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
90 Elliott Smith XO
It's hard not to listen to the late Elliott Smith without nostalgia: the mopey singer-songwriter did commit suicide by sword, after all. A January 1999 profile in SPIN captured the indie icon in all his shabby, shambolic glory, dressed in thrift store duds and admitting that, "The last thing I need right now is somebody telling me how fame can make you crazy." XO followed Elliott's unexpected post-Good Will Hunting celebrity. The success certainly didn't make him upbeat, though the piano bounce of "Baby Britain" gets close, even as its lyrics describe "floating over a sea of vodka."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Elliott Smith (January 1999)
- Elliott Smith feature (February 2004)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
89 Basement Jaxx Remedy
"Among the most inventive dance albums of the decade," SPIN surmised in 1999. "What we admire in deep house and American garage is the music's untouchable sexiness, which U.K. house has always lacked. At the same time, we like to rough up that polished sound with some English punk attitude," Jaxx member Simon Ratcliffe told the magazine. "What's great about [Basement Jaxx] is the way they go from cartoon disco to sick drug-noise," the magazine added in 2001, "from imagining Prince as Chicago house auteur to perfecting Brazil-as-utopia samba-house."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Greatest Albums of the '90s (September 1999)
- Rooty review (references Remedy) (August 2001)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
88 Jeff Buckley Grace
Jeff Buckley came close to transcending his status as the son of British folk legend Tim Buckley during his short musical life. And most of that owes to his lone studio full-length, Grace. "If Buckley continues to evolve in the direction that Grace indicates, only good things can result," read the SPIN review, which was taken with Buckley's distinctive vocal quaver and sense of song. Sadly, that evolution was cut short when Buckley died, at 30. Still, as the magazine put it in 2004: "Thom Yorke owes him, Chris Martin owes him, Devendra Banhart owes him big time."

SPIN Archive on Google
- Grace review (October 1994)
- Reissues review (November 2004)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
87 The White Stripes White Blood Cells
The dirty spirit of rock'n'roll got dug up by this Detroit duo, who pretended to be brother and sister. "The thing was it wasn't hype," legendary British DJ John Peel told SPIN in 2003. "I think people were just relieved at the simplicity and directness of the White Stripes." That meant garage riffs and thumping, primal drums. "We wanted things to be as childish as possible, but with no sense of humor," Jack White told the magazine in 2002. "Because that's how children think."

SPIN Archive on Google
- White Stripes oral history (September 2003)
- White Stripes cover story (October 2002)

125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years - SPIN's editors rank the top releases since the magazine's beginning in 1985
86 TV on the Radio Return to Cookie Mountain
This Williamsburg, Brooklyn, band blew up the hard way: with a lot of hustle, heart, and sick two-part harmonies. In an eye-opening 2007 SPIN article, the band lays out their creative chronology. Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe listened to the Beatles and Beach Boys in Nigeria; guitarist and producer Dave Sitek recorded and tour-managed Yeah Yeah Yeahs; drummer Gerard Butler was a subway busker. It's no wonder that these disparate histories smashed together in such a unique way on the band's album, which "proves 'soulfulness' and 'art rock' aren't antithetical."

SPIN Archive on Google
- TVOTR feature (January 2007)
- TVOTR feature (August 2006)

Continue on next page →

00:00 00:00 No Song Selected More info
00:00 00:00
placeholder
Now Playing
  • 1 J Dilla — Give Em What They Want " 02:45
  • 2 Low Leaf — Set Me Free " 02:13
  • 3 Doe Paoro — Nobody " 03:05
  • 4 Chromeo with Ezra Koenig — Ezra's Interlude " 01:55
  • 5 The Julie Ruin — Brightside " 03:04
  • 6 Mirel Wagner — What Love Looks Like " 03:07
  • 7 Amen Dunes — I Can't Dig It " 04:53

SPIN is a member of SPIN Music Group, a division of BUZZMEDIA