Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums of 2015

Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums of 2015

Original Source

50. Dawn Richard - Blackheart

Dawn Richard - Blackheart
January 15, 2015
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
81
6 reviews
User Score
75
75 reviews

Blackheart takes it down a peg from the mythology of Goldenheart into a more introspective, earthy realm—that it's wrapped up in inventive production that feels about five years ahead of mainstream radio is just icing on the cake.

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49. Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass

Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass
January 27, 2015
Chamber Pop
Critic Score
83
18 reviews
User Score
79
319 reviews
She sounds comfortable and in charge, wielding her massive band like a wizard’s scepter.
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48. Shamir - Ratchet

Shamir - Ratchet
May 19, 2015
Electropop
Critic Score
78
21 reviews
User Score
75
201 reviews

On Ratchet, an honest, earnest pop record, Shamir elaborates on the gutsy melodies of those early demos and singles and makes good on the hype.

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47. DJ Koze - DJ-Kicks

DJ Koze - DJ-Kicks
June 15, 2015
Downtempo
Critic Score
79
5 reviews
User Score
78
20 reviews

46. Tobias Jesso Jr. - Goon

Tobias Jesso Jr. - Goon
March 17, 2015
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
78
19 reviews
User Score
78
271 reviews

Jesso has a knack for writing songs that you feel like you’ve heard before, even if you can’t quite pin down a precise antecedent. Which is another way of saying he writes songs that sound "classic" in the best sense of the word.

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45. Jim O'Rourke - Simple Songs

Jim O'Rourke - Simple Songs
May 19, 2015
Chamber Pop
Critic Score
83
8 reviews
User Score
78
107 reviews

O’Rourke is always clever and funny, but the driving force in his music is the art of the arrangement. Many of the greatest pleasures on Simple Songs come from how certain instruments are layered together, how the chords are voiced and the harmonic progressions unfold.

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44. Jazmine Sullivan - Reality Show

Jazmine Sullivan - Reality Show
January 13, 2015
R&B
Critic Score
81
8 reviews
User Score
73
74 reviews

Sullivan, better than singers and songwriters in almost any genre, creates worlds where relationships take on more complex dynamics, but are immediate in their effect.

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43. Destroyer - Poison Season

Destroyer - Poison Season
August 28, 2015
Chamber Pop
Critic Score
82
25 reviews
User Score
81
283 reviews

He has never made, and will probably never make, a bad album—he's far too accomplished, intuitive, and literate for that. But on Poison Season, you can occasionally detect the dismaying sound of indie rock's greatest intellect second-guessing itself.

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42. Jenny Hval - Apocalypse, girl

Jenny Hval - Apocalypse, girl
June 9, 2015
Art Pop
Critic Score
80
18 reviews
User Score
75
140 reviews
Like all of her best work, it finds new ways to provoke, and new parts of your brain to light up.
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41. Jeremih - Late Nights: The Album

Jeremih - Late Nights: The Album
December 4, 2015
R&B
Critic Score
78
8 reviews
User Score
74
59 reviews

Late Nights, in its subtle seduction, feels all the more special in an era that increasingly rewards artists who shout the loudest. Jeremih makes you shut everything else out so that you can hear him whisper in your ear. It was worth the wait.

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40. Jlin - Dark Energy

Jlin - Dark Energy
March 24, 2015
Footwork
Critic Score
84
5 reviews
User Score
72
88 reviews

Throw it onto the list of recent albums, like Heems’ Eat Pray Thug and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, that take personal, political and temporal stock of our lives and refuse to be one-dimensional in chronicling these experiences.

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39. Holly Herndon - Platform

Holly Herndon - Platform
May 19, 2015
Art Pop
Critic Score
80
21 reviews
User Score
76
165 reviews

Despite the wide scope of her project, Herndon’s ambitious efforts are appealingly multifaceted and personal, and Platform may turn out to be the most thought-provoking experimental electronic music release of the year.

