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100 best albums of the 21st century, according to critics

  • 100 best albums of the 21st century, according to critics

    Music has always played a role in helping to define cultural moments throughout history. Stacker set out to find the best albums of the 21st century. Compiling data from Metacritic, Stacker ranked albums according to their Metascore, which represents an aggregation of critic reviews. Only albums with seven or more reviews were eligible. EPs, box sets, re-issues, and compilations were not considered. Some of Stacker’s findings like Valerie June’s American roots music or country’s Ashley Monroe, Jamey Johnson, and the legendary Loretta Lynn might get listeners to sing along or even forget about the outside world for a few minutes.

    At the other end of the spectrum, there’s no shortage of music for getting angry and letting it all out. Listen for Napalm Death’s growling grindcore, Converger’s metalcore, Primal Scream, Deafheaven’s black metal, and the sounds of Polish extreme metal band Satanist that keeps vexing authorities in its homeland.

    Discover artists who honor their predecessors who helped shape the world we live in today. Poet Jamila Woods offers thoughtful rhythm and blues portraits of legends like James Baldwin and Muddy Waters, Rapsody wrote songs for her heroes from Sojourner Truth to Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, and jazz composer Wadada Leo Smith honored 10 crucial years in the civil rights movement.

    Be transported far away by the West African sounds of Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, and Bassekou Kouyate or go back in time with Woody Guthrie’s recordings from the 1940s and a 1992 Nirvana concert in Britain. Then there’s the tempting option just to dance, which many say is good for both body and soul. Give a listen to the techno sounds of Isolée, hip-hop’s Missy Elliott, the pounding dubstep by Britain’s Burial, and Frank Ocean’s lively rhythm and blues, soul and pop collection.

    Read on for 100 best albums of the 21st century, according to critics.

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  • #100. "When I Get Home" by Solange

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.5
    - Release date: March 1, 2019

    Best described as a return to her roots, Solange’s fifth studio album, “When I Get Home” is an exploration of her native Houston. A mix of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop, many of the tracks reference physical locations in the city close to the singer’s heart, including “Binz,” the street where she and sister Beyoncé grew up. In addition to the album, Solange also released a 33-minute film, which matches experimental visuals to the unique sound.

  • #97. "Eternity, In Your Arms" by Creeper (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.6
    - Release date: March 24, 2017

    “Eternity, in Your Arms” was the long-awaited full-length debut album by the English punk band Creeper after years of touring and extended play releases. To build momentum ahead of the album release, the band staged a treasure hunt, laying clues for fans to follow in their hometown of Southampton.

  • #97. "All Mirrors" by Angel Olsen (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.6
    - Release date: Oct. 4, 2019

    Angel Olsen’s fifth album “All Mirrors” with its expansive strings is a marked change from her earlier spare work. From St. Louis, the indie rocker was raised by a foster family who adopted her. 

  • #97. "The Dusk in Us" by Converge (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.6
    - Release date: Nov. 3, 2017

    The ninth album by metalcore’s Converge, “The Dusk in Us” moves beyond the personal betrayals and despair of the band’s earlier work into broader looks at police brutality, war, and violence. A stand-out is “Arkhipov Calm,” drawn from the story of Soviet Naval officer Vasili Arkhipov who refused to fire nuclear weapons from a submarine in 1962 and helped keep the Cuban missile crisis from blowing up into all-out war.

  • #93. "LEGACY! LEGACY!" by Jamila Woods (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.9
    - Release date: May 10, 2019

    Chicago poet, singer, and songwriter Jamila Woods mixes political commentary with rhythm and blues on “LEGACY! LEGACY!” Each song is a tribute and portrait of a legend—James Baldwin, Eartha Kitt, Muddy Waters, Zora Neale Hurston, and others.

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  • #93. "Safe In The Hands Of Love" by Yves Tumor (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.9
    - Release date: Sept. 5, 2018

    Safe in the Hands of Love” was the first album by the enigmatic Yves Tumor once he signed on with Britain’s indie Warp Records. The experimental artist from Knoxville, Tennessee, spent several years in California before making records from Europe.

  • #93. "The Order of Time" by Valerie June (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.9
    - Release date: March 10, 2017

    Tennessee’s Valerie June wrote all of the songs on “The Order of Time,” an ethereal album of American roots music grounded in country, blues, gospel, folk, and more. The album features background vocals by June’s friend Norah Jones.

  • #93. "Chris" by Christine and the Queens (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 7.9
    - Release date: Sept. 21, 2018

    Christine and the Queens was an identity taken by French pop singer and songwriter Heloise Letissier, who pared it down and transformed it for her second album “Chris.” The work is two discs—one mostly in English and the second in French.

  • #90. "HoboSapiens" by John Cale (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 8.2
    - Release date: Sept. 7, 2004

    Welsh avant-garde rocker John Cale was a founder of the 1960s influential Velvet Underground, which also included singer and guitarist Lou Reed. The title of “HoboSapiens” comes from an essay, never published, that Cale wrote about Bob Dylan.

  • #90. "Kiwanuka" by Michael Kiwanuka (tie)

    - Metascore: 89
    - User score: 8.2
    - Release date: Nov. 1, 2019

    The mournful, lilting “Kiwanuka” is Londoner Michael Kiwanuka’s third album. His song “Cold Little Heart” from an earlier album will be instantly recognizable to fans of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” as the theme song of the hit miniseries.

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