(15) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, "The Pains of Being Pure at Heart" (Slumberland)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart did little to distance themselves from Slumberland's tradition of jangly shoegaze pop tunes about (often unrequited) romantic longing. No need to tweak; by delivering 10 songs this strong, they showed why the tradition was so beloved to begin with.
(14) Future of the Left, "Travels With Myself and Another" (4AD)
Two-thirds of McLusky turned in a fair substitute for that band's fourth album that never was. Over a Pixies-meets-Shellac blitzkrieg, Andy Falkous continues to obnoxiously take down his frenemies (this time, "Rick" gets skewered), make weird puns ("Stand By Your Manatee") and instigate for instigation's sake ("You Need Satan More Than He Needs You").
(13) The Raveonettes, "In and Out of Control" (Vice)
By now, nobody should be surprised to hear these great Danes playing retro bubblegum anthems with Jesus and Mary Chain jangle and club-ready sleekness. But to witness them graduating to greater heights with each subsequent release is as much of a shock as a delight.
(12) Neon Indian, "Psychic Chasms" (Lefse)
I didn't buy into this whole "chillwave" craze until long after summer's last gasps of warmth had dissipated, but when I finally dove into Neon Indian's drug-polluted oceans, "Psychic Chasms" seemed like a lovely portal back to those lazier, more comfortable months.
(11) Grizzly Bear, "Veckatimest" (Warp)
Veckatimest drags in the middle, making it one of the year's slight letdowns. But its peaks are among prim-and-proper pop's greatest heights. "Two Weeks" and "Cheerleader" are the musical equivalent of smoking-hot debutantes, while tracks like "Southern Point" and "While You Wait For the Others" hit pretty hard coming from a band known for its exquisite politeness.