50. Broadcast 'Berberian Sound Studio'
Deerhunter's 2010 opus Halcyon Digest and Atlas Sound's gorgeous Parallax were an elegant set of sister records; twin longplaying studies in temporality and mortality. Bradford Cox sung about the unstoppable march of time, and it was symbolized by the fact that the guy who once wore dresses on stage and titled an LP Turn It Up, Faggot was growing up. Only here comes Monomania, swinging wildly in the other direction: its press shot showing the entire band in dresses. Musically, its 'nocturnal garage' shows a love of magnetic tape, of noisiness, of dissonance; and scans as occasionally obstreperous in comparison to its predecessor. Here, Deerhunter get ragged; the fried squalls of "Leather Jacket II," gnarly skiffle of "Pensacola," and throttling metal machine music of "Monomania" cranking up the amps and frolicking in the tape hiss.
47. Young Dreams 'Between Places'
46. Shine 2009 'Our Nation'
Releasing 2011’s ironically-titled Realism, Finnish synth-pop duo Shine 2009 found themselves in an surreally internationalist place: based in Helsinki, recording in LA (with Paula Abdul!), sounding like an early-’90s London piano-house act, signing to a label from Sydney. That sense of banal globalism —and the internet's endemic placelessness— serves as the thematic spur for Shine 2009's second record, Our Nation, a longplaying study of what it means to be ‘from’ anywhere in an online era. “Welcome to my town/the heart of Finland,” Sami Suova sings, on "Suomen Sydän," but it’s not ’til he drops the next verse in Finnish that the familiar gives way to the foreign; that there's a sense that this music comes from anywhere other than the blogosphere. By personalizing their employment of cultural kitsch, Shine 2009 change its tenor; passé ’90s sounds no longer signifiers of pastiche, but memory.
45. Club 8 'Above the City'
After Dark 2 was never meant to be on a Best Albums of 2013 list: it was supposed to come out in 2012. But if famous stickler Johnny Jewel —the downbeat-disco producer behind the Italians Do It Better imprint and label acts Glass Candy, Chromatics, Desire, Symmetry, Mirage, and Farah— didn't make us wait, it wouldn't feel the same. The follow-up to 2007's After Dark was never going to have the definitive, sound-minting, statement-making quality of its predecessor, but, in terms of pure sound, After Dark 2 shows Jewel in fine form. Desire's "Tears from Heaven" and Chromatics "Cherry" are great, but the album's defined by its four songs by Glass Candy, which are a sublime reminder that Ida No is one of pop music's great mystics, and that we've been awaiting GC's LP Body Work for a really long time.
43. Molly Nilsson 'The Travels'
Calling a song "The Power Ballad" seems like a piece of easy indie-musician irony, but Swedish synth-pop minimalist Molly Nilsson is making a joke as deadpan as her lyrical delivery. Her dinky, jaunty, handclappy tune has none of the hallmarks of power-balladry; instead, it's a sentimental song about power in society, a lament not for love-lost but for the way church/state/media/fashion serve as systems of oppression. Now five matching-two-tone-geometric LPs into a cult career, Nilsson's ever-wry lyrics are better than ever; managing to be both silly and pointed. "I wanna be a sister to you/and do things normal siblings don't do," she smirks, mid-standout "Philadelphia," and the line is at once comic and romantic. Her record is full of smart (and smart-ass) lyrics, situating Nilsson —and the friends and lovers she sings about and to— as perpetual outsiders content with that status.