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
115 OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
"Stankonia meets Sandinista!" SPIN declared in 2004, naming this album "simply the most adventurous 'rap' record ever made." It's a dense mad scientist of hip-hop experimentation, dosed with OutKast's inimitable sense of style and humor. "At two hours plus, the double CD is nearly half-rapless and foregoes obvious singles in favor of aberrant crooning, second-line horn charts, drum'n'jazz fusion, and Siamese-twin song mutations." In a July 2005 issue, Andre 3000 copped to a serious influence from Prince's 1987 classic, Sign 'o' the Times: "That album lasted so long for me. I keep finding songs on it."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Best Albums of 2003 (January 2004)
- 110 Best Album of 1985-2005 (July 2005)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
114 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
Psychedelic electronic music with a soul found a champion in Animal Collective. "Merriweather plays like the summation of a long, strange trip, combining the group's career touchstones: harmonic Beach Boys pop, African tribal chants, minimalism, techno, psychedelia, and dub," SPIN wrote in a 2009 review. That's a crowded house, but one that Animal Collective has learned to live in comfortably. And they get by with a little help from their friends — as Deerhunter's Bradford Cox told the magazine in a February 2009 feature: "I consider Animal Collective to be the most important band of our time."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Merriweather Post Pavilion review (January 2009)
- Animal Collective feature (February 2009)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
113 Danger Mouse The Grey Album
Iconoclastic, brilliant, and completely against the law, is one way to describe this mash-up of Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' "White Album". As SPIN wrote in an April 2004 review, "It's the kind of record only Paul McCartney's legal team could hate." You won't find it in a store — it was never for sale — but a savvy self-release turned the DIY album into an internet phenomenon and a flashpoint for those who thought about copyright law. "I knew The Grey Album was illegal when I was doing it," Danger Mouse told the magazine in 2004. "But I didn't want that to stop me from trying it as an art project."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Grey Album review (April 2004)
- Danger Mouse feature (May 2004)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
112 Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights
Resurrecting post-punk for the downtown set, Interpol came dressed for success: coolly blase, anthemic, and hip as hell, outfitted with the Factory Records catalog and skinny ties. Introducing the group in 2002, SPIN compared them to "Joy Division with a good weed dealer." Frontman Paul Banks was ambitious even before the band's superstardom: "I would like to cause a complete and utter upheaval in the psychology of all mankind and completely subvert all society." That goal may still be unrealized, but Interpol's debut album left a serious mark with propulsively brooding tracks like "Obstacle 1" and "NYC."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Interpol article (October 2002)
- Best Albums of 2002 (January 2003)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
111 Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque
SPIN famously picked Bandwagonesque over Nirvana's Nevermind as "Album of the Year" for 1991, which is kind of like having picked the New York Mets to win the Super Bowl. But beyond the mess of such crossed signals (Teenage Fanclub never seemed to even aspire to such a grand scale) lies a gorgeous, gaseous rock album made in the mold of countless old power-pop bands and especially the great Big Star. The original review by Jim Greer laps up the album's fuzzy shine and languorous melodies, while deriving a strange sort of pleasure from the fact that "the recombining process is, these days, about the closest thing we've got to originality in rock music."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Bandwagonesque review (December 1991)
- Teenage Fanclub profile (January 1992)

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