I have better things to do on a Saturday night than to watch a mediocre-at-best, sketch comedy show – thus, a YouTube search of Arcade Fire’s performance of “Afterlife” came on a Monday afternoon. In the same vein as the clichéd “love at first sight” ideal, I had the kind of moment where you stop and try to revel in the glow of the first listen to that perfect song. It’s a moment that usually slips by unnoticed, a feeling that’s completely removed of the on-repeat, know every word love that you fall into months down the tracks – the affection of a head over heels crush that has you going on about Régine Chassagne’s vocal production to everyone you know. Instead, it’s a gradual realization, an almost an out-of-body, objective respect that let’s you know this song will show up on at least a couple of your car mix-CDs.

It’s great to have that cold, logical perspective turn into the heart-rate elevating reflex when the rustling of strings gives way to the congo-driven, percussive backbeat – when you just can’t wait for Win Butler’s cock-sure vocals to enter, shuddering with disgust at something that’s always subconsciously looming. With each listen, you’re stepping onto the same rollercoaster that enters so coldly with Régine’s distant cooing and muted synths, transitions into Butler’s frantic neuroticism and withers in the “dead lights of the afterglow.” But it’s a rollercoaster that lacks a satisfying drop, relying on measured revolutions of the song structure to subtly bring it up to the frenzied death-throes that don’t feel like an ending, but an invitation to keep hoping this isn’t the last verse.

– Will Guerin

Some other favorites from 2013 (in no order):

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – A Haunting – The Speed of Things

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Despair – Mosquito

Vampire Weekend – Hannah Hunt – Modern Vampires of the City

Parquet Courts – Master of My Craft / Borrowed Time – Light Up Gold

Majical Cloudz – Impersonator – Impersonator

Kanye West – On Sight – Yeezus

The Dodos – Stranger – Carrier

Bleeding Rainbow – Go Ahead

Torres – Honey – Torres

No Age – C’mon, Stimmung – An Object

MGMT – Your Life Is A Lie – MGMT

Laura Marling – I Was An Eagle – Once I Was An Eagle

Parquet Courts – Stoned and Starving – Light Up Gold

Tim Hecker – Live Room/Live Room Out – Virgins

Grouper – Vital – The Man Who Died On His Boat