It's the final countdown, literally, as we look back at 12 months of brilliant albums
Michael, Andrew, Ed, Gaby

10:51 19th December 2013

Putting this album list together, we realised just how utterly brilliant 2013 has truly been for music.

These are our 50 favourite albums of the year, and everything on this list is basically, incredible. The albums here have been played in our office, our homes and during that long, sweaty commute between the two for months on end. It is thanks to these albums that we remained sane in 2013.

One of the best things about our 50 favourite albums, is the sheer range of genres that have excelled over the past 12 months. From the indie sounds of Arctic Monkeys and Jagwar Ma to the pop tunes of St Lucia and Chvrches, to the rock of Queens Of The Stone Age and the electronic majesty of Disclosure and Toro Y Moi - every box has been ticked this year.

Check out our 50 favourite albums of 2013 here. We're fairly sure you'll agree, that this year has been awesome. See you in 2014.

  • 50. Verb T - I Remain: This stands alone as a masterpiece for UK Hip-Hop veteran Verbs, encompassing masterful lyricism and sandwiching it between laidback grooves and a cheeky sense of humour.

  • 49. Guards - In Guards We Trust: If you were hoping for something a little more commercial from this year's MGMT album, then the Guards record is the one you should have been listening to instead. Experimental, sixties-influenced guitar-pop with an emphasis on songs over psychedelia, In Guards We Trust is one of the year's most overlooked albums.

  • 48. Bastille - Bad Blood: One of the big breakout acts of the year, Bastille have done great things for pop music in 2013. The album is packed with dark, macabre influences (most notably the work of David Lynch), but at the same time is fit to bursting with perfect pop singles. A deservedly massive album.

  • 47. Crystal Fighters - Cave Rave: One of the most underrated bands on the planet, Crystal Fighters second album brought their loved-up indie sounds back down to earth after the no-holds-barred, intergalactic craziness of debut album, Star Of Love. From opening track 'Wave' to finale 'Everywhere', the message was one of love and the album's good nature was impossible to resist - also making for one of the most danceable records of 2013.

  • 46. Daughter - If You Leave: An album deeper than the sea itself, matching heart wrenching poetry with instrumentals that lend every word huge weight. An epic, melancholy soundscape compacted into one glorious album, long train journeys will never be the same.

  • 45. Chase and Status - Brand New Machine: Criminally underrated, Brand New Machine sees production duo Chase and Status airing some of the best material of their career so far - a varied collage of house, hip hop, drum and bass, and more. Particular highlights include the soaring 'Count On Me', the stonking Pusha T assisted 'Machine Gun', and the 90s house inspired 'Deeper Devotion'. It should have been much bigger.

  • 44. John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts: The former Czars man dropped this awesome album of electro rock met with tender synth-folk, backing tales of anger, heartache and self-loathing but delivered with authority and drive. Recorded in Reykjavik and featuring collaborations with Sinead O'Connor, Pale Green Ghosts is haunting, evocative and ecclectic - showing Grant as one of the most imaginative and chamelon-like songwriters of our time.

  • 43. Empire Of The Sun - Ice On The Dune: The second Empire Of The Sun album bettered the band's debut in every possible way. Bigger songs, better production and even more time spent on their giant hats. Lead single 'Alive' was the weakest track on the album, which was packed with slick, electronic pop masterpieces, which grew the sound of their first release and threw some more-than-welcome Daft Punk inspiration into the mix. The album delivered their finest moment yet in the shape of gloriously feelgood album track, 'Concert Pitch'.

  • 42. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest: One of the year's most chilled out moments, and one of it's most complete and accomplished. Turning static and feedback into pure bliss, the hype surrounding Tomorrow's Harvest was more than justified.

  • 41. Foals - Holy Fire: When Foals dropped 'Inhaler' last year, not only was it probably the track of 2012 but it also left the world in wait for what would become one of the best albums of 2013. Holy Fire isn't just the noodlings of five math-y scenesters - this is a Rock record with a capital R. Retaining their trademark intensity but shedding that introverted awkwardness, Holy Fire is Foals at their most organic and universal. This is arena-sized art-rock. Make way for Foals.

  • 40. Mogwai - Les Revenants soundtrack: One of the TV events of the year, French TV drama Les Revenants also came with added emotional clout of a soundtrack by iconic Scottish band, Mogwai. A desperately fragile and melancholy listening experience, the sense of loss and heartbreak dealt with in the TV show was captured perfectly by Mogwai's music. A must-listen album - and not only for people whose relatives have come back from the dead.