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38. Arca - Mutant

Arca - Mutant
November 20, 2015
Electronic
Critic Score
80
17 reviews
User Score
77
149 reviews

Mutant is an album of contrasts, and Ghersi has an uncanny ability to let extremes interact with each other to create something new.

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37. Empress Of - Me

Empress Of - Me
September 11, 2015
Electropop
Critic Score
80
10 reviews
User Score
78
143 reviews

What makes the first proper album from Empress Of so impressive is that it's not just Rodriguez's most outwardly pop-focused work to date, but also her most restlessly experimental and ... lyrically raw.   

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36. Janet Jackson - Unbreakable

Janet Jackson - Unbreakable
October 2, 2015
R&B
Critic Score
75
15 reviews
User Score
75
74 reviews

Unbreakable is a synthesis of ideas Jackson’s collected and tested throughout her career.

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35. Neon Indian - VEGA INTL. Night School

Neon Indian - VEGA INTL. Night School
October 16, 2015
Chillwave
Critic Score
79
15 reviews
User Score
79
235 reviews

The production values are higher, and there’s even more of Palomo's queasy pitch-shifting, 16-bit synths, and disembodied samples—more of everything. Palomo might have seemed like someone stumbling onto a recipe with Psychic Chasms, but now it's clear that this is Palomo’s foundational music, his blues or funk.

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34. Carly Rae Jepsen - E•MO•TION

Carly Rae Jepsen - E•MO•TION
August 21, 2015
Dance Pop
Critic Score
76
20 reviews
User Score
79
310 reviews

For all its ironclad hooks and studio precision, Jepsen's third album, like her second, lacks the personality of the most memorable pop records.

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33. Archy Marshall - A New Place 2 Drown

Archy Marshall - A New Place 2 Drown
December 10, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
76
9 reviews
User Score
74
81 reviews

His sound is more three-dimensional, a series of shrouded corners and murmured conversations. This is wandering, grey-skies music, finding pleasure and even sensuality in solitude.

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32. Dr. Dre - Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre - Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre
August 7, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
80
25 reviews
User Score
75
194 reviews

On his previous classics he showed us that new things were possible, a magic that's available only so many times in one life. Compton doesn't have the same breathtaking power, but it's excellent nonetheless, and more complicated and jarring than we could have known to hope for.

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31. Kelela - Hallucinogen EP

Kelela - Hallucinogen EP
October 9, 2015
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
79
8 reviews
User Score
77
113 reviews

Her new EP, Hallucinogen, uses the gristle and guts of feeling as a thematic base for exploring new textures in music.

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30. Deerhunter - Fading Frontier

Deerhunter - Fading Frontier
October 16, 2015
Indie Rock
Critic Score
82
30 reviews
User Score
80
303 reviews

While Deerhunter's created a number of indelible songs over their career, Fading Frontier may have their first that could conceivably blend into real-deal classic rock radio.

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29. Rae Sremmurd - SremmLife

Rae Sremmurd - SremmLife
January 6, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
75
12 reviews
User Score
61
134 reviews

Though a few songs stretch out an interesting idea too far, SremmLife is a showcase of an electric new talent paired with all the trappings of a bigtime major label debut.

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28. Beach House - Depression Cherry

Beach House - Depression Cherry
August 28, 2015
Dream Pop
Critic Score
79
29 reviews
User Score
80
471 reviews
With every album, someone observes—rightly—that the band has never sounded exactly this full and soaring before.
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27. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love

Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love
January 20, 2015
Indie Rock
Critic Score
89
29 reviews
User Score
78
476 reviews

Catchy as all-clashing hell, it's Sleater-Kinney's most front-to-back accessible album, amping their omnipresent love of new wave pop with aerodynamic choruses that reel and reel, enormously shouted and gasped and sung with a dead-cool drawl.

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26. Deafheaven - New Bermuda

Deafheaven - New Bermuda
October 2, 2015
Atmospheric Black Metal
Critic Score
82
15 reviews
User Score
81
229 reviews

At a moment when guitar-centric music feels less central to the conversation, and great indie-rock bands have retreated into hardy local scenes, Deafheaven play like a beautiful, abstracted dream of guitar music's transportive power.

