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
20 My Bloody Valentine Loveless
Only a handful of other albums from the entire history of rock can stake a claim to singularity as strong as that of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. With the roar of what sounds like 1,000 guitars and haunting vocals that split the difference between heaven and hell, the album proffered a fully realized form of what the SPIN review at the time wryly called "sophisticated music" that would effectively fulfill the entire idea of shoegaze. No wonder, as it came from the mind of Kevin Shields, who in 1989 told the magazine: "I find that often if I have a dream about something, it seems that, just because I've woken up, I don't feel like it's finished."

SPIN Archive on Google
- My Bloody Valentine profile (May 1989)
- Loveless review (December 1991)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
19 Jay-Z The Blueprint
"Jay-Ho forsakes big pimping and gets personal," SPIN wrote in 2002. "Plus: one-take vocals and a whole mess of steaming vitriol. Punk record of the year? Fo' sheazy!" And in 2005, the magazine named The Blueprint, with its Kanye cameos and beef-ready vibe, as one of the best of the past two decades. "Jay-Z settled all scores. To his nemesis Nas, he went nuclear, dropping his Lizard King-aided dis track, "Takeover." And to his critics who pegged him as the poster boy for hip-hop's shallow materialism, he presented a moving portrayal of an artist as a hood/businessman/New Yorker/young man."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Best Albums of the Year (January 2002)
- 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
18 The Strokes Is This It
Hipster dance parties in the new millennium would have been vastly different without this instant classic of New York City style and sass. Julian Casablancas, Albert Hammond, Jr., and company spawned a legion of imitators with deceptively simple guitar riffs and melodies as catchy as any social disease in the Lower East Side. SPIN praised the record's "glamour and grit and sugar and sleaze" before it was even released in 2001. That frenzy of buzz paid off. Is This It moved nearly 200,000 units, becoming the cosmopolitan currency of cool and coming to embody "a sort of global downtown culture."

SPIN Archive on Google
- The New "It" Band (November 2001)
- Strokes feature (November 2003)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
17 De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising
SPIN called De La Soul a "new wave rap crew" when 3 Feet High and Rising came out and threw day-glo flower signs over a rap landscape more often given to the dark and grim. The group's mix of "Steely Dan, Sesame Street, and Kraftwerk breaks" would prove improbably influential, if only for a short while. And there's been ample time since to lay praise on a group that, as SPIN wrote in 1991, "gave voice to a new black bohemianism that was at once suburban and urbane, politically aware and strictly nonbourgeoise, multicultural and strongly rooted in African-American experience."

SPIN Archive on Google
- De La Soul profile (May 1989)
- De La Soul profile (May 1991)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
16 Pixies Doolittle
Wrote SPIN reviewer Joe Levy of this late '80s gem: "By turns sweet and sick, Doolittle is full of angels posing as whores, taking your money and giving you divine pleasure." Divine pleasure is one of the best kinds, and credit for such descriptions goes in part to the kind of rich writing favored by ace songsmith Frank Black. It also goes to the calm live-wire spirit that led Michael Azerrad to remember, in an oral history of the Pixies from 2004: "When they opened [in 1989] for the Cure, they were so confident that they arranged their set in alphabetical order. They knew they were so shit-hot that they could shuffle their deck any which way and still win the game."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Doolittle review (June 1989)
- Pixies oral history (September 2004)

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