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The 50 Best Albums of 2014 | 20 - 11

The Bug, Clark, Chet Faker and Todd Terje earn their places near the top of the heap.

20. The Bug | Angels and Devils [Ninja Tune]

Kevin Martin (The Bug) has said that his ulterior motive when making music is to permanently alter your consciousness through sound. On Angels and Demons—his first release in six years—Martin comes pretty damn close. The album is neatly divided into two parts. The first, a more restrained and ethereal string of collaborations with Liz Harris of Grouper, Copeland, and Miss Red. The second, a hysterical assault with the weapons of grime, dancehall, and dubstep. (Two songs in this section are called "Fuck a Bitch" and "Fuck You.") Scorchers come to those who wait. -ML


19. Röyksopp & Robyn | Do It Again [Dog Triumph]

After previous collaborations, notably Rökysopp's "The Girl and the Robot," the Norwegian duo and Swedish pop star effectively made this EP as an excuse to tour together. That tour became an extension of gay pride celebrations across North America this past summer, even as most of this EP is less dance party and more emotive musical prose. The title track somehow packs an air-punching intensity into otherwise innocuous lyrics at the centerpiece of this collection, bookended by two ambitious (and lengthy) opuses that both captivate and enrapture. At a mere 35 minutes, it's over all too quickly but brevity, perhaps, enhances Do It Again's appeal, drawing in listeners who know this kind of collab is a rare and special thing and in Röyksopp's case a penultimate act. -ZM

18. Little Dragon | Nabuma Rubberband [Because]

Since their first release in 2006, Swedish quartet Little Dragon has consistently serenaded our ears with a delicious blend of breathtaking vocal work (via vibrant frontwoman Yukimi Nagono) paired with a unique brand of engrossing, and occasionally icy, electronic rhythms. For their highly-anticipated fourth studio album, Nabuma Rubberband, the group turns up the soul for one of their most tantalizing offerings yet, channeling everything from Prince and Janet Jackson to sprinklings of oozy 90s trip-hop. The album even scored the gang a Grammy nom for Best Dance/Electronic Album, affirming for many that this is Little Dragon's best work yet. -DG


17. Basement Jaxx | Junto [Atlantic Jaxx/PIAS]

In the 15 years since Basement Jaxx's debut album, Remedy, the world of electronic music has changed less than we might think. Case in point, the UK duo's sixth album, the independently released Junto, relies on the same tropes of their first: Catchy hooks, breakdowns and plenty of weirdness in between. Like each of their albums, this one starts with a rollick, barging into the room with armfuls of beats and treats. It's the embrace of sonic oddity amid pop savvy that has defined the Jaxx sound and on Junto it plays out most joyfully. Cuts like "Unicorn" and "Mermaid of Salinas" are world parties on interplanetary beaches. After two decades together, Basement Jaxx is still a band unafraid to have fun but far too smart to be insipid. -ZM

16. Todd Terje | It's Album Time [Olsen Records]

Todd Terje has been showering us with his Swedish wizardry for years, but somehow never got it all down on a proper full length LP. In 2014, that changed, when he finally unleashed the long awaited It's Album Time. Seamlessly organized and packed with his beloved modus operandi of lighthearted, breezy, synthy jams, it's one of those albums that once it hooks you, you never want to end. (And if you keep that tropical beverage filled to the brim, it might never have to.) It's got previously released singles like "Inspector Norse"  and "Strandbar" and some other fresh cuts, like the glossy tropi-anthem "Delorean Dynamite." Don't try to act like you can resist smiling to this one. Todd wouldn't want you to. -DG


15. ODESZA | In Return [Counter Records]

The Seattleite duo's second full-length since bursting into the limelight in 2012 finds them further honing their immediately distinct aesthetic: The beats are hip-hop, the vocals are all pop, the tones are electronic, and the vibes are immensely uplifting. Tracks like "Say My Name" featuring young British songstress Zyra and "All We Need" with Portland-based singer Shy Girls bring dancefloor vibes with heaps of sugar and, in doing so, have likely become the soundtrack to countless freshman year dorm room make out sessions. Not a bad distinction. -JK

14. Simian Mobile Disco | Whorl  [Simian Mobile Disco]

Simian Mobile Disco continued their ongoing assault on convention in dance music by recording Whorl, live, in a veritable ghost town just outside of Joshua Tree, CA this past summer. The album, made entirely with analog synthesizers, floats in ambience before coming to life in vibrant techno-color. Tracks like "Hypnick Jerk" and "Jam Side Up" find Simian at their lofty best, but the record sits effortlessly well as a whole as it peaks and troughs. The duo are unassailable in the sphere of live indie-techno, in a desert ghost town of their own making to be sure.  -JK

13. Clark | Clark [Warp]

"More Berghain than Guggenheim" is how Clark's longtime label, Warp, described his latest and more theatrical release to date. While it's obvious that Clark's pulverizing techno would sound most at home in the Berlin club's cold, concrete walls, there are plentiful moments of poetic, quasi-narrative beauty to be found on the album too. This is most clear on the opening track, "Ship is Flooding," where gothic organs and braying horns conjure a cataclysmic capsizing. Whether you're stomping through the club or lying in bed with headphones on, Clark gives you what you need without asking for too much of a commitment. -ML


12: Chet Faker | Built On Glass [Future Classic]

 is the studio equivalent of a Sunday afternoon spent alone in your apartment. It's the somber grilling of a cheese sandwich and the wistful sighing out a raindrop-coated window. It's also Chet Faker's introduction to a wider North American audience and a summation of all the raw emotion his fans have come to love him for. On , the Australian producer's full-length first studio album, he proved that he has what it takes to deliver something simultaneously coherent and compelling, something relatable and yet distant at the same time. It's a timeless ode to loves lost to be cherished for the rest of its days. -ZR

11: Tourist | Patterns EP [Monday Records]

Tourist's four-track (plus one remix) Patterns EP will be remembered for years as the formative point in his musical career. It broke away from the formulaic, familiar song structures that he'd depended on during early his rise in popularity as part of the Disclosure scene and carved out a new sound for the London-based artist. The enormous success of "I Can't Keep Up," in which it became one of the year's most played tracks in dance music, paved the way for emotional follow-ups "Patterns," "Trust In You," and "Together." Yes, he also co-wrote Sam Smith's monster "Stay With Me," but it's the Patterns EP that separated Tourist from the throngs of vocal-driven house artists and showed the world just how much the artist is capable of in the future. -ZR

Words by THUMP staff: Zel McCarthyJemayel KhawajaMichelle LhooqDavid GarberZiad Ramley and Joel Fowler.

The 50 Best Albums of 2014 | No. 50 - 41 | No. 40 - 31 | No. 30 - 21 | No. 20 - 11 | No. 10 - 1