Top 10 albums of 2013

Our Top 10 Albums of 2013

We’re not just here to look back at music made between 1980 and 1989, sitting in a rocking chair with a tartan blanket on our knees and moaning that all modern music is rubbish. To be fair, a lot of it is, but if today’s acts aren’t to your taste, it’s reassuring to know that many of the acts who were around in the ’80s are still making music today. This is a list of our ten favourite albums released in 2013 by so-called “’80s acts”.

10. Adam Ant – Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter

Many years in the making, Adam’s impressively-titled comeback album finally saw the light of day this year. You’d have to call it a mixed bag; effectively a scrapbook of songs recorded at various points over the past decade, it suffers in places from a lack of quality control, but highlights such as the single Cool Zombie, the tribute to ’60s rocker Vince Taylor and the ascerbic Bulls**t make it worth the effort.

Available on iTunes

9. Paul McCartney – New

For all the “Oh Christ, not Hey Jude again” cynicism following his appearances at the Diamond Jubilee concert and Olympics opening ceremony, it’s clear that McCartney isn’t content to sit on his considerable laurels. From the urgent opener Save Us via the irresistibly catchy title track to the poignant closer Scared, Sir Paul is clearly still up for it on his most consistent album for many a long year.

Available on iTunes

8. Madness – Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da (Deluxe Edition)

Okay, it’s a bit of a cheat since the original version of the album came out in 2012, but the four disc special edition adds seven new tracks including the atmospheric Deolali and irresistible Big Time Sister which really should have made it onto the original album. There’s also a treasure trove of demo versions, remixes, the whole album performed live at the 2012 House Of Fun Weekender and a DVD of the previous year’s show which captures the album in embryonic form.

Available on iTunes

7. Depeche Mode – Delta Machine

The Mode returned this year with another set of electronic anthems. The guitars may be out of favour for now but there’s a harsh, uncompromising sound in evidence, even on the ballad Heaven, while the stompalong Soothe My Soul harks back to Personal Jesus. There’s not much new ground being broken here but at least they remembered to bring some songs along this time, which is not always the case.

Available on iTunes

6. Elvis Costello & The Roots – Wise Up Ghost

A fascinating experiment sees Costello revisiting and referencing his back catalogue in the company of hip hop outfit The Roots to form something brand new. Many of the tracks use samples and lyrics from existing Costello tracks, most blatantly Stick Out Your Tongue which reuses lyrics from Pills And Soap and National Ransom, but the album functions as a standalone work as well as a treasure hunt for Elvis fanatics.

Available on iTunes

5. Johnny Hates Jazz – Magnetized

With the original line-up back together for the first time in quarter of a century (although Calvin Hayes left before the album was recorded), Johnny Hates Jazz have produced another great pop album; its highlights (the title track, You Belong To You, Release You) would sit comfortably on their outstanding 1988 début Turn Back The Clock. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until 2038 for the next one.

Available on iTunes

4. David Bowie – The Next Day

Just when we all thought he’d retired, Bowie unexpectedly broke his silence in January with the release of a haunting new single Where Are We Now? Even this was a red herring, as Bowie’s fragile vocals suggested that the album might be a sombre, reflective affair. No chance. From the opening snare drum beat of the title track, this is a confident, swaggering album with rockers such as The Stars (Are Out Tonight) and (You Will) Set The World On Fire proving that there’s plenty of life in the old (diamond) dog yet.

Available on iTunes

3. Pet Shop Boys – Electric

Their second album in as many years, Electric is the polar opposite of 2012’s very relaxed Elysium. In many ways Electric harks back to their 1993 dance set Relentless, but here the largely wordless dancefloor anthems like Axis and Shouting In The Evening rub shoulders with proper songs with none-more-PSB titles such as Bolshy and Love Is A Bourgeois Construct. If Elysium gave the impression that Neil and Chris were ageing gracefully, this blows it away.

Available on iTunes

2. Prefab Sprout – Crimson/Red

Although he hasn’t enjoyed the best of health recently, Paddy McAloon made this album pretty much single handed and it’s comforting to hear his distinctive voice on driving opener The Best Jewel Thief In The World and to know he can still write beautiful, affecting pop songs like List Of Impossible Things and Billy. McAloon claims that he makes music for himself these days, let’s hope he continues to share it with us.

Available on iTunes

1. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – English Electric

Their second album since reforming in the mid-’00s, OMD still have the knack of writing hauntingly catchy melodies cloaked in a cloud of weirdness. Tracks such as Stay With Me and Dresden are right up there with OMD classics of old, while their obsession with historical figures (Helen Of Troy) is still evident and the unsettling found-soundscapes as heard on Dazzle Ships rear their head again on Please Remain Seated and Decimal. It’s like they’ve never been away.

Available on iTunes

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