The list of the best albums of 2015 is already better than the 2014 end of year list

We’re only three months into the year but let’s just go ahead and declare that 2015 has already been more impressive, exciting and vital for new music than 2014. Sure, there were some pretty decent records released last year – St Vincent, War On Drugs, Mac DeMarco, Run The Jewels, Kimbra, Remi – but the first 90 days of 2015 stands up pretty damn well against the full calendar of 2014 album releases. And not just because when Robin Thicke released Paula last July he stank up the whole year.

The proof is in the pudding numbers

In 2014 only one album – D’Angelo’s masterful comeback Black Messiah – managed to score a Metacritic rating over 90. And it was released in December, well after most end of year lists had already been published. This year there are already three widely-reviewed albums that have already shattered the magical 90 rating barrier. Kendrick Lamar’s astonishing To Pimp A Butterfly has been acclaimed as an instant classic with a score in the mid-90s, while Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell and Sleater-Kinney’s first album in a decade No Cities To Love have also received universal acclaim and booked a place at the top of the year’s lists.

Just behind this trio of front runners there are excellent new records from Father John Misty, Bjork, Drake, Panda Bear, Laura Marling, and Earl Sweatshirt. While the debut albums from Tobias Jesso Jnr and Natalie Prass – and the new record from Prass’ producer Matthew E White – have set off a wave of think-pieces about the return of ‘70s Laurel Canyon influenced singer-songwriters. Courtney Barnett has confirmed her place as a star with rave reviews for her debut album while Dick Diver, Twerps, Pond and Pearls have all released records are likely frontrunners for the Australian Music Prize. If that was an end of year wrap up it’d be impressive but there are still nine months left in the year.

Follow-ups to 2014’s best albums are already on the way

After topping Pitchfork ’s Album of the Year list in 2014 Run The Jewels are aiming to keep up their strike rate with a third album in as many years. Beck is set to prove his artistry with a followup to his Grammy winning Morning Phase later in the year, and last year’s surprise Mercury Music Prize winners Young Fathers have a new record out in April. Lana Del Rey says her “more noirish” followup to Ultraviolence is already finished and less than 12 months on from the release of his solo record Lazaretto Jack White has regrouped The Dead Weather for their first record since 2010. Flying Lotus has already appeared on the Kendrick record this year and his alter-ego Captain Murphy is set to drop a record before the end of the year. And miserablists are also celebrating the news that Sun Kil Moon will drop a followup to Benji in June that features the songs ‘Cry Me a River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues’ and ‘With a Sort of Grace I Walked to the Bathroom to Cry’.

And the rest of the year ain’t too shabby either

2015’s crowded release calendar also includes new records from Kanye West, My Morning Jacket, Hot Chip, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Florence and the Machine, PJ Harvey and James Blake. Blur and Faith No More will both return from decade-long breaks with new records in the next few months while Alabama Shakes and Django Django will drop highly anticipated followup to their 2012 debuts.

Jamie xx will drop his solo debut in June leading a class of 2015 debutantes including hotly tipped SXSW hype acts Shamir, Soak and Bully, who will all release their first records this year. On the local front we can look forward to new Flume, Alpine and Tame Impala albums; Meg Mac’s debut; that long-overdue Royal Headache record; and new releases from at least three Australian Music Prize winners – Hermitude, The Drones and Lisa Mitchell – before the end of 2015. And while only the most optimistic fans could really hope to hear a new Tool record in 2015, Frank Ocean, Grimes and Radiohead could all realistically have records out by the end of the year.

That’s an insanely impressive list of releases – and one that puts 2014 to shame. And we get hover boards in a few months so there’s no question that 2015 will be far better than last year.

THE 50 BEST ALBUMS OF 2014