humanity. Most credit Daft Punk's success with this album to their collaboration with Pharrell Williams. Wrong. Their collaboration with Nile Rodgers is what gives this album a heart beat and a soul and a trip to the top of the pop charts. Nile is a one man goldmine of hits. He has worked with some of the most successful names in the world of music from Diana Ross to David Bowie. His signature disco guitar welded with DP's beats on several tracks allowed DP to come back making a huge statement showing that they're the top of the food chain in electronic music.
#4 Delta Machine by Depeche Mode
Speaking of electronic, Depeche Mode also release what could be considered a come back album this year. A lot of alternative music at this time can trace their roots to DM. Sultry rhythms mixed with haunting vocals and a Gretsch guitar. This album would have been the perfect follow up to their masterpiece, Violator. "Sooth My Soul" and "Heaven" both stand out. This album reaches out to their delta blues influences interweaving blues guitar and religious themes over a drum machine. So classic Depeche Mode. Simply lovely.
#3 Heartthrob by Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara went for broke with their album, Heartthrob. They officially said adieu to their coffee shop roots and set up shop in the land of popular music. This non-pop duo out-popped popular music with the best pop album of the year. Even the mighty Taylor Swift is counted as one of their biggest fans. Their songs often speak of break-ups, make-ups, and hey lets get a little "Closer" (he he). This is the type of album you'll find being sung in folks' cars coming and going from a night on the town. Tons of hooks. Tegan and Sara should not be considered obscure alterna-chicks any longer.
#2 The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches
Chvrches is this year's great discovery. A throw back to 80's synth-pop (Depeche Mode influenced) with heavier themes. Singer Lauren Mayberry has an angelic voice and looks like she is 13 years old. Come to find out, she is not 13 but has a law and journalism degree. Top to bottom, this album has one infectious groove after another. Songs "Lies", "Gun", and "Recover" are instant ear worms. I can't recommend this album enough.
#1 Kveikur by Sigur Ros
We've been spoiled by Sigur Ros. In 2010, lead singer Jonsi released his first solo album "Go". In 2011 Sigur Ros released the wonderful live album "Inni". Last year they gave us the other worldly "Valtari". And this year they blessed us with the truly amazing and brilliant "Kveikur". Kveikur is a stark departure from last year's Valtari. Kjartan Sveinsson left the group after Valtari, thus taking much of the ethereal calm with him. Kveikur is more similar to Jonsi's solo work, much more elemental and brash. Sigur Ros clearly falls outside any genre. They paint pictures with their music. Kveikur feels like you're witnessing the creation of a volcanic island. Listen to "Brennistein" (translated means sulfur) or "Isjaki" (translated means iceberg) you get the idea why. They are from Iceland, so it makes kinda sense. I must also say that the live experience is intense. One cannot just casually go see them live. Sigur Ros can only be experienced and absorbed. Likewise, this album won't be appreciated by casual listening. I enjoy it best every Saturday morning as I watch the sun rise on my way to my favorite running spot on the wooded Loveland trail here in Ohio. This album, and basically everything Sigur Ros does, makes most music seem amateurish and shallow. Kveikur is without a doubt the best album of 2013.