Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums of 2014

Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums of 2014

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50. Ben Frost - A U R O R A

May 26, 2014
Critic Score
80
16 reviews

A U R O R A can be heard as Frost’s attempt to create something physical, and it stands above the rest of his discography.

49. Mr Twin Sister - Mr Twin Sister

September 23, 2014
Critic Score
79
9 reviews

Mr Twin Sister sounds flawless, and the fact that they co-produced the album and put it out on their own label aligns with a lyrical streak of independence that runs throughout. 

48. Clark - Clark

November 3, 2014
Critic Score
80
12 reviews

The album adds a fresh layer of grandiosity that hints at festival-sized dance music or even Trent Reznor’s churning soundtrack work while never bowing down to any type of current trend.

47. Shellac - Dude Incredible

September 16, 2014
Critic Score
83
9 reviews

46. Ariana Grande - My Everything

August 25, 2014
Critic Score
66
16 reviews

45. Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

November 18, 2014
Critic Score
81
16 reviews
The separate moments are astounding, evidence of a musician who has managed to remain inquisitive even as he’s established his signature.

44. A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Sea When Absent

June 24, 2014
Critic Score
80
18 reviews

With Sea When Absent, A Sunny Day in Glasgow have finally made that loud rock record—full of crashing percussion and screaming guitars—but without abandoning the ambiance that makes them so distinct. 

43. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Piñata

March 18, 2014
Critic Score
80
17 reviews

It doesn't matter if Gibbs and Madlib were once considered artists playing to different audiences -- united in their uncompromising, independent-as-fuck visions, they put together something hardcore hip-hop heads on both sides should feel.

42. Owen Pallett - In Conflict

May 27, 2014
Critic Score
79
24 reviews

He's less concerned with dazzling us this time around, and as a result he moves us more.

40. Ty Segall - Manipulator

August 26, 2014
Critic Score
80
25 reviews

In sharp contrast to his previous album-to-album stylistic shifts, the songs of Manipulator represent a perfect melting-pot synthesis of Segall’s many sonic signatures, as if each component—from the British Invasion-inspired melodies to the glam-rock affectations to the berserker guitar solos—was carefully measured out in beakers and test tubes before being mixed together

39. Ought - More Than Any Other Day

April 29, 2014
Critic Score
80
11 reviews

It’s an anxious, distressed record to be sure—brimming with feelings of disaffection and dislocation—but it presents itself as such simply to show you how that nervous energy can be put to more positive, constructive use. 

38. Hundred Waters - The Moon Rang Like A Bell

May 27, 2014
Critic Score
77
14 reviews

Hundred Waters thrive in the place where post-rock meets freak folk, and sing-song melodies are twisted into strange shapes by circuitry.

37. Perfect Pussy - Say Yes to Love

March 18, 2014
Critic Score
81
21 reviews

Say Yes to Love is so relentlessly pummeling that it's almost meditative, and its songs are caked in so much sludge it's often hard to make out what Graves is saying. Until, very suddenly, it's not.

36. Tinashe - Aquarius

October 7, 2014
Critic Score
75
16 reviews

35. Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

July 29, 2014
Critic Score
83
29 reviews

The soul of Shabazz Palaces is pairing next-gen sounds with classic brass-tacks show-and-prove emceeing, and Lese Majesty tugs those extremes as far as they've ever been pulled; that it never shows signs of wear speaks to the strength of the bond.

34. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

April 1, 2014
Critic Score
81
27 reviews

To call it a “grower” would be accurate, though that downplays its visceral jolt, as previous Cloud Nothings records revealed their high points fairly quickly; here, the initial sonic beating's reflected in the unmistakable shades of purple, black, and blue-black in the resultant bruises.

33. Rich Gang - Tha Tour Part 1

September 29, 2014
Critic Score
80
8 reviews

32. White Lung - Deep Fantasy

June 17, 2014
Critic Score
77
20 reviews

Deep Fantasy is definitely savvy, ensuring its staunch ideals are delivered by a riveting, relatable frontwoman and 22 minutes of vicious, compact musicianship and addictive melody.

31. Taylor Swift - 1989

October 27, 2014
Critic Score
76
25 reviews

30. Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love

October 7, 2014
Critic Score
79
25 reviews

This is the sound of Iceage finding a balance between getting older and seeking immortality by way of leaping into an abandoned-lot fire head-first. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time and, for now, Iceage have found their own unstable sense of peace.

29. How to Dress Well - What Is This Heart?

June 24, 2014
Critic Score
74
29 reviews

Krell is informed by genre but driven by expression; in his mind, pop music is anything that aspires for the most immediate and impactful connection, even if it risks embarrassment in the process. As a result, his transcendent third LP "What Is This Heart?" is a pop album of the highest caliber.

27. YG - My Krazy Life

March 18, 2014
Critic Score
78
12 reviews

26. Ex Hex - Rips

October 7, 2014
Critic Score
81
13 reviews

Rips mostly finds the band walking away from Timony's established voice and pushing toward something more direct and energetic—embracing the past, but also blowing things up and starting again.

25. Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

November 6, 2014
Critic Score
71
21 reviews

Older material accounts for roughly half the tracklist, and some of it doesn’t mesh well with the fresher, weirder stuff around it. It helps to see Broke With Expensive Taste, then, as an anthology, The Portable Azealia Banks.

24. Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal

June 3, 2014
Critic Score
77
30 reviews

Sunbathing Animal's considered, whip-smart rock revivalism is a work of substantial growth from a band that already did "simple" quite well, placing Parquet Courts in their own distinct weight class.

23. Lykke Li - I Never Learn

May 5, 2014
Critic Score
73
26 reviews

I Never Learn utilizes the simplest tools of confessional songwriting: uneasily strummed acoustic guitars and resonant piano chords enlarged for texture and dramatic flair, like they’re appearing from behind a just-raised curtain, or from a radio as you sing to yourself. 

22. Future Islands - Singles

March 25, 2014
Critic Score
81
32 reviews

Herring acts on impulse—at no point does he sound calculated or clever—offering an open invitation to the uninhibited, to the goofy, and the sentimental.

21. Eno • Hyde - High Life

June 30, 2014
Critic Score
66
15 reviews

20. Vince Staples - Hell Can Wait

October 7, 2014
Critic Score
80
7 reviews

19. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

May 27, 2014
Critic Score
85
33 reviews

Are We There may be her most present-tense album to date, her most immediate and urgent—the peak of a steady upward trajectory.

18. Arca - Xen

November 4, 2014
Critic Score
78
17 reviews

Taken as a whole, it is an album about unstable unities, things that cannot easily hold together, wholes breaking to pieces and being put back together again in new and unfamiliar shapes.

17. Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

October 7, 2014
Critic Score
84
35 reviews

It's far and away the most free-ranging FlyLo album to date. And yet the album doesn't sprawl out of control, maybe because it doesn't really have the time to: the whole record clocks in at just over 38 minutes, all jolts of sound and quick bursts of motifs. 

16. St. Vincent - St. Vincent

February 25, 2014
Critic Score
87
36 reviews

With each release, Clark sounds less like anybody but herself, and more forcefully embraces a darkness that was quietly stirring in even her earliest songs.

15. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire for No Witness

February 18, 2014
Critic Score
81
28 reviews

Burn Your Fire for No Witness conjures the past without ever imitating it, swirling its influences into something intimate, impressionistic and new.

14. Real Estate - Atlas

March 4, 2014
Critic Score
75
31 reviews

They’ve made the first record of their career that feels like it might teach you something over time. It is rare, and special, for a band to be this effortlessly and completely themselves. 

13. Spoon - They Want My Soul

August 5, 2014
Critic Score
79
32 reviews

As guitar rock continues its slow and inevitable transition into a bygone art, They Want My Soul pulls at familiar threads, fraying things to make them seem now, if not new.

12. Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

April 1, 2014
Critic Score
79
23 reviews

His second full-length, Salad Days, isn’t a departure from its predecessor so much as a richer, increasingly assured refinement. For all its internal contradictions, Salad Days is no more or less than a great album in a tradition of no-big-deal great albums.

11. Perfume Genius - Too Bright

September 23, 2014
Critic Score
85
31 reviews

These songs feel less like songs and more like treasures, ones that fill you with power and wisdom, and as a result, Too Bright seems capable of resonating with, comforting, and moving anyone who's ever felt alienated, discriminated against, or "other-ized," regardless of sexual orientation.

10. Caribou - Our Love

October 7, 2014
Critic Score
80
32 reviews

The key attribute is ultimately confidence. Our Love is a very assured record, from its unconventional, austere arrangements to its unrelenting focus and thematic consistency. 

9. Ariel Pink - pom pom

November 18, 2014
Critic Score
74
27 reviews

For all the arch humor and affectation, Pink writes some of most wistful and peculiarly moving songs in contemporary music. 

8. Todd Terje - It's Album Time

April 8, 2014
Critic Score
81
26 reviews

For as much ground as he covers on It's Album Time, the music feels effortless, gliding from Henry Mancini-esque detective jazz to bouncy, Stevie Wonder funk like breeze blowing through the waffle weave of a leisure suit.

7. Sun Kil Moon - Benji

February 11, 2014
Critic Score
84
24 reviews

While Benji is consumed with death, sadness, mourning, and tragedy, there's gratitude within all this melancholy and it’s actually Kozelek’s least depressing and most life-affirming record

6. Swans - To Be Kind

May 13, 2014
Critic Score
87
28 reviews

To Be Kind adheres to a policy of transcendence by any means necessary, even if it means repeatedly bashing you in the face with a mallet until you’re seeing stars and colors.

5. Grouper - Ruins

October 31, 2014
Critic Score
81
18 reviews

What we're left with is achingly beautiful and ... almost unnervingly direct.

4. Aphex Twin - Syro

September 23, 2014
Critic Score
85
33 reviews

The care and virtuosity with which these tracks were assembled is immediately obvious, but nothing feels difficult; the record’s easy flow despite it all is one of its primary virtues, and there’s something new to uncover with every listen.

3. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

March 18, 2014
Critic Score
85
33 reviews

What at first seemed like a fairly straightforward, traditionalist roots-rock exercise has very gradually, very subtly blossomed into something wondrous and profound.

2. FKA Twigs - LP1

August 12, 2014
Critic Score
86
40 reviews

Quiet as it may be, this is a huge album, a monumental debut. On a formal level, it takes the kinds of risks that few pop artists, and few "experimental" artists, for that matter, are willing to take these days.

1. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

October 28, 2014
Critic Score
86
28 reviews

Sounding like nothing else and answering to nobody but its creators, Run the Jewels 2 is in a class by itself.

Original Source: http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9558-the-50-best-albums-of-2014/
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