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25. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside

Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
March 23, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
77
22 reviews
User Score
77
273 reviews

With nothing to prove and no longer an upstart, Earl sounds, more than ever, simply like himself.

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24. Thundercat - The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam

Thundercat - The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam
June 22, 2015
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
79
9 reviews
User Score
76
91 reviews

23. Kurt Vile - b'lieve i'm goin down

Kurt Vile - b'lieve i'm goin down
September 25, 2015
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
78
24 reviews
User Score
78
249 reviews
That he’s hitting his peak as an artist at a time when rock music of the type he practices is falling out of favor and is becoming just another genre instead of the center of the musical universe only adds to his appeal; this is not an artist concerned with being in step.
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22. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
January 13, 2015
Psychedelic Pop
Critic Score
81
29 reviews
User Score
78
406 reviews

More streamlined than Person Pitch and more rhythmically robust than Tomboy, Grim Reaper is Panda Bear’s toughest, grimiest, and funkiest album to date.

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21. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment - Surf

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment - Surf
May 29, 2015
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
83
15 reviews
User Score
77
243 reviews

It's a new sound built on lots of older ones—indie, hip-hop, funk, rock, gospel, various strains of R&B, The Lion King soundtrack—and despite bringing on a large cast and letting each person play their part, the guests all exist on the Social Experiment's terrain.

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20. Floating Points - Elaenia

Floating Points - Elaenia
November 6, 2015
Electronic
Critic Score
83
17 reviews
User Score
79
136 reviews
It is as warm and fluid an "electronic" album as you will hear all year, and it has a timeless feel: There's no reason it could not have been written and recorded 10, 20, or even 30 years ago.
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19. Future - DS2

Future - DS2
July 17, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
79
18 reviews
User Score
70
179 reviews
This is music for nihilists, for the reckless, for those who embrace darkness because they don’t see another option.
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18. Julia Holter - Have You in My Wilderness

Julia Holter - Have You in My Wilderness
September 25, 2015
Art Pop
Critic Score
87
24 reviews
User Score
84
418 reviews

For an artist who could sometimes seem forbidding or remote, Have You In My Wilderness feels humane,  and with each new release, it seems like a bit more of the personal is teased out of Holter's stately, high-concept approach.

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17. Drake - If You're Reading This It's Too Late

Drake - If You're Reading This It's Too Late
February 12, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
77
22 reviews
User Score
76
333 reviews

On If You’re Reading This, all of this chest beating is delivered over the most darkly hypnotic beats Drake’s graced since So Far Gone.

Full Review →

16. FKA Twigs - M3LL155X

FKA Twigs - M3LL155X
August 13, 2015
Art Pop
Critic Score
84
11 reviews
User Score
83
341 reviews
A glassy-voiced singer refracting melody through diffuse electronic beats, twigs takes the familiar R&B star as her avatar, but her presentation is more complex: her ideas mar beauty and mine power, and exalt sex without exotifying.
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15. Björk - Vulnicura

Björk - Vulnicura
January 20, 2015
Art Pop
Critic Score
86
27 reviews
User Score
82
507 reviews

It’s simultaneously her most mature feat of arranging and almost psychosomatically affecting. 

Full Review →

14. Young Thug - Barter 6

Young Thug - Barter 6
April 16, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
73
13 reviews
User Score
74
137 reviews

More than anything, Barter 6 feels like a 50-minute performance of what rap, as a form, can do: rap that need not transcend itself, towards High Art on one hand or commercial art on the other, in order to succeed in 2015.

Full Review →

13. Joanna Newsom - Divers

Joanna Newsom - Divers
October 23, 2015
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
87
30 reviews
User Score
83
233 reviews
Her consummate craft is a given; what surprises every time is her ceaselessly renewing sensitivity for life's vicissitudes and the fantastic ways she finds to express them.
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12. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
February 10, 2015
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
89
30 reviews
User Score
84
724 reviews

Fans of the Beatles and Sufjan Stevens will find that songs from Honeybear sit comfortably in their Spotify "Mountain Drive" playlists; fans of stand-up comedy will find the album as thorough, sad and bitterly cathartic as any good hour-long special.

