Best Albums Of 2003
1. The Mars Volta, De-Loused in the Comatorium(Universal): A perfect hour’s worth of death-defying, acrobatic saga rock by the most ambitious rookie squad in years.
2. Electric Six – Fire (Beggars XL): Novelty and frivolity reach frighteningly infectious heights on this guilty treasure. Blondie would be jealous.
3. Mastodon – Remission (Relapse): Devastating, kiloton riffage strewn over a battlefield of metal weaponry and felled Nordic warriors. This year’s Reign in Blood.
4. Calexico – Feast of Wire (Quarterstick): Mystery lies around every corner on this Southwestern gem, from Latin and folk flavors to ventures in smooth space rock.
5. Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Arista): That the country’s most creative musical duo is so commercially successful is both a rarity and a blessing.
6. These Arms Are Snakes – This Was Meant to Hurt You EP (Jade Tree): A spotless five-song collection by the latest hopefuls in two-axed noise rock. Propulsive punk with a venomous after bite.
7. Killing Joke – Killing Joke (Zuma/Red Ink): The industrial-punk posse’s hatred of Western government is as white-hot as its latest cartel of Grohl- and Gill-assisted paeans.
8. Pleasure Forever – Alter (Sub Pop): A dark, atonal anomaly on a roster filled with indie bright lights, this is Sub Pop’s most fascinating mutant spawn.
9. The White Stripes – Elephant (V2): Reinventing the same song fourteen times and making each version sound equally precious is the mark of a true genius.
10. Lucinda Williams – World Without Tears (Lost Highway): Williams’ bottomless tales of heartache penetrate the soul with every slow and slurred step she takes.
Reissue: The Who – Who’s Next (MCA): A revelatory swatch of early performances at the Young Vic and pristinely remastered sound bolster classic rock’s finest studio masterstroke.
Originally published as part of RollingStone.com’s “Our Critics Top Albums of 2003” list.