Pitchfork’s 30 Best Dream Pop Albums

What’s This Playlist All About? The venerable music site ranks the chillest, haziest, and, of course dreamiest indie albums of all time—or at least those with a vague sense of “atmosphere, intimacy, and a light coating of psychedelia.”

What You Get: An airy assortment of breathy, often angelic vocals, floating atop sumptuous layers of soporific sound. As its name implies, “dream pop” doesn’t have any sort of concrete meaning or even unifying song structure, a truth even Pitchfork owns up to. Still, something intangible, ethereal, maybe even mystical, links these artists together, from the undisputed originators Cocteau Twins, who easily take the No. 1 spot with Heaven or Las Vegas, to their respected disciples Beach House (who also nab two spots). In between, the mood subtly shifts; the dark noir of Julee Cruise slips into the colorful pop of Atlas Sound, while the ambient melancholy of Grouper gives way to the euphoric nostalgia of M83 and the sultry twang of Mazzy Star and Mojave 3.

Best Surprise: The inclusion of Brightblack Morning Light, especially their featured track—the slinky, druggy doozy “Everybody Daylight”—which has always managed to slip under the radar.  

What Did They Miss? Their “conscious decision to not include records that wound up on our Best Shoegaze Albums list—even though shoegaze and dream pop have, at times, been used interchangeably,” kind of messes with the playlist listening experience. Thing is, we don’t care what’s on the shoegaze list when we’re listening to the dream pop one, so to not include certain “shoegaze” standards like, say, MBV or Slowdive or bands like Pale Saints and Seefeel, feels slightly off. There’s also plenty of people noting the absence of Cocteau Twins’ Treasure.