Lorde’s 2013 tour, photo by Taylor Stout
In 10 Years’ Time
It’s one thing to line up the best albums of a given year, but to name the most “formative” is something more personal and elusive.
By the Music Team
Looking back on 2013’s album releases from our 2023 vantage point, we described many of them as formative. Part of this is our age—we were young and impressionable when the world first heard these songs. Maybe no music shapes you like your teenage self’s favorite album, but we’re not finished growing up.
As we reflect on some of our favorite releases turning 10 this year, we look ahead and predict what current releases we’ll still be listening to 10 years down the line.
We encase memories in sound. What songs, when we hear their opening notes years later, will remind us to tell the stories we’re living now?
2013 me would’ve told you my favorite album was AM by Arctic Monkeys. It was the first time I really had a “favorite album.” But looking back, the album that shaped me the most from that year is Lorde’s Pure Heroine. Both albums came out in September 2013—the first full month of my freshman year of high school. Pure Heroine was one of the first times I saw teen-girl thoughts take center stage and receive wide acclaim (I felt my own teen-girl thoughts were so seldom listened to, which I assume is the common experience). I didn’t realize the significance of this then; it was a lack I couldn’t really name till years later. When I listen to AM now, it just sounds like an album, albeit one I enjoy. When I listen to Pure Heroine, it sounds like a foundation of what I’d chase and become over the next 10 years.
Now I’m in my early twenties, living in NYC. It’s hard to say how I’ll look back on this time, but I think I’ll remember the freedom I have, which I often take for granted as uncertainty but also really love. It feels sacred to laugh about stupid shit with my friends at 1 AM. In terms of music, I had a moment with “I Love You” by Fontaines D.C. around New Years. My friend was driving me home late at night in the rain across LA and that song played. I then had it on repeat in the first days of 2023. It’s a vivid memory I’ll hold of this recent transitional period—one when I finally felt confident in my own boundaries, desires, and perspectives. Something about the intensity of “I Love You” resonated with that newfound conviction. These fleeting moments feel so special, and I know better now what I want to stand by. That said, I’m evidently not over rock-and-roll guys and I probably won’t be at 30 either. I’ll probably also still love “Ribs” by Lorde. When I hear, “I want ‘em back, the minds we had,” I wonder if I’ll think of myself at 23, conversing ecstatically and being moved by music in my friend’s car.
|2013 Lily loved a lot of albums and just about all of them had black and white cover art (The Neighbourhood’s I Love You, Lorde’s Pure Heroine, Arctic Monkeys’ AM, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, to name a few), but the one I have returned to on a seasonal basis is undoubtedly The 1975’s self-titled debut record. With a deluxe version that clocks in at two hours and 30 minutes (which I think holds the true gems of the album as opposed to the regular first release!!), it was chock-full of lyrics and aesthetics that quickly became core parts of who I wanted to be. So much so that I started an Etsy business embroidering their lyrics onto cheap t-shirts from Michael’s (the most popular seller was the iconic, “babe, you look so cool”). I find myself returning to this album every few months, playing it front to back and loving every second.
Last week, I listened to Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR for the first time in over a year, probably. In between thoughts of, “Wait, this is so good,” and, “I forgot how great this song is,” I couldn’t help but get a feeling of overwhelming nostalgia. I’ll never forget the shock through my system when I played “brutal” for the first time or saw that every song on the record occupied the top 20 worldwide tracks on Spotify for a period of time. It was all my friends and I talked about for days. It felt like an instant classic, and I think we’ll still be talking in 10 years about the album that shot Olivia Rodrigo out of a cannon and into pop stardom.
|Lorde’s Pure Heroine single-handedly defined my coming of age years. When you’re 15, you feel as if the world is against you, and in response to this earnest sentiment, I clutched onto Lorde’s debut album for dear life because it felt warm and familiar and honest in the face of everything I was feeling for the first time. Looking back, it feels silly to think that I worked so hard to isolate myself from everyone; these songs made a collective impact on our generation for a reason. Then again, I only knew what I knew at 15, and I love meeting others in my 20s who loved this album as much as I did for the same reasons.
