To finish out the year, we’re offering the top 25 albums from various SPIN staffers. Here we have Staff Writer Colin Joyce.
I‘ll always gravitate to gravitas, but no year in my young life did self-serious grandeur and existential turmoil felt more necessary than this. If you watch the news too closely, each day brought a new tragedy, and each night was a battle to outrun the morning’s headlines — to grapple with the elephantine burden of being alive in heavy times. Simple songs can be proper diversionary tactics for some, small reminders of the power of tiny lights to illuminate vast darknesses, but I sought solace in overload, gnarled and bitter complexity, and artists bold enough to shout back at the void.
As usual, that meant a whole lot of metal and noise, gigantic vibrant pieces made to make your existence vaporous in the face of its crushing weight. But a handful of songwriters too tackled the anxiety of existence (and often its corresponding beauty) in small folk numbers, digitalist balladry, cyborg breakups, and small-time small-town songs about dealing. I didn’t necessarily relate to every album here on a textual level, but the best of them felt like reminders of my place in the universe. Some people want to see themselves in songs, I want to be swallowed by them.
25. James Place, Living on Superstition
24. Eskimeaux, O.K.
23. Oneohtrix Point Never, Garden of Delete
22. Matana Roberts, Coin Coin Chapter Three: river run thee
21. Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell
20. Steve Hauschildt, Where All Is Fled
19. Spectral Wound, Terra Nullius
18. Rustie, EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE
17. Horrendous, Anareta
16. Grimes, Art Angels
15. Elysia Crampton, American Drift
14. Cousin Stizz, Suffolk County
13. Helm, Olympic Mess
12. Dead to a Dying World, Litany
11. Girlpool, Before the World Was Big
10. Jeremih, Late Nights: The Album
9. Royal Headache, High
8. Krallice, Ygg Huur
7. Felicia Atkinson, A Readymade Ceremony
6. Arca, Mutant
5. Alex G, Beach Music
4. Eartheater, RIP Chrysalis/Metalepsis
3. Liturgy, The Ark Work
2. Björk, Vulnicura
1. Mount Eerie, Sauna