The Best Albums of 2014
10. Landlady, Upright Behavior
The Brooklyn band’s debut album, with its unpredictable rhythms and goofy, postmodern lyrics, is a cheerful and rewarding listen. The band’s frontman Adam Schatz, who also fronts the excellent Man Man, is at the center of the album’s joyous chaos, singing seemingly off-the-cuff lyrics like “You’re a piece of paper and I’m a pistol” (from “Dying Day”) and “I am not an expert in any sense of the word” (from “Above My Ground”). The band’s most impressive feat is that it sounds so natural doing it.
The 10 Best Albums of 2014
Our guide to the year’s best recordings begins with a playlist of the tracks we keep coming back to.
By JON CARAMANICA, JON PARELES, NATE CHINEN and GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO
MAY 12, 2014
1. Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels 2” (Mass Appeal/RED)
Killer Mike and El-P make hip-hop that hits hard, sounds smart and is anything but complacent. Their second album as a team is an exhilarating assault on hypocrisy, police brutality, racism and corruption: it’s also a party record.**
2. FKA twigs, “LP1” (Young Turks)
This British singer-songwriter makes music that unfolds slowly and sinuously, with a dreamlike sense of dislocation. Her voice floats in space; her songs are full of narcotic beats and suspenseful atmospheres.**
3. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Black Messiah” (RCA)
After 14 years in hiding, D’Angelo returned with a stunning album as relevant as anything else released this year:
2014 was a great year for pop music. The biggest stars of the previous half-decade–Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyoncé–experimented with new sounds and pushed their music in exciting directions; meanwhile, a slew of fresh faces delivered some of the year’s most indelible moments. To determine this list, we asked Pitchfork writers and editors to vote on their favorite full-length studio albums released between January 1 and December 10, 2014.
Here are our picks for the 50 best albums of 2014:
The best pop album of 2014 was the work of two men who were born around the time Michael Jackson’s Thriller came out. Neither is a young buck anymore, but together they’ve created a truly great album.
I’m talking about Aphex Twin’s Syro and Caribou’s Our Love.
Both albums are long overdue. It took Richard D. James six years to follow up Drukqs, and it took Dan Snaith eight to follow up The Milk of Human Kindness. Both artists have made some very nice EPs in the meantime. But neither has released anything nearly as good as their latest full-lengths since 2001.
If you’ve never heard either artist before, I’d recommend starting with Aphex Twin if you like electronic music that sounds like an alien had sex with a Game Boy and then made its baby dance, or Caribou if you prefer electronic music that sounds like a human being high on love and drugs singing into an old tape recorder.
2014 was a great year for electronic music. Many producers in the genre have moved towards the mainstream, achieving both critical and commercial success. This list is limited to albums that were released in 2014, and it only includes full-length releases from artists with a record deal or major distribution.
10. Röyksopp, The Inevitable End
The Norwegian duo’s final album together contains an eclectic blend of sounds: delicate piano ballads, upbeat pop tracks and heady downtempo jams.
9. DJ Koze, Amygdala
The German producer’s fifth album is filled with his signature leftfield sound. It’s equal parts quirky humor and serious talent, with stellar guest spots from Matthew Dear, Caribou and Apparat.
8. Four Tet, Beautiful Rewind
Kieran Hebden’s eighth studio album as Four Tet is a playful hodgepodge of samples and instruments from around the world. The result is an intriguing collection of songs that are at once weird and wonderful.
7. Com Truise, Wave 1
Seth Haley’s first release under the Com Truise moniker in four years is a warm collection of synth-filled gems that would sound just as good on a mixtape as they do on an album.
The best electronic albums of 2014. Electronic music is a very broad term that encompasses almost all genres you can think of that were created using electronic instruments or software.
1. Aphex Twin – Syro
2. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
3. Caribou – Our Love
4. The Bug – Angels and Devils
5. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
6. FKA twigs – LP1
7. Actress – Ghettoville
8. Clark – Clark
9. SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
10. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
FKA twigs, LP1
Though it’s only been out for about three months, it’s hard to imagine a world without FKA twigs’ LP1. The debut album from the British artist (born Tahliah Barnett) has been hailed as one of 2014’s best, and with good reason: It’s a fascinating, fully-formed exploration of what pop music can be in the hands of a fearless risk-taker. Twigs draws on electronic dance music, R&B and indie rock to create her own twisted world, one that’s often dark and foreboding—but also occasionally funny and even uplifting.
Twigs is a fully-realized artist: she writes her own songs (with some co-writing help), dances in her videos, acts in them (sometimes alongside Shia LaBeouf), and even directed a short film. She doesn’t need our help—and yet it’s hard not to feel like you’re part of something special when you listen to her music.LP1 is an album for the ages—one that will help define 2014 for years to come.