I gotta be honest—I had a hard time finding a whole lot to love about this year’s pop and rock offerings. I gave some good reviews to albums in both genres, but even then, I often based it on respect for the work more than personal enjoyment. However, when I liked something—I found I really liked it. There were a few from newer or current acts, but interestingly, a number of these came from established pop/rock icons who were making a return to music. This is definitely a subjective list, but in no particular order, here are some records I felt were standouts in 2013.
The surprise of the year for me, One Direction really grew up on this album, venturing away from some of the earlier gimmicky bubble-gum work and producing some music that made me take them seriously. Take a listen—you might be surprised.
I have to admit that I’ve not been much of a Katy Perry fan up to now, but this record really won me over. Full of hooks and hits, but still having substance and honesty. I personally feel this is Katy Perry’s best work to date.
In my review of this record, I found I had to eat my words from earlier reports about Sky Ferreira. It took way longer than it should have, and was surrounded by some negative publicity—but at the end of the day, Ferreira yielded an album that is worth the wait and does her justice as an emerging artist.
Call this one the “comeback album of the year.” At age 66, David Bowie came out of retirement, surprising us all with a record that is every bit as creative and powerful as his earlier efforts. A late classic.
Paul McCartney, New
Another established icon who by most accounts should be retired by now, Paul McCartney shows no signs of slowing down. New is a near-perfect blend of innovation and tradition, and stands up well alongside Sir Paul’s already-stellar discography.
An exceedingly ambitious double album from an already-ambitious band, I felt upon listening to Reflektor that I was listening to a magnum opus. I think history will show that this album was a defining moment in their career.