  • 39. Rudimental - Home: A melting pot of the finest urban talent on the UK music scene, Rudimental's debut album was a success from start to finish, with hit singles at every turn and a huge showcase of talent - from the producers themselves, to the carefully chosen vocalists who made the guestlist.

  • 38. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris: It once seemed the mouthy Tyler, The Creator was the star of Odd Future - of course, this theory was nixed as soon as fellow member Frank Ocean unleashed his soulful 'Channel Orange' masterpiece in 2012. And now we have Earl Sweatshirt. At only 19, he's quietly released one of the rap albums of the year. The moody, Neptunes inspired, lolloping production is simply the backdrop for Earl's staggeringly impressive wordplay and lyricism. The startLingly frank, bitterly nostalgic 'Chum' is just one of many highlights.

  • 37. London Grammar - If You Wait: After seemingly coming from nowhere before being dogged by lazy comparisons, London Grammar emerged the other side in a class of their own. The hypnotic crescendo of 'Metal & Dust' begs that the band should explore their more dramatically danceable elements in the future, while the utterly gorgeous 'Flickers' and toweringly tender 'Strong' raise the heart to the back of the throat. Rather than blow their load like many debuts do, If You Wait sees LG lay an ambitious foundation, with the promise of much bigger things to come.

  • 36. Sigur Ros - Kveikur: Sigur Ros never disappoint, no matter how difficult their albums are - and Kveikur is one of the band's most awkward releases to date. After years of glacial, epic soundscapes, the Icelandic trio went dark and angry on their 2013 album, much to the surprise of many fans. Despite the guitar-heavy sounds, however, the band's inherent song-writing skills were still in evidence, with killer tracks such as 'Brennistein' and 'Isjaki' making a huge impression, and sounding incredible live. Not the band's finest album, its true, but fine instalment in the band's growing legacy.

  • 35. 65 Days of Static - Wild Light: An album with no vocals you say? Instead, on Wild Light, the instrumental becomes the voice of this record, showcasing the band's astonishingly intelligent and progressive compositions. Just when you thought they couldn't get any better, 65DoS dropped this dose of pure post-rock perfection in September - topping their already insanely high standards with the best album of their career.

  • 34. The Weeknd - Kiss Land: Some of the best albums of the year were debuts, and this is one of them - although technically, Abel Tesfaye had released three mixtapes under his The Weeknd moniker. Each had quickly garnered cult status thanks to the moody, futuristic R&B production and dark, drug and sex referencing lyrics. Tesfaye stuck to the same winning formula for his studio debut, but with tighter production and bigger ambition that ultimately pays off. From the epic opener 'Professional' to the Portishead sampling 'Belong To The World', Kiss Land is an album with a strong identity.

  • 33. Public Service Broadcasting - Inform, Educate, Entertain: A quintessentially British debut, Inform, Educate, Entertain sees PBS take soundbites from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material and set it to soaring and scorching post-rock backing to "teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future". And how. The future is here, the future is PBS.

  • 32. St Lucia - When The Night: Proper pop music for proper grown-ups, the debut St Lucia album is a joy from start to finish. A collection of huge songs, each one deserving of single status, St Lucia brought the pleasure back into pop music, long since stolen by EDM beats and TV talent show winners. Lead single 'Elevate' is a future summer smash, and with a full UK release still to happen, big things lie ahead for Jean-Philip Grobler.

  • 31. Atoms for Peace - Amok: Thom Yorke has long dabbled with electronic music, putting out some wonderful records in his time. However, in teaming up with RHCP's Flea and producer Nigel Godrich, his vision has been solidified into a monster of static and throbbing percussion. An epic album, and one that rivals some of Radiohead's best.

  • 30. Pusha T - My Name Is My Name: Pusha found fame with his brother Malice as one half of early 2000s duo Clipse, and 2013 is the year he decided to break out on his own. And we're glad he did - MNIMN isn't the best rap album of the year, as Pusha promised, but it is one of them, brimming with swagger, personality and excellent lyricism. Pusha's new relationship with Kanye West clearly influenced the record in the best possible way, with the rapper utilising GOOD music producer Hudson Mohawke to best effect, as well as West's own production talents. The storming opener 'King Push' is probably the finest rap song of the year.

  • 29. Asgeir - In The Silence: An absolutely breathtakingly tender yet ambitious blend of folk and electronica, Asgeir's English translation of his Icelandic debut was made available online in October. With a sound that's soaring and ambitious yet charmingly human, In The Silence is an album that's as glacial yet evocative and otherworldly as the country he hails from. It receives it's proper physical release in the UK in January, so expect to see it topping lists next year too.

