Best albums of 2013: 30-21

Welcome back, friends, to the list that never ends. It’s time for the next instalment of our countdown of the year’s best albums – as voted for by the music writers of the Guardian and the Observer. And come back tomorrow for Nos 20-11

See our countdown of 40-31 here

30 Julia Holter – Loud City Song

What we said: “Horns Surrounding Me features breathless panting as if running from the paparazzi, while World laments on a ‘singer on the fifth floor’ with vocals so full of whispered intent that you can almost feel hot breath on your neck. Elsewhere, Barbara Lewis’s soul classic Hello Stranger gets a chillout makeover, which doesn’t quite work; but any faults are obliterated by the album’s closer, City Appearing. In a stark premonition, Holter describes a city empty and collapsed; ‘Bright blue flames under my fingers,’ she coos with eerie serenity, before the instruments crescendo and then – puff! – the world Holter has created implodes. A beautiful reminder that we’re all doomed.”

Reading on mobile? Watch Julia Holter’s In the Green Wild here

29 Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

What we said: To our shame, we didn’t review Anxiety. Our apologies to you all.

Reading on mobile? Watch Autre Ne Veut’s Play by Play here

28 Jai Paul – Jai Paul

What we said: The album was an unofficial leak, and so we did not review it. That didn’t prevent people voting for it, however. Read about the leak here.

Reading on mobile? Watch Jai Paul’s Jasmine here

27 Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

What we said: This album got its votes on the basis of its US release – it has not been released in the UK yet and so has not been reviewed. But you can read a Sky Ferreira interview here.

Reading on mobile? Watch Sky Ferreira’s You’re Not The One here

26 Pet Shop Boys – Electric

What we said: “The album relocates a duo last seen sniping from the sidelines – albeit very wittily – at a world that seemed to be moving on without them to the centre of the action: usually a nightclub dancefloor, where they’re variously to be found celebrating hedonism to a ferocious rhythm track (Shouting in the Evening) or gazing, simultaneously lovestruck and a little troubled, at the younger patrons (Fluorescent). If the lyrics of Vocal appear to be a reaffirmation of the pair’s belief in the power of pop music – ‘expressing passion, explaining pain, aspirations for a better life are ordained … anything I want to say out loud will be sung’ – the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s The Last to Die, which replaces the hoarse vocals and raging E Street Band with a four-to-the-floor beat and Tennant’s careful enunciation, sounds like an expression of pop’s adaptability. “

Reading on mobile? Watch Pet Shop Boys’ Thursday here

25 Deerhunter – Monomania

What we said: “Few musicians working today are more prolific than Bradford Cox, who records as Atlas Sound and, with four bandmates and a heavier rock set-up, as Deerhunter. For Monomania, his ninth album since 2005 (not counting two EPs and a glut of online demos), he reportedly wrote more than 20 songs for every one that ended up on the finished record. Somehow, it all sounds effortless: a whistlestop tour of rock’n’roll styles – from blues on Pensacola to deranged glam rock on Leather Jacket II – that never lets up. There is a form of mania at work here, but the results are propulsive and ecstatic.”

Reading on mobile? Watch Deerhunter’s Back to the Middle here

24 Matthew E White – Big Inner

What we said: “For all the 40-year-old reference points, Big Inner never feels like a pastiche; it’s audibly more than the sum of its influences, in the same manner as Lambchop’s Nixon, and does things none of the artists mentioned above did. Its originality may be down to White’s background in jazz, which would account for the occasional squalls of skronking atonal sax, and for his willingness to abandon standard verse-chorus structures for songs that slowly unfurl, changing their mood as they go, and the strange chord progressions and shifts in key that decorate even the most straightforward songs here.”

Reading on mobile? Watch Matthew E White’s One of These Days

23 Savages – Silence Yourself

What we said: “Silence Yourself reveals Savages to be a cross between the Horrors (fondness for black, allegiance to art-rock, time spent in Dalston) and Sleater-Kinney (devotion to Wire, lack of male members, stentorian vibrato) with a soupcon of the Knife (fondness for manifestos, tribal beats, forbidding glee). It is a series of dynamic affirmations and imperatives that begins with a lift from a film by John Cassavetes, which, consciously or not, lands Savages in the slipstream of at least one other femme-leaning punk band (Le Tigre and their polemical What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes).”

Reading on mobile? Watch Savages’ Husbands here

22 DJ Rashad – Double Cup

What we said: Once again, we didn’t review this one.

Reading on mobile? Watch DJ Rashad’s Pass That Shit

21 Paramore – Paramore

What we said: “Previous Paramore albums were crunchy rock records with crisp production, but this is more loose and playful, while still indulging the band’s ability to pull off mammoth, arena-friendly choruses. Ain’t It Fun gambols its way to a surprising gospel-choir climax; there are nods to 90s No Doubt in inevitable hits Fast in My Car and Still Into You; and the whole thing is wrapped up with a heavy grunge dirge, wrong-footing the listener once again. At 17 tracks, it’s a little overlong, but Paramore’s lively new incarnation suits them well.”

Reading on mobile? Watch Paramore’s Still Into You here © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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