50 Best Albums of 2013

Vampire Weekend cut the cute and raised the stakes, Kanye assaulted our ears, Bowie shocked the world and Miley tossed a dance-pop party grenade

9

Arctic Monkeys, 'AM'

Courtesy of Domino

On its fifth album, this quintessentially British band moved to L.A., took inspiration from old Aaliyah hits and glam Bowie, and made a spiky, slinky beast of a record, perfect for that moment in the evening when you just realized that maybe that seventh drunk text you sent to your ex-girlfriend wasn't such a hot idea. The album was reportedly inspired by Alex Turner's breakup with model and TV host Alexa Chung, and songs like "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High" and the achingly slow "Do I Wanna Know" are full of slow-simmering heartache. The careening "chip-shop rock & roll" (as Turner called it) of previous records was replaced by a creeping desert-rock paranoia. And the frayed party's-over lullaby "Mad Sounds" might've been the sweetest Velvet Underground echo of Lou Reed's final year.

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