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Year-End Lists

Kyle McGovern’s 25 Best Albums of 2015

To finish out the year, we’re offering the top 25 albums from various SPIN staffers. Here we have Senior Editor Kyle McGovern.

When I think back on 2015, a few moments spring to mind immediately. There’s the night when, just as I was settling into bed, I realized that Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly had made its way onto iTunes a week ahead of schedule. There’s the afternoon when, in the middle of a week-long family vacation to Maine, I was able to stretch out, take in the open air and sunshine, and squirrel away some time with Kacey MusgravesPageant Material. There’s the evening when I saw Protomartyr perform a covers-only set — songs by Nirvana, the Ramones, other favorites — on a ferry navigating the waters around New Hampshire.

Then there are the conversations I had with musicians: the engrossing back-and-forth with Destroyer’s Dan Bejar; the hours-long, fever dream-like talk over the phone with Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox; the quick chat with Ice Cube about the making of his 1990 debut; the day I spent shadowing Beach Slang‘s indefatigable frontman, James Alex.

And, of course, there’s the music itself, the records that kept me coming back all year long: Earl Sweatshirt’s agoraphobic LP; Deafheaven‘s devastating and grand song cycle; Oneohtrix Point Never’s bleak interpretation of puberty; Father John Misty’s apocalyptic romance. There were too many to fit into a top 25, but there was never any question as to which album belonged in the peak position. Tame Impala‘s lush Currents — a full-length that swirls synths and guitars, R&B and psychedelia, worry and bliss — never lost its shine, never wilted, no matter what the season. Sometimes, you’re simply lucky enough to have the right record come along at the right time; it’s difficult to explain, but some albums just open something up inside of you. Let it happen.

25. Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell
24. Oneohtrix Point Never, Garden of Delete
23. Earl Sweatshirt, I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside
22. Alex G, Beach Music
21. Kurt Vile, b’lieve i’m goin down…
20. Grimes, Art Angels
19. Deerhunter, Fading Frontier
18. Young Thug, Barter 6
17. Protomartyr, The Agent Intellect
16. Beach House, Depression Cherry
15. Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material 
14. Jamie xx, In Colour
13. Destroyer, Poison Season
12. Chastity Belt, Time to Go Home
11. Deafheaven, New Bermuda
10. Miguel, WILDHEART
9. Future, DS2
8. Majical Cloudz, Are You Alone?
7. Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
6. Drake, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
5. Waxahatchee, Ivy Tripp
4. Vince Staples, Summertime ’06
3. Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear
2. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
1. Tame Impala, Currents