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20 Best Debuts of 2013

From the precocious Lorde to the impish Fidlar, these are the rookies of the year

The past 12 months exploded with exciting new artists, both on the charts and throughout underground – from A$AP Ferg's trippy trap music to Brandy Clark's bullshit-calling country to Lorde's world-weary teen-rap to Parquet Courts' neo-Nineties indie rock, from hip-hop to EDM to country. Here are the 20 best debut albums from a year teeming with them. BY JON DOLAN

Lorde

Courtesy Universal Music Group

1

Lorde, ‘Pure Heroine’

"We don't care/We aren't caught up in your love affair," declares 17-year-old New Zealand pop savant Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor on her hit "Royals," a bitch-slap to status-driven music culture on behalf of every cash-strapped kid (and grown-up) exhausted by it. Lorde's debut album ended up ruling the pop charts anyway, thanks to a sultry, swaggering, hip-hop-savvy, fully grown voice and stark synth jams as earworm-y as Miley's or Katy's splashiest hits. Set against the music's minimal throb, Lorde's languidly aphoristic lyrics balance rock-star swagger and torqued-up teenage angst, so lines like "We're hollow like the bottles that we drain" or "We're so happy, even when we're smiling out of fear" have a rattle-nerve pathos and power like nothing else going in 2013.

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