30. Jon Hopkins - Collider
Franklin D. Roosevelt famously pronounced fear itself to be the only thing we had to fear. Just a shade over eighty years later and Roosevelt's words rung with a kind of frightening comfort on "Collider", the nine-minute stepping-stone paced creeper to Jon Hopkins' Immunity. While the man’s mesmerizing yet subtle texture shifts were something sonically monumental, the head-nodding grooves over-time sunk to psychological levels. Yet in the track’s stand-out build-ups of throbbing beats and malice tone - standing on a knife's edge, on a cliff's edge, on the edge of insanity maybe - Hopkins' decree of fear without objective identity, while never materialising, showed Collider's affection was in its focus on the very presence and surrounding of fear, rather than any physical shape that naturally presides in carrying.
29. The Joy Formidable - Silent Treatment
“Silent Treatment” (released as an EP, and not as a 7inch) is notably the most melancholic and relaxing of all The Joy Formidable tracks from their sophomore album Wolf’s Law. It doesn’t need energetic electric guitars, or pounding drums to be a standout. With “Silent Treatment”, The Joy Formidable went against the whole loud = better formulae which has dominated their music for quite some time. Its easily the most important track on Wolf’s Law, and more importantly, the track that brings me back to the simplicity of life, and the music of The Joy Formidable.
28. Frankie Rose - Question Reason
Nothing sounds more authentic in indie pop than reverberated cymbal crashes and an electronic drum beat. Frankie Rose’s “Question Reason” is a straight up pop song on her 2013 album Herein Wild. It’s without deep annotations, but this particular track has single written all over it, but it isn’t a single by release standards. “Question Reason” quite simply deserves to be on this list for its magnificent pop structure, taking the popularity out of the equation as Frankie Rose isn’t your typical chart topper. She’s an important Brooklyn export, and one that has been around for a while without fully taking over.
27. Phoenix - Burgeois
27. Phoenix - Burgeois
Amid the cocktail-swirling sonic play that Bankrupt! brought, "Burgeois" stood sympathisingly alone like a defeated loner amid the album’s flash of synth confidence. Disposing of the bouncy guitars of previous albums - as well as the jubilant keyboard play of the present - Thomas Mars, despite drifting in and out the track's low-moan of tone and hushed guitar strings with a dejected linger in his voice, excelled - alongside promising choruses of sparkling electronics and grainy percussion - in pushing the track’s less-positive vibes to an emotionally-engaging delivery. And in all its reflective melancholy and awkward alienation, it was track that was comfortably recognizable at the same time - a track attempting a brave face yet already cracking under the obvious, internal strain.
26. Blood Orange - High Street
Passing through the chronicled memories to the hopeful narrative present on "High Street" and it’s hard not to emphasize with Devonté Hynes’ spoken word passage of vying for the better life under excruciating personal and social challenges. Yet what helped advance this simple three-minute narrative was not just its epitomizing honesty, but too Hynes’ added push for warm synth pads and lone piano keys further intensifying to bring to light the track’s inner-self vulnerability (voiced by Hynes’ soulful echoes in-between verses) as well as further external masking that, subject-wise, reveals a stir of chemical imbalances regarding insecurity, anxiety and the aspirations to be something better.
25. Suede - What Are You Not Telling Me?
Aside from a wintry lowering of choral voices that fade into the chorus, no more than a piano accompanies Brett Anderson’s broken, scattered vocals on "What Are You Not Telling Me?’s" cold, disheartening emptiness. Yet Anderson’s romantic underlay gave the Suede frontman a double-edged sword of desperation - prying for comfort in one instance, and attacking his ‘other half’ in a bleak demand for explanation the next. Thus, given the distant piano keys and straining vocals that offer up the track’s cold apathy, the one-sidedness of the track’s narrative - added to with sharpening strings and despondent guitar to close - comes across impeccably passionate yet effectively more-so, lost in its tragedy.
24. Marnie Stern – Noonan
Marnie Stern just nips in the top 25 because her non-single “Noonan” happens to be one of the most exciting math rock / indie rock / experimental rock tracks of the year. She’s been a consistent force in her musical output, and this years The Chronicles of Marnia is no different. “Noonan” has soaring guitars, layered to perfection, with Stern’s quality, but ever so demanding vocal sitting tightly on top. Where she may come across as a ‘moaning mom’ at times, “Noonan” completely changes that perception of her vocal work – not to mention the quality of the left sided rhythm guitar.
23. These New Puritans - V (Island Song)
Art rock has taken a turn down memory lane in 2013. What was once the stylistic alternative to pop with Kate Bush, Bowie, and Talking Heads owning a genre – has become something of a mix n’ match. Arcade Fire are attempting it, and These New Puritans have, and continue to release art rock / experimental albums. “V (Island Song)” is a nine minute construction of heavy piano notes (replicating bass) and washed over spoken word vocals. Field of Reeds is a fantastic album, one which we missed in terms of a timeframe, but an album that has been in our minds ever since – with “V (Island Song)” being the heart and soul of that record.
22. Sigur Rós - Rafstraumur
There’s a charming fade-out on "Olsen Olsen" that involves the end melody being played by woodwind - more specifically, woodwind that comes across like it’s in the hands of talented youngsters prying to replicate the track’s gracious mood and maturity. This liberating imagination comes up full stretch over a decae later on "Rafstraumur" - a track that starts with a similarly youthful flair of high-pitch woodwinds and strings, and ends on charismatically Sigur Ros’-styled outpours of blossoming instrumentation and Jonsi’s angelic vocals that lead as well as sail amongst the track’s commandeering guitars and passionate blankets of layered percussion.
21. Beach Fossils - Generational Synthetic
Throughout time, indie rock has been something of a desire for fans to adhere to, and musicians to replicate. Beach Fossils replicated the post-punk / garage rock sounds with Clash the Truth, and the second track “Generational Synthetic” stands out because of this change in sound from a more lo-fi / noise orientated state on their self-titled debut from 2010. Clash the Truth had a few singles (all released in 2012 so none of them make our singles list) but it’s the non-single tracks that caught the mark of the listener. It’s tracks like “Generational Synthetic” that captured an audience in the first place, and the reason why Clash the Truth is as underrated as it is criticised.