The 50 best albums of 2015

10. Grimes – Art Angels


Grime’s genius is in her knack for synthesis (of ideas, as well as her talent with actual synthesisers). Her sound and aesthetic are completely, undeniably unique, yet so recognisably a composite of her eclectic taste. – Greer Clemens


9. Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness


The year’s most questing and questioning pop album, Julia Holter’s latest opus edges into delirium but always maintains a certain measure of control. These 10 tracks may unspool like an inner monologue that we’re only partially privy to, but the music itself surrounds and pervades, blurring the lines between classic songwriting and forward-thinking orchestration. Vocally and lyrically, meanwhile, Holter pokes and prods at the daily mystery of being human. – Doug Wallen

8. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear


With progenitors including Jeff Buckley’s Grace, Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska; I Love You, Honeybear is firmly routed in heart of America, but its perspective is far from flag-waving patriotism. I Love You Honeybear is an intimately close-to-the-bone emotional exploration that not only fulfills his potential that was glimpsed on his debut, but trumps the folk masterpieces of his old outfit through sheer conviction. – Chris Lewis

7. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

You won’t walk away humming the tunes, but Carrie and Lowell will stay with you. Sufjan has prettier albums, and sweeter albums, but none has the impact of Carrie and Lowell, though maybe that’s for the best. It’s not an everyday listen; it’s far too discomfiting to be the background to a train trip, or even in a film score. It is, however, a beautiful and sincere meditation on loss, grief and human connection, and sometimes that is exactly what you need. – Joel Turner

6. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

The light and the dark, the loud and the quiet, the black and the white… there’s so much sound and colour on Sound and Color that it will take a few listens to properly get used to it. Once it all clicks into place, however, it becomes all the more rewarding. This is an album that proves that there is far more to this band than meets the eye. – David James Young

5. Jamie xx – In Colour


Jamie xx makes dance music to move you emotionally as much as physically. Juxtaposing arresting beats with slick production values, he has created a lush, immersive soundscape to get lost in. – Sean A’Hearn

4. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

Now that Sleater-Kinney are back after a decade away, it’s instantly clear why they cut such an impressive figure in the crowded landscape of indie rock: they pen anthems at once elemental and elegant, tapping the mouthy ire of punk while seizing on the serpentine turns and alien melodies of art-rock. No Cities to Love is the ideal comeback. There’s so much of the band’s past in here, from their spikiest hostility to their sleekest accessibility, but they also seem to be rewriting the rules as they go, which makes this album just fine for newcomers too. – Doug Wallen

3. Tame Impala – Currents

After two very fine albums of high-quality fanfiction about what it would sound like if John Lennon fronted Cream, Currents is an impressive new direction for Tame Impala. Though it’s still as psychedelic as ever, there’s less guitar and instead Currents is an album of pristine fingerclicks, washes of synth, and disco beats. All those prog touches we’re used to – the phasing effects and echoing vocals and sci-fi keyboards – are still here as well, just applied as gloss to an entirely different genre. – Jody MacGregor

2. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit




1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly


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