I’ve seen a few people worried about average user scores for the top albums of the year. Namely that it seems like the top albums are getting lower scores each year.
Just to throw some numbers at this, the average user score for the top 5 of each year since 2010 (as of 2020/12/24):
2010 - 86.8
2011 - 86.6
2012 - 87.6
2013 - 85.0
2014 - 86.4
2015 - 86.8
2016 - 87.4
2017 - 85.2
2018 - 84.8
2019 - 84.0
2020 - 82.8
Besides the slight anomaly of 2013, the average stays above 86.0, until a real dip that only happens in the last few years.
My hypothesis is that as time goes on we are kinder to older albums, even as recent as just 5 years ago. Most people only go back and rate/review the albums they know they’ll like and as such a previously weak average score gets raised over the course of a few years.
I personally remember when the top 2 albums of 2016 were Blonde at 87 and Atrocity Exhibition at 86. They are both now at 89.
We can even see the reverse of this in 2020 at 82.8, which is a significant step lower than the next lowest score 84.0 in 2019.
Basically I’m saying I’m not too worried about the scores dipping. While there will always be stronger and weaker years, the dip seems to be some sort of negative recency bias. After 5 or so years things will begin to even out and hopefully any bias will have been tempered off.