Full Review →

11. Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden of Delete

Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden of Delete
November 13, 2015
Electronic
Critic Score
79
22 reviews
User Score
80
202 reviews
None of this would matter if the music weren't absolutely gripping—strange, moving, hilarious, sometimes pushing the limits of good taste, but always in a way that makes you want to hear more.
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10. Kamasi Washington - The Epic

Kamasi Washington - The Epic
May 5, 2015
Jazz Fusion
Critic Score
81
5 reviews
User Score
82
262 reviews

What The Epic does come to sound like, over the course of its significant running time, is a generational intervention—an educational tool that widens the definition of styles that fall under "jazz classicism."

Full Review →

9. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
March 24, 2015
Indie Rock
Critic Score
85
29 reviews
User Score
81
610 reviews
Even at their most clever, her songs glide from line to line and thought to thought, a stray observation about cracks in the walls leading to something about the wrinkles in Barnett's own palm, propelled by rock'n'roll that seems to find itself plenty serviceable but nothing to stop and fuss over.
Full Review →

8. Miguel - Wildheart

Miguel - Wildheart
June 30, 2015
Alternative R&B
Critic Score
81
24 reviews
User Score
79
265 reviews

On Wildheart, Miguel makes good on all of his cross-genre dabbling of the past five years, but unlike the track-based experiments that dotted his two prior LPs and five mixtapes, he extrapolates the heavy funk across an entire album. 

Full Review →

7. D'Angelo - Black Messiah

D'Angelo - Black Messiah
December 15, 2014
Neo-Soul
Critic Score
93
23 reviews
User Score
85
370 reviews

Black Messiah is a dictionary of soul, but D'Angelo is the rare classicist able to filter the attributes of the greats in the canon into a sound distinctly his own.

Full Review →

6. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
March 31, 2015
Indie Folk
Critic Score
90
31 reviews
User Score
87
913 reviews

This record is a return to the spare folk of Seven Swans, but with a decade's worth of honing and exploration packed into it. It already feels like his most classic and pure effort.

Full Review →

5. Tame Impala - Currents

Tame Impala - Currents
July 17, 2015
Psychedelic Pop
Critic Score
84
30 reviews
User Score
83
867 reviews

Nearly every proper song on Currents is a revelatory statement of Parker’s range and increasing expertise as a producer, arranger, songwriter, and vocalist while maintaining the essence of Tame Impala: Parker is just as irreverent working in soul and R&B as he is with psych-rock.

Full Review →

4. Vince Staples - Summertime '06

Vince Staples - Summertime '06
June 30, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
86
20 reviews
User Score
83
402 reviews

Summertime '06 is breathtakingly focused, a marathon that feels like a sprint. The production bangs and clanks throughout with a septic, rusted, retooled-buggy persistence, which Staples matches.

Full Review →

3. Grimes - Art Angels

Grimes - Art Angels
November 6, 2015
Art Pop
Critic Score
84
27 reviews
User Score
81
594 reviews
Here, she closes the gap between the pop she's idolized and the pop she is capable of.
Full Review →

2. Jamie xx - In Colour

Jamie xx - In Colour
June 1, 2015
UK Bass
Critic Score
84
31 reviews
User Score
82
727 reviews
It’s the dazzling culmination of Jamie xx’s last six years of work, gathering up elements of everything he’s done—moody ballads, floor-filling bangers, expansive and off-kilter collaborations with vocalists—and packing them tightly into a glittering ball that reflects spinning fragments of feeling back at us.
Full Review →

1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
March 16, 2015
Hip Hop
Critic Score
94
32 reviews
User Score
89
1194 reviews

Underneath the tragedy and adversity, To Pimp a Butterfly is a celebration of the audacity to wake up each morning to try to be better, knowing it could all end in a second, for no reason at all.

Full Review →
Original Source: http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9764-the-50-best-albums-of-2015/

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