Top Albums of 2013: # 9, 8, 7

pet shop boys electric

9. Pet Shop Boys, ELECTRIC

Oh, those Pet Shop Boys: a mere year after their worst album (Elysium) comes one of their best—possibly their best since Very (granted, I’ve made this claim before). The flipside to Elysium’s reflective, milquetoast calm, Electric is an all-out banger, their most (non-remix album) dance-oriented effort since Introspective. For two men on the cusp of 60, Neil and Chris sound as alive and inspired as they ever have: “Love Is A Bourgeois Construct” melds quasi-classical interpolations with that ever-dry PSB wit, while “Thursday” is so strong a single you begin to think that maybe, just maybe it could reestablish them in America as the pop stars they briefly were for a heady spell in the 1980s.

Best tracks: “Fluorescent”, “Love Is A Bourgeois Construct”, “Thursday”

Video for “Thursday”:

HAIM-DAYS-ARE-GONE

8. Haim, DAYS ARE GONE

When first hearing their ‘80s-friendly pop on satellite radio a year ago, I thought the name was in tribute to that era’s teen idol Corey; turns out that it’s the surname of the band members who are also sisters, which should be no surprise given their close harmonies and their sense of musical interconnectedness. The year’s most accomplished debut, it plays like a collection of singles, from instant-gratification opener “Falling” to the swaggering, glam-tastic “The Wire” to “If I Could Change Your Mind” and “Don’t Save Me”, both as pert and tart as prime Christine McVie. The lyrics aren’t anything to write home about, but you’ll be humming along (or singing out loudly) too much to really care.

Best tracks: “Don’t Save Me”, “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “The Wire”

Video for “Don’t Save Me”:

Alison-Moyet-the-minutes

7. Alison Moyet, THE MINUTES

Moyet’s best album since Hometime, and that’s all you really need to know, except that it’s also her most heavily electronic effort since Yaz’s You and Me Both from thirty years ago. However, nothing here feels like a throwback except for the very Yaz-like “Filigree” and it’s a good enough song that the considerably peppier “West Coast” mix version at the end is an album highlight. As ever, Moyet can still sing rings around divas half her age; in 2013, it’s nothing less than a thrill to hear that voice enliven and command such tricky settings as the push-and-pull clang of “Changeling” or the exuberant electropop of “Love Reign Supreme”.

Best tracks: “Filigree (West Coast Mix)”, “Love Reign Supreme”, “Right As Rain”

Video for “Filigree (West Coast Mix)”:

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