  • 28. Manic Street Preachers - Rewind The Film: James Dean Bradfield once said that there 'two versions' of the Manics - the grand anthemic band that brought us Generation Terrorists and Everything Must Go, or the twisted post-punk explosion that brought us The Holy Bible and Journal For Plague Lovers. Here, we find another. While it shares some of the stately grandeur of This Is My Truth, Rewind The Film carries a great deal more adventure, scope, eclecticism, hope and vibrancy. This is the Manic Street Preachers at their most pragmatic - facing their failures but sounding oh so triumphant. They're still as full of rage as they ever were, but rather than sledgehammering it home by donning a balaclava and setting fire to the Top Of The Pops studio, they're comfortably carrying it with them in their DNA. Rewind The Film is a future classic that deserves to be heard and treasured.

  • 27. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories: The year's most impressive album campaign could only disappoint - and disappoint the album did, when it was initially released. We expected a cosmic explosion of electronic disco sounds, and what we got, it seemed, was a sad robot crying at the disco. Absolute proof of the danger of too much hype, Random Access Memories really only came into its own months after its release, as the novelty of the Pharrell tracks dimmed and the subtleties of tracks such as 'Give Life Back To Music' and 'Doin It Right' began to shine. Not the comeback we wanted or hoped for, but one we love nonethless.

  • 26. Danny Brown - Old: This time last year, slept-on, skinny jean-rocking, squawking rapper Danny Brown tweeted "Y'all n*ggas sleeping on Young Thug .. 2013 watch, y'all wake up." He was right - wake up we did, thanks to his thrilling third album, Old. Get past the drugs referencing, the comedy sex lines, the crazy voice - Brown knows how to tell a story, and he draws the listener in effortlessly with his enthralling tale of rags to riches. The high octane tracks on here - especially the Rustie produced 'Dope Song'- are a sonic slap in the face that leave you with a massive grin. Danny can also do serious, however, which he displays to best effect in the melancholic, reflective closer 'Float On'.

  • 25. Zomby - With Love: Zomby is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to music, this album is his best piece of work yet featuring a huge tracklist of instrumentals that range from dark to beautiful.

  • 24. Drake - Nothing Was the Same: Drake's ascent to becoming one of the world's biggest rappers has been swift - however, previous album Take Care, despite being critically lauded and commercially successful, spawned multiple memes and jokes poking fun at the rapper's frank, emotional outpourings. With Nothing Was the Same, Drake clearly wanted to shut everyone up - and he did. From the swaggering, no nonsense opener of 'Tuscan Leather' to the confrontational 'Worst Behaviour', NWTS is displaying Drake at his toughest and most confident, and it's satisfyingly convincing. Pleasingly, the rapper's also still unafraid of a great hook - 'Hold On, We're Going Home' and 'The Motion' are excellent pop tracks.

  • 23. Jagwar Ma - Howlin: From the Beach Boys-esque 1960's peace and love of 'Come And Save Me' to the motorik psych robot punch of 'Four', Jagwar Ma's Howlin paints the walls with a wide and varied palette of pop. They've got the tight-knit syncopated pummel of The Longcut mixed with the cross-generational wild child spirit of The Vines and The Stone Roses' free and danceable baggy vibe - but mixed to form a sound that is entirely their own. By far one of the most accomplished debut albums of the year, we can't wait to see where they go next.

  • 22. Juveniles - Juveniles: No one makes electro pop as sexy as the French, and no one in 2013 made it sexier than Juveniles. This brilliant duo mixed decades of influences on their debut (70s disco, 80s synths, 90s house) to magical effect, and the album was a non-stop blast of pop perfection - all delivered with gloriously deadpan and heavily accented vocals. Singles 'Strangers' and 'Fantasy' are two of the year's biggest pop moments, while 'Washed Away' was a brief blast of perfect electronic melancholy.

  • 21. Ryan Hemsworth - Guilt Trips: This liquid trap album is an extremely laidback affair and a great debut for Canadian producer Hemsworth, showcasing a fresh style of production that is yet to be emulated by the mainstream.

  • 20. Kelela - Cut 4 Me: Cut 4 Me is technically a mixtape, but today it's an album, simply because it IS up there with the best of the year - and a few could even take a leaf or two out of its book. LA singer Kelela gathered some of the most exciting producers in the game - Kingdom, Girl Unit, Bok Bok - laid down her finest, Aaliyah-esque vocals, and made one of the finest R&B albums of the year. Kelela's melodic vocals somehow don't get lost behind the punchy, futuristic production - the two just merge together wonderfully. There's not a duff song on here. If this is what her mixtape is like, what does she have in store for her album?

