Best albums of 2013: 20-11

The countdown continues! How are you feeling? Nervous? Terrified? A bit uninterested but willing to peek in case an album you hate made it into our list so you can tweet about it? Here's the next batch of names

See our countdown from 40-31 here
And from 30-21 here

20 David Bowie – The Next Day

What we said: "Despite the lyrical density, The Next Day's success rests on simple pleasures, not a phrase you'd ever use to describe Lodger or Station to Station. You could argue that means the naysayers still have a point. For all the pointers it offers in that direction, The Next Day isn't the equal of Bowie's 70s work: but then, the man himself might reasonably argue, what is? Perhaps it's destined to be remembered more for the unexpected manner in which it was announced than its contents. That doesn't seem a fair fate for an album that's thought-provoking, strange and filled with great songs."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch David Bowie's The Next Day

19 Arctic Monkeys – AM

What we said: "This fifth album manages to connect the muscular riffs of Humbug and the wistful pop of Suck It and See with the bristling energy and sense of fun that propelled their initial recordings. Developments include a focus on falsetto (courtesy of drummer Matt Helders and bassist Nick O'Malley), a feather-light touch of the Velvet Underground (Mad Sounds), and a sexual frisson Jarvis would trade his sauciest wink for. Indeed, Turner's revelation that he's "constantly on the cusp" during Do I Wanna Know? could be enough to warrant a Parental Advisory sticker all on its own."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? by Arctic Monkeys

18 These New Puritans – Fields of Reeds

What we said: "You might hear Field of Reeds as a collection of experimental rock songs, or as a suite of contemporary classical compositions. In truth, it moves fluidly between the two, as solid rhythms splinter and abstract arrangements coalesce and crescendo. The Way I Do layers lullaby piano with austere wind instruments and an alien female voice at once distant and present, icy and warm; Dream opens with the same voice (Elisa Rodrigues) alone, girlish and clear, then invites each instrument to soar above its melody. Every note is recorded with such painstaking attention to resonance that even the musicians' breathing feels integral."

17 Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle

What we said: "It doesn't maintain its opening's level of intensity for the remainder of its 63 minutes but the album becomes more fleshed-out, the atmosphere more nocturnal and becalmed, and when the riff from the opening tracks returns on the closer, Saved These Words, Marling appears to be strumming her guitar rather than thrashing wildly at it as a prelude to smashing it over the guy from Mumford & Sons' head. But the quality of the songs remains almost unerringly high: the guitar on When Were You Happy? grumbles instead of raging, but the tune is lovely; Undine is a convincing stab at parched alt-country; Once deals in a pretty exquisite brand of melancholy."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Laura Marling's Master Hunter

16 Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park

What we said: "At her core, she's a country traditionalist … [her] songs are populated by characters as old as country music itself: the trash-talking waitress of Blowin' Smoke, the substance-addicted family whose plight she treats sympathetically on Merry Go Round … Musgraves's rural heart is tempered with an outsiderish scepticism, and her real work is urging people to think for themselves."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Blowin' Smoke by Kacey Musgraves

15 Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

What we said: "Like Jay Z, Earl can sound like he's pulling a word between his jaws, lazily stretching it out like toffee. Or, in his own words he's got 'diction buttery'. Earl's (reportedly absent) father is Keorapetse Kgositsile, one of South Africa's most famous poets, and, to use Earl's phrase, 'daddy issues' and hype ambivalence often come together: 'I'm afraid I'm going to blow it/ And when them expectations raising because Daddy was a poet, right?' But he doesn't blow it. The only thing, in fact, that blows is that Earl, in his self-effacement and dutiful heeding of hip-hop protocol, gives so many verses to other people. All the best tracks are just him."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Earl Sweatshirt's Chum

14 Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

What we said: "He raps about the realities of [Chicago's] violent South Side (there have been more than 200 homicides so far this year) without glorifying it and, at the same time, manages to not wander into Lupe Fiasco holier-than-thou territory, which is where most conscious hip-hop has been hanging around waiting to slowly die for the best part of the last decade. On his Acid Rap mix tape, which was downloaded 50,000 times the day it was released, Chance reveals himself to be more interested in the mind-expanding qualities of LSD than poppin' molly or swilling Grey Goose. When it comes to girls, he isn't scared to extol the joys of – wait for it – falling in love over the allure of the strip club."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Everybody's Something by Chance the Rapper

13 Lorde – Pure Heroine

What we said: "The quintessential old soul in a young body, 16-year-old Ella 'Lorde' Yelich-O'Connor is also a new pop archetype. On the one hand, she writes lyrics that identify her as a sensitive, wordy teenager: bursts of poetry are interwoven with moody observations about her friends. On the other hand, there's a cool detachment here that's anything but youthful. Joel Little's minimal, xx-influenced production allows her torchy ennui to dominate every song, drenching everything in heavy-lidded disillusionment. Royals, her multi-platinum single, packs more finger-clicking disenchantment into three minutes than Lana del Rey managed in an entire album."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Royals by Lorde

12 Haim – Days Are Gone

What we said: "Anyone old enough to recall the mid-80s will either find Days Are Gone's sound charmingly nostalgic or an unconscionable reminder of an era of sleeveless, bemulletted horror best left forgotten; but what seems beyond debate is that Haim's songwriting has a certain kind of glossily depthless pop perfection down pat. It takes bullish confidence to open your debut album with three acclaimed singles – if it subsequently tails off, you're going to look like you have nothing more to offer – but Haim's confidence isn't misplaced. The quality doesn't dip. The choruses always click. Almost everything here sounds like a potential hit."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Haim's Forever

11 The National – Trouble Will Find Me

What we said: "Their method varies song by song: in I Should Live in Salt, it's with an undertow of intricate details, stuttering rhythms and winding woodwind; in Fireproof, it's with melodies and percussion that refuse to align; in Don't Swallow the Cup, it's with unexpected shifts in the song's structure. 'I was a television version of a person with a broken heart,' Matt Berninger notes mordantly in Pink Rabbits, voice all whiskey burr and molten honey, while the piano outdoes itself in sentimentality. It's the subtlety, and the self-awareness, that make this album exquisite."

Reading on mobile? Click here to watch Graceless by the National

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