20 Best Pop Albums of 2014

From Taylor Swift’s platinum victory to Kitten’s under-the radar triumph, the year in huge hooks

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Kimbra, 'The Golden Echo'
20
9/20

9. Kimbra, 'The Golden Echo'

In a year when pop radio became increasingly defined by its own tunnel vision, the second full-length by the New Zealand-born singer Kimbra (a former chart-topper via her turn as Gotye's "Somebody I Used To Know" foil) was refreshing for the way it leaned increasingly outward, bringing slinky disco ("Miracle"), icy glitch ("90s Music") and sultry R&B together in the name of finding pop transcendence. The Golden Echo's hard left turns and buried production treasures — not to mention the assists from the R&B polymath Bilal and the pop savant Van Dyke Parks — show that there's still uncharted territory left in pop, and that Kimbra is more than willing to take a fantastic voyage in order to find it. M.J.

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