I still feel all the same things I did when I was 15, but I also feel more grounded and self-assured in what I know and don’t know. I find myself tapping into this stillness when listening to Alex G’s discography especially. 10 years from now, I think I’ll still be blasting “Runner” between errands and ruminating on the “couple bad things” I’ve done, hoping and praying and believing there’s still forgiveness waiting for me at the end of the day.
|2013 Cath was a die-hard CHVRCHES fan. It was the year I went to live in London and also the year of their first album, The Bones of What You Believe. If I could pump that album through my bloodstream every second, I would—it was ALWAYS in my ears, and I equate a lot of my memories abroad with it. I still turn it on—along with plenty of their recent songs—and feel that surge of emotions when I hear Lauren Mayberry’s vocals coupled with the group's punchy synths.
I’ve been meditating hard on what music I’ll tie to this year and the memories here. More recently, I’ve dove head first into Fred Again.. and his incredible song drops that feed a dopamine kick. Similarly to CHVRCHES, his work brings me to a place of total bliss and full-body movement. I also hate to say it… but maybe Yung Lean? I will never forget just binging him recently on a family vacation. “I’m a lonely cloud”—like what kind of poetry is this?
|Miley Cyrus’s Bangerz is full of anger and drama and heartbreak (something I had not experienced by 2013), and I was obsessed with it. The first song on the album, “Adore You,” fueled perfect high-school longing. “Drive” equally made me want to get my driver’s license and a divorce. Maybe I loved it because it allowed me to feel both foolishly young (as I was) and maturely experienced (as I wanted to be).
As I am writing this I am realizing I will be listening to Florence + the Machine’s Dance Fever for the same reason I still listen to Bangerz; they’re danceable albums full of female rage. I wonder if in 10 years I will be finding a new album to remind me that I am allowed to be upset.
The other day, my friend Regina came over to hang out and paint, and I was playing some music when she arrived. I asked what she wanted to listen to and she requested one song: “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities. I turned up my roommates' bougie portable speaker and we had a moment like many we’ve had over the years, accessing this buried place within us like we’re drilling for oil, moving past everything else and getting to that warm rush. It’s a song she knows that I love like she loves; we laughed and marveled at the ridiculous yet wonderful peaks and valleys this music contains.
If the last couple of years are any indication, I will still be returning to “Hard Drive” by Cassandra Jenkins in 10 years. I loved the music when I first heard it at Pitchfork in 2021, but it has blossomed over the last two years into something I rely on and have formed a symbiotic relationship with. When I was reviewing my top songs of 2022 playlist with my friend Fig, they remarked, “Hate to break it to you, but ‘Hard Drive’ came out in 2021,” not realizing that it was my third-most-listened-to song from the year and not just my own personal ratings. Girls when the mind is just a hard drive.
2013 was the year I started to recognize current music. For a long time, I was obsessed with classic rock and basically anyone who had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was a weird thing to listen to among people my age at the time. It made me feel like an outcast, but because of a camp I went to in Canada as well as the internet, I began to branch out into basically what was on the top of the Billboard charts. DJ Earworm was a big thing for me back then, so it was an exposure to only the biggest hits. It’s not really too much music I listen to now, but songs like “Don’t You Worry Child” and “Mirrors” are still certified to get me in the feels of past youth. Yeesh, what an era. Oh also, being late to discovering Kendrick Lamar in the back of my friend’s mom’s van on WBLK Radio changed how I saw hip hop and pulled me into an obsession I’m still attached to. That would develop more in the following years, but as for 2013, it was a big pop era and the beginning of the end of the industry model of pop still being quality while also completely commercial—or maybe I’m just sounding old.
I hope I’m not still having Black Country, New Road on repeat every day in 10 years. Perhaps my mental health will be better and I can move past that damn band, but only time will tell. Other than that, music that will remind me of this time will probably be the darker, dreary stuff that has come out post-pandemic. The best stuff for me these days is what I can dance to that still has a doom and gloom. I’ve been rediscovering The Replacements recently, so that’ll probably remind of this time. Hope I can go to a swingin’ party soon.