  • 19. James Blake - Overgrown: With his self-titled debut, James Blake introduced himself as a producer. With Overgrown, he became an artist. Thanks to its win of this year's Mercury Prize, enough has been written about this album; its moody atmospherics, the multi-instrumentalization, Blake's inimitable vocals,but fundamentally it's an indescribably impressive showcasing of Blake's supermassive talent, which is undeniable.

  • 18. Cut Copy - Free Your Mind: The return of Cut Copy with Free Your Mind is like opening a window onto the overtly stale genres of indie and electronic music. The album fuses the two and creates a hugely varied tracklisting that acts as a love letter to the rave era with some seriously groovy beats that sound like they were cherry picked from a rose-tinted, and nostalgia-hazed view of the 90s era.

  • 17. Classixx - Hanging Gardens: This album is the embodiment of summer, comprised of a tracklist that screams sunshine through its bouncy electronic grooves and excellent production.

  • 16. Arcade Fire - Reflektor: Taking in all of the best elements of the band's celebrated back catalogue but lifted by a energetic rush of carnival life and vibrancy, Reflektor sees Arcade Fire's promise bloom as they're elevated to something truly special indeed: that once in a generation flash in the dark. A true art-rock extravaganza and disco inferno, Reflektor invites James Murphy and David Bowie along for the ride as Win Butler and co spit and dance in the face of pretentious to create an album that is not only epic, but essential.

  • 15. Kanye West - Yeezus: Yeezus was slated upon its release due to its unashamed, in your face inaccessibility and lack of obvious singles. However, those who gave up on it early sorely missed out on one of the most exciting, forward thinking albums of the year. From the searing opener 'On Sight' to the swaggering stomp of 'Blood On the Leaves', the production on Yeezus is flawless, and when coupled with Kanye's unforgettable lyricism it's a killer combination. Best embrace his bluster and bravado, because Kanye West isn't going anywhere.

  • 14. Nick Cave - Push The Sky Away: "Well, if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children," said Nick Cave when announcing the latest Bad Seeds' release, "then Push The Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator." After the raucous ruckus of Dig, Lazurus Dig!!! and the X-rated salaciousness of Grinderman, now Cave is turning his focus to weaving ambience and atmosphere. As the Bad Seeds map the mesmerising juxtaposition of the dream-like haze of Warren Ellis' instrumentation around the crisp punctuation of Cave's astonishing erudite narrative lyrics, all minute elements add up to no less than beautiful, embryonic simplicity. Choosing your favourite child is an impossible choice, but Push The Sky Away is the sick little Tiny Tim kid brother of the Bad Seeds' family that you can’t help but love.

  • 13. Biffy Clyro - Opposites: Proof that stadium rock in the 21st century doesn't have to sound like Coldplay, Biffy Clyro took a step onto the international stage in 2013 with this epic double album. An ambitious gamble - and one that paid off. The album, while lengthy, never felt like a bloated affair, mixing grinding rock anthems like 'Stinging Belle' and 'Black Chandelier' with lighters-aloft moments such as 'Opposite' and 'Biblical'. Aside from the festival-headlining opportunities the album offered the band, Opposites was a hugely accomplished and impressive album and one which deserved every success.

  • 12. David Bowie - The Next Day: Regardless of hype and a decade of anxiety, The Next Day is a brilliantly strange journey of wonderfully imaginative and excellently crafted songs from a rarest talent. The rarest in fact. The playfully defaced Heroes album cover says it all: the record is loaded with the sense of an artist looking back at a colourful life behind him, and instead of being weighed down or having to compete with his own legacy, carrying it with him to use all of his acquired artistry and experience to say something in a language that only Bowie can.

  • 11. Beyonce - Beyonce: The most surprising album of the year is also one of the best. Beyonce pulled possibly the biggest coup of her career with this unexpected drop of her fifth album, a compilation of excellent modern R&B songs. Beyonce is a truly accomplished piece of work which sees the singer taking risks with strong themes on feminism and sex, and it pays off beautifully. It truly cements her reputation as one of the greatest, and this is possibly her best work yet.

