125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years

SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985.

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years
WRITTEN BY
SPIN Staff

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
75 Björk Post
The synth riff on "Army of Me" sounded the alarm: an Icelandic alien was here to change the face of pop music. "She's got a voice like a trumpet, pronunciation skills that rival ABBA's, and a jazz singer's taste for certain kinds of melodic interval," SPIN wrote in a playfully positive 1996 review. "Whether her accompaniment is punk guitar, disco beats, jazz horns, or symphonic strings, Björk always comes across as her own wacky and seductively weird creation." A decade later, the magazine called her mix of popular convention and quasi-insane experimentation: "Like Madonna with a MoMA membership."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Post review (July 1995)
- 100 Greatest Albums (July 2005)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
74 Sleater-Kinney Dig Me Out
A 1997 SPIN review connected the dots between radical feminism, lesbianism, and punk spirit, saying it all lead to this Olympia trio's raw "suffragette rock." Yet it wasn't only for the riot grrrls: "Dig Me Out captures the noise of a soul-filled body shaking itself awake, and that's an experience that bridges any gender divide." And if that body doesn't respond, Sleater-Kinney isn't happy. "Our music should physically take you over," drummer Janet Weiss told SPIN in May of 1997. "When I hear people refer to new albums as 'good background music,' I think of that as an insult."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Dig Me Out review (July 1997)
- Sleater-Kinney feature (May 1997)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
73 The Pogues Rum Sodomy & the Lash
The story of drunken, angry, Irish-bar-song bands could be said to begin and end with the Pogues, and the story of the Pogues could be said to begin in earnest with their second album, Rum Sodomy & the Lash. Elvis Costello produced it, with a mind to keep things raw and unpolished, and the approach worked for what SPIN would later describe as a collection of songs that "lilted and rocked like an Irish wedding party gone bad: the band's been drinking, they start to brood...while Shane MacGowan screams about the devil and rape and British soldiers." MacGowan's songs also happened to be highly poetic and charged, and they were delivered with the kind of energy that transformed a folk-music sound into something that Glenn O'Brien wrote "could blow away any heavy-metal band in the world with that intensity."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Pogues profile feature (June 1986)
- Review of the Pogues' Peace and Love (September 1989)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
72 Lucinda Williams Lucinda Williams
Rootsy Americana maiden Lucinda Williams came on strong with her 1988 album, which was her third record but her first — significantly, it would seem — to be plainly self-titled. The country-rock songwriter was already storied at the time. "Like one of those late-blooming winter flowers, Lucinda Williams pops through the musical topsoil with resilience and beauty that demand attention," wrote Jim Fouratt in 1989. Lucinda Williams would help gain and maintain that attention over the years, as evidenced by a big 1998 profile of what SPIN then took to calling a "neurotic diva with one foot in Faulkner's South."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Lucinda Williams album review (March 1989)
- Lucinda Williams profile (July 1998)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
71 Oasis Definitely Maybe
"For Oasis," SPIN wrote in 1996, "rock is a sport." And the game got started with Definitely Maybe, an assuming debut that "came on loud and brash...with songs about what life might be like as rock'n'roll stars." Soon after their first record, Oasis became rock'n'roll stars, of course — thanks to a little-more-than-slightly absurd Britpop rivalry with Blur, as well as a notorious tendency to go big. As the magazine put it by the time Oasis made the cover, in 1997: "Amid this rather prudent, health-conscious decade of non-ostentation, Oasis have revived the grand rock tradition of hedonism and bad behavior."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Oasis profile (February 1996)
- Oasis cover (October 1997)

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