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

4

Paul McCartney, 'New'

Courtesy of Hear Music

The sound of a 71-year-old Beatle getting back in the ring. McCartney plays to his strengths: Wings-like glam rock, Little Richard howls and, yep, some remarkably Beatlesque pop tunes and George Martin-ish arrangements (thanks partly to Martin's son, Giles, who produced several tracks). "Early Days" challenges lingering misconceptions about McCartney's role in the Beatles ("I don't see how they can remember/When they weren't where it was at"). Sir Paul also engages 21st-century pop with sharp ears, bringing in young-gun producers like Paul Epworth, Mark Ronson and Ethan Johns. He even rocks a quasi-rap flow and some giddy, Gaga-style stadium chants on "Queenie Eye." As Macca understands better than almost anyone, rock & roll is fueled by a hunger for good times and an ageless exuberance.

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