  • 10. Arctic Monkeys - AM: We weren't so sure about Alex Turner and co's fifth LP at first, (apparently we used the word 'coasting' in an early review) but after countless repeated listens it grew all over us like a really nasty rash. It became clear that it was not only of the best releases of the year, but the best of their career. With balls, bravado and a whole of rock n' roll swagger, AM sees Arctic Monkeys truly earning their role as Britain's Biggest Rock Band. Packed with wit, licks and true classics, this will be the record that marked the Monkeys as the first band to unify a generation since Nirvana or Oasis.

  • 9. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse: Despite fears from fans after Frightened Rabbit signed their first major record deal, the band's 2013 album did not disappoint, instead achieving the intention of opening the Scottish stars' sound to a much wider audience. Pedestrian Verse gained huge critical acclaim and was adored by fans and new listeners alike. From mellow moments such as 'The Woodpile' to rowdy crowd pleasers 'Holy' and 'Backyard Skulls', one man's misery has never sounded so brilliant and so beautiful. Scott Hutchinson can spin grief into gold.

  • 8. Bonobo - The North Borders: This album is Bonobo's masterpiece, effectively elevating the Ninja Tune veteran to a new level of musicianship. His incredible multi-instrumentalism and an ear for seminal vocal talent is set in stone by this great record.

  • 7. Queens Of The Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork: Certainly the best QOTSA record since Songs for the Deaf, ...Like Clockwork is a different beast entirely to its predecessors – but it’s still one hell of a beast. Making the album was a process that nearly killed Josh Homme. He came back after being declared legally dead on the operating table during surgery, then followed a long, tumultuous nerve-shredding process to record the album - their first. A dark, layered and intense listening experience, the record is proof alone that often the best music is born of pain and patience - the result is sheer unadulterated pleasure.

  • 6. Toro Y Moi - Anything in Return: Perhaps the most unique album on this list, Toro Y Moi is weird weird weird. But there is something in his sound that hits home with huge amounts of warmth hidden in the production. This is a soundscape with the colour and gamma turned all the way up.

  • 5. The 1975 - The 1975: The hardest working new band of 2013, and with an album this good, why wouldn't you put in the elbow grease? Aside from the obvious hooks of radio-friendly hits such as 'Chocolate' and 'The City', The 1975's debut album was packed with stunning indie/pop gems from the subtle ('M.O.N.E.Y') to the stadium-ready ('Robbers'). The band scored huge success this year, and deservedly so.

  • 4. Disclosure - Settle: Dance duo Disclosure very much delivered with their debut, every track wonderfully showcasing their irresistible brand of house/pop/garage. UK pop was becoming a turgid bore until Disclosure came along with a killer, dizzying combination of immersive production, great hooks and excellent vocalists that still maintained its credibility. Settle is refreshingly unpretentious - it's just an great record that refuses to let up throughout. It's difficult to think of another album that did so much for UK music in 2013.

  • 3. The National - Trouble Will Find Me: Continuing a relentless run of consistently brilliant LP after brilliant LP, Trouble Will Find Me firmly cements The National's status as one of the greatest American bands of our generation in the process.This is not an album for the iTunes generation, but a masterpiece for all of the right reasons - it's just two sides of layer upon layer of joyful noise. Long may the hyperbole continue: God Bless The National.

  • 2. Flume - Flume: While everyone was talking about the arrival of Disclosure and Rudimental this year, as far as we're concerned, the British stars were beaten to the top by Australian youngster, Harley Streten. Flume's debut album was an innovative and impressive collection of unique and distinctive electronica, mixing hip-hop influences with epic electronic beats. Leaping from laid back to pounding beats in an instant, tracks such as 'On Top', 'Insane' and 'Holding On' blew the roof off his live nights and festival shows. An essential electronic masterpiece.

  • 1. Chvrches - The Bones Of What you Believe: A perfect pop album. Chvrches' debut, released a year after they were little more than a bloggers' buzzword, turned hype into reality with ease - and delivered the best album of 2013. Despite the electronic production on The Bones Of What You Believe, there was as much attitude on the record as was to be found on any guitar band's 2013 release, and frontwoman Lauren Mayberry hid venom and true grit behind her sugar-sweet vocals. The band not only found success with the album, but made a huge impact on the festival scene and even scored single success with 'The Mother We Share' - one of the undeniable highlights of the record. Chvrches broke down genre boundaries with The Bones Of what You Believe but the album's real strength came from the band's songwriting skills, their DIY ethic and the raw nature of their hugely danceable hits. In just 12 months, Chvrches have established themselves not only as one of the country's best new bands, but also one of the biggest. Now here's a religion we'll buy into.