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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was more of the same for me in 2013: girls singing over electro-pop, dudes singing over guitars. With little crossover, that’s how 2013 — and most of my life — has shaped up. The year was dominated by the return of Suede, and Bloodsports could have a few entries on this list alone. But in taking my favorite track off that to rep the list, it allowed me to open up my heart for some true loves: Charli XCX, Lorde, and everything with a beat that comes out of Sweden. No, this list isn’t from a 13-year-old girl. But it’s close.
Tegan & Sara’s inevitable foray into electro pop was met with mixed results, but they burst out of the Heartthrob gates with the furiously adorable “Closer.” Taking their folk-rooted pop hooks and shouting them over the beats once designated to remixes, “Closer” is a triumphant single that’s as anthemic as their past work. It’s still Tegan & Sara with all the usual heart ache, but for a different part of the day.
We don’t care if its lazy to compare Jehnny Beth to Siouxsie Sioux, we don’t care about throwing the post punk label on this all-female London band. There’s nothing lazy or indifferent about Savages guitar-ripper punk rock, and while the hush-scream “Husbands” was a 2012 single, it cemented debut LP Silence Yourself as one of the best records of 2013, and opened a Pandora’s box of raw sonic aggression.
Swedish underdogs with massive breakout potential in the New Year, Stockholm’s Kate Boy fires flare guns in a hall of electronic pop mirrors. “Northern Lights” is a more mainstream Knife that’s also more insidious than Robyn would dare to be, and the perfect black-light counterpoint to their native homeland’s crop of neon-sound producers.
The Scottish trio’s The Bones Of What You Believe might be one of the more agreed-upon records of 2013, so much so that we’ve all overlooked the silly V in their moniker. Re-issued single “The Mother We Share” — with a nod to the more menacing “Lies” — is the cream of that synthpop crop; a soaring, feel-good anthem for the modern dystopia.