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The ADM Top 10 2014

The most acclaimed albums of the year: you can't argue with mathematics

Now everyone's had their say with the Best Albums of 2014 roundups, it's time to take stock of the cold hard facts of what really were the most critically-acclaimed albums over the past 12 months.

The AnyDecentMusic top 10 of 2014 is the most reliable guide to what earned the most extensive overall praise from reviewers. It's the widest survey of worldwide critical opinion around, and you can't argue with mathematics.

We have excluded from the rankings any albums with fewer than 10 reviews from our list of 50 sources from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Ireland, and the formula we apply to arrive at the ADM rating takes the number of reviews into account.

Below, we give our analysis of what it all means.

 

9.10

D'Angelo And The Vanguard
Black Messiah

The album would be vital in any time, but in 2014, it's downright restorative - Slant

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8.60

St Vincent
St Vincent

Bold, poised, precise without sounding sterile, St Vincent seems to be a straightforward triumph - The Guardian

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8.56

Swans
To be Kind

A unique and compelling piece of work that doesn't resort to clichés of any kind - The Arts Desk

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8.49

FKA Twigs
Lp1

Few debuts possess such control and ambition all in one; LP1 is the rare album that manages to sound both lived in and completely futuristic - AV Club

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8.41

Flying Lotus
You're Dead!

As each song merges into the next, as one style succeeds another, the sensation is that of being in a dream - The Guardian

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8.39

The War On Drugs
Lost In The Dream

It's a tender, inviting, consoling, comforting record that you'll play again and again (stoned or not). In short, Lost In The Dream is perfect in every way - musicOMH


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8.38

Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels 2

Sounding like nothing else and answering to nobody but its creators, Run the Jewels 2 is in a class by itself - Pitchfork

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8.35

Perfume Genius
Too Bright

Full of avant-garde pop delights - Earbuddy

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8.30

Aphex Twin
Syro

Pretty much flawless - Drowned In Sound

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8.27

Sharon Van Etten
Are We There

One of the most vivid, involving, troubling albums about the trials of love in recent memory - Drowned In Sound

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And the next 10

11. The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave
12. Leonard Cohen - Popular Problems
13. Pallbearer- Foundations Of Burden
14. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness
15. East India Youth - Total Strife Forever
16. Fennesz - Bécs
17. Shellac - Dude Incredible
18. A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Atomos
19. Wild Beasts - Present tense
20. Young Fathers - Dead

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With one blindingly obvious exception, 2014 has seen what we reckon to be the greatest degree of consistency between the ratings accorded to the year's most acclaimed albums on their release and the end-of-year summing up which constitutes the ADM Poll of Polls.

There's some shuffling of positions, but the cast of artists and bands assembled in our ADM top 10 is uncannily similar to that featured in the Poll of Polls. This is far from guaranteed; in fact last year only two of the ADM top 10 albums figured in the end-of-year top 10 rankings.

So you could conclude that the critics got it right first time round: the albums given the highest ratings when they came out have survived with their reputations intact after sustained exposure to a wider audience.

There are of course some eye-opening discrepancies. Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems attracted the 12th highest rating but featured nowhere in the Poll of Polls top 50; likewise Pallbearer's Foundations of Burden at No.13.

But what of D'Angelo And The Vanguard's Black Messiah? Released in mid-December and thus too late for any of our sources to consider in their end-of-year favourites, it is currently our all-time top-rated album and looks unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.

There have been a good few comments to the effect that Black Messiah negates the value of the Poll of Polls. We disagree. Music publications both print and digital need time to assemble and publish their year-end reflections and the alternative is to wait until well into January before making any conclusions - by which time we are far too busy looking forward to what treats are coming our way in the current year.

And it does validate the ADM top 10 - D'Angelo has without question made THE album of 2014.

At the same time, there's probably not much debate about what's going to top the Poll of Polls list for 2015. If it's not Black Messiah, we are very much looking forward to hearing the album that eclipses it.

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