Like many of the bands that make it into the annual flurry of Top 10 lists, consensus itself may be a bit overrated. This was a year without a central nation-galvanizing album — and last year’s, Adele’s “21,” was the highest-selling this year, too. Without an obvious album of the year, critics can enjoy a more free-roaming diet.
Suffice it to say, it was a filling year. Our picks for the year’s best albums come from the tip-top of the charts and the very edges of the underground, representing rock, folk, electronic, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, classical, world music, and all the hybrids in between.