Our staff picks for 2013’s best albums continue with web editor/reviews editor Kevin Korber.
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
This Brooklyn band has found subtle ways to tweak their core sound to keep things fresh, and Trouble Will Find Me is an excellent example of that. The album infuses the National’s signature sound with more grandiose despair, creating songs that are grand and sweeping in scope as well as emotion. Misery has never sounded so triumphant.
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
Few artists could juggle the lyrical and musical ideas that Case deftly handles on her verbosely-titled new album. Alternately longing and defiant, the album shows a side of case that we haven’t seen before. It’s an honest, naked masterpiece from one of North America’s greatest songwriters.
Richard Thompson – Electric
By now, we should expect nothing but excellence from Richard Thompson. Fortunately, the man rarely disappoints, and Electric finds him infused with a new-found sense of vigor and passion. In a music world where young, supposedly innovative bands sound hopelessly bored with themselves, Thompson’s pure excitement is something to take note of.
Albert Hammond, Jr. – AHJ
The Strokes may have fallen a little flat with Comedown Machine, but guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. seems to have an interesting career ahead of him outside of the band, as shown by his third solo release. Recorded with the brashness and confidence that the Strokes had in their early days, Hammond’s record also has a beating heart in the middle; he finds the perfect balance between cool and caring.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
This, my friends, is how you do a throwback. The masterful second album from the New Zealand/American-based rock band sounds like an artifact from music’s past at points. The band’s sensibilities, though, are definitely modern, and they never let their love of the past overpower their work. The result is an album that rises above mere pastiche into something far greater.