Top 10 International albums of 2013
the electric lady
The scale, ambition and sheer chutzpah of the Kansas lady's second album makes for 2013's most absorbing effort.
Monae is comfortable with multiple genres but really hits her stride in the funk-oriented tracks. Prince can't get enough of her, apparently, and neither should you -- this is a marvellous, guest-heavy collection.
random access memories
Hyped to ludicrous levels before release, the French duo's return could have been a huge let-down, but it was nothing of the sort.
Think one brilliant tune after the next and some inspired collaborations from Nile Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder and Julian Casablancas.
trouble will find me
Not as immediate as the band's previous offerings, this sixth album was the slow-burner of the year as Matt Berninger and friends look deep into their hearts on songs that will endure.
the next day
The manner of its release was much talked about, but what a wonderful album Bowie returned with.
A fabulously eclectic offering, it harks back to many stages of the great man's career including that very fruitful period in Berlin in the late 1970s.
The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
pale green ghosts
Confessional songwriting par excellence, the ex-Czars man lays bare several demons on an album that confirms him to be among the best tunesmiths of his generation. He's an astonishing live presence too.
Pale Green Ghosts
The Brooklyn-based newcomers fuse neo-classical music with chamber pop in stunning fashion. This is sophisticated, life-affirming music not a million miles away from Arcade Fire a decade ago. Why haven't more people heard the name?
Forget the Kim Kardashian soap opera and the spats with everyone he encounters, West is still the doyen of hip-hop. Yeezus is vauntingly ambitious and he packs so many ideas into some of these songs.
loud city song
An experimental, avant-garde album inspired by the 1950s musical, Gigi, might sound like a lot of hard work but this is an absorbing, rewarding collection that reinforces Holter's burgeoning reputation as a songwriter who takes the road less travelled.
It may be an over-long double album that could have done with a good edit, but there's still so much to love on Arcade Fire's fourth. Their reinvention with the assistance of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy is that of a band keen to leave their comfort zone.
modern vampires of the city
Hyper-literate songs and some of the most arresting guitar lines you'll hear all year, the New Yorkers just keep getting better and better. So much for those who initially dismissed Ezra Koenig's band.
The Bones of What You Believe