25. Everlasting Arms---Vampire Weekend
Everlasting Arms' charms are difficult to explain and nearly impossible to ignore, found in subtle touches like the track's wiggly guitar interludes, and percussion that pounds just a touch harder than you'd expect. Ezra Koenig's love-lorn pinnings have never sounded nearly as genuine, both unnervingly earnest and quietly affecting.
24. Line of Fire---Junip
Junip's opener starts out with mellow organs and an acoustic strum, but even then, there's a sense that something is percolating. Though Jose Gonzales' dire lyrics never rise above their normative cool, the sonic world around them come crashing down, the tornado of sounds billowing out into a raging, intimidating new form.
23. Jasmine---Jai Paul
Blink, and you just might miss Jasmine; the most famous song of Jai Paul's young career also happens to be one of his smallest and most unfettered, refusing to ever rise above its steady rumble, almost daring you to miss out. The tune only meets listeners on its own term, drawing you in close before revealing its wondrous sound cache, and sensuous sway.
22. Byegone---Volcano Choir
No one grandstands quite like Justin Vernon, and in Byegone, he's found quite the stage. The song is powered a mighty guitar refrain, pulled away during the hushed verses before coming back with a vengeance as our triumphantly troubadour commands, "Set sail!"
21. Breakers---Local Natives
In using Breakers as the lead single for Hummingbird, Local Natives became guilty of false advertising, promoting an album prone to subtlety and rumination with a track that shakes the rafters. The song is just enormous, its dewy, unhurried verses perfectly belying the surging drums and gorgeously wily harmonies of its chorus.
20. Black Sea---The Field
The emotional pulse of Black Sea, the eleven-and-a-half minute beast that serves as Cupid's Head's centerpiece, is difficult to keep your finger on. The track starts out in breezy fashion, adding some components and (more importantly) taking others away as a means of completely flipping the script by the song's conclusion, each change and shift initially imperceptible, then suddenly all-encompassing.
The Scottie Pippen of The National's latest disc (spoiler alert: we'll meet the Jordan in a bit), Graceless towers over the rest of Trouble Will Find Me with its nervous energy, emotional urgency, and cathartic closing act. Drummer Bryan Devendorf nearly sprints from the word, 'go,' forming the connective tissue between the jittery first few moments, and its headlong, go-for-broke climax.
17. *Tie* Afterlife---Arcade Fire and Supersymmerty---Arcade Fire
For all of the swagger and cool that Reflektor exudes through-out its runtime, the one-two punch that closes the disc out sure does wear its heart on its sleeve. Afterlife features the sort of life-affirming reverie for which the Canadian wunderkinds known and loved, taken down a notch in scale and scope, its surging synths and whispered coos wrapping around eardrums like laundry fresh out of the dryer. Supersymmetry is smaller but no less resplendent, layering innumerable electronic sounds on top of one another until they envelope everything in sight.
16. Were Before---Cults
On Were Before, Cults bust out nearly every trick in their bag, (duel vocalists, cranium-scaping high-notes, over-powering rhythm section, unspoken strife, varied instrumentation) and cram them into a three-minute showcase that represents the finest song of their career. Madeline Follin's band-defining croon has never been in such fine form, displaying strength, pain, and longing on a track that more people should have discovered by now.
15. Hive---Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples and Casey Veggies
Who needs a big, splashy production when you've got MC's like this? Hive's three verses all rank among the best of the year, from Earl's opening taunt and Act Two tour through the slimy underbelly of Los Angeles, all the way down to the menacing jeers of Veggies' cooly delivered closer. Four words to live your life by when listening to Hive: TURN. THE. BASS. UP.
13. *Tie* she found now---My Bloody Valentine and
who sees you---My Bloody Valentine
My two favorites from My Bloody Valentine's long-awaited return represent two completely different approaches to m b v's unique world of sonics. she found now's endless tunnel of reverb creates an out-of-body experience, like being lifted up to heaven to wings of contentment and peace. who sees you, on the other hand, finds listeners caught in the middle of a wind storm, the track's first-half bluster of guitars eventually torn in two by serrated ax-play that cuts like a knife.
11. *Tie* Suit & Tie---Justin Timberlake and
Hey, you, person who just let out a sigh at seeing Suit & Tie ranked this high: don't even think about judging until you've heard JT's comeback single in headphones! The treasure-trove of rotating parts that Timbaland cooked up here only gets better with closer examination, but Timberlake's defining 2013's track as a vocalist remains Mirrors. A no-holds-barred love ballad that will likely become a fixture at every wedding reception from here to eternity, the song reminds us that pop songs centered around unabashed affection can still come off as non-cynical and heartfelt, even in the year 2013.
Hype Starts Here's Top 50 Albums of 2013:
Hype Starts Here's Top 100 Songs of 2013: