MY FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF THE DECADE
It’s November, middle of autumn, and a time of nostalgia, especially as this year marks the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. The last ten years have been awfully good for music fans. And I didn’t start properly taking an interest in music until at the earliest 2003. Shame on me. But retrospect is a good thing and its been the last few years where I’ve looked back at some of the best albums that I’ve been able to pick the ones that I have for each year. It’s nothing to do with what was popular, critically or chart-wise, but my own favourites. Decisions made by me, and also I’ve collated some lists of friends of mine, for the next post, who share a similiar passion for music. Here’s the choices!
2000: RADIOHEAD – KID A
I didn’t properly get into Radiohead until the release of Thom Yorke’s stellar The Eraser, after that I picked up Kid A from my step-dad, listening to this album definitely made me think about music a lot more deeply and look past the more conventional set up of bands. I just love how this album is set up, the brilliance in the music itself and the sheer nerve or Radiohead to go and make something totally a shift in the opposite direction of what was expected of them. Idioteque is definitely a close second to Reckoner for my favourite Radiohead song ever, its probably their best live track too.
2001: THE STROKES – IS THIS IT?
This is an album that I could probably pick up and listen to at any point in the day/week/month/year, you get the idea. What I’m trying to say is that The Strokes have made an album that is not only one of the best debuts ever, also probably one of the best albums ever made, let alone this decade. Built around solid singles and consistently good tracks, its hard to find a fault, if any, in the album. Last Nite, Someday, Hard To Explain, it contains much too many of my favourite songs ever written to not be included in this list.
2002: THE LIBERTINES – UP THE BRACKET
I love the Libertines, every few months or so there is word of a reform, especially within the british press, the band that would instantly sell out a nationwide tour and are perhaps one of the best british bands of the decade if not ever, their lasting legacy and impact on the indie music scene after two albums and the too many to metion in-quarrels between enigmatic joint frontmen, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat, have made a big impression and any of their subsuqent music projects, with Babyshambles being the most evident and prolific, have gone onto almost instant success. This debut is brilliant. 2002 was a tough choice, not much really came out then, it was either this or Nas’ God’s Son albuim, and after listening to “Vertigo” and “Death on the Stairs” I knew that the Libertines had won out. Fantastic lyricism, sharp and quick guitar hooks that make for charming indie rock songs as well as the odd anthemn with songs like “Time For Heroes” and “Boys In The Band”, this definitely set a precadent and is even better than their subsuqent self-titled follow up in my opinion.
2003: KINGS OF LEON – YOUTH AND YOUNG MANHOOD
This is the album, that started it all. I became obsessed with listening to good music from here on out, Kings of Leon have gone on to disappoint, but look back to the brilliance of their debut album and you can see why they were/are one of the best bands to emerge this decade. The wispy vocals, the sharp guitars, every aspect of each song made this album a classic, for me the only slightly weak track is closer Dusty, but even that is a good song, if you are one of the fools who liked KOL from their last album onwards, do yourself a favour and go and get this now. NOW.
2004: THE FUTUREHEADS – S/T
I chose the futureheads, simply because I remember picking up their album and falling in love with it. It is easily their best work to date, which is rather unfortunate, but nonetheless, they crafted a brilliant post-punk debut that is full of jattery, loud guitars and lovely northern-sounding harmonies with vocals bordering spoken word, not that that is a bad thing though, the way they work together is probably pretty close to the Beatles way of singing, especially evident on lovely single “Hounds of Love” (2005 re-release addition I know, but whos counting) and that cover of Kate Bush’s work not only bettered it, but brought into the indie anthemn’s of this decade. It’s fantastically brilliant. Other highlights, include; “Decent Days and Nights”, “Meantime” and the opener “Le Garage” which has such a bloody good typical english use of broken french in its chorus.
2005: SUFJAN STEVENS – ILLINOIS
Ok, i didn’t actually hear this album till 2008, I’m sorry, but Sufjan is nowhere near as big in the UK, he is fantastic though and by listening to this album, in my opinion the best travelling album, I feel quickly in love with his musical brilliance, it’s an album in which anyone can find something to enjoy, from the sweeping, epic, to the downright soothing and possibly depressing as well as pretty morbid, (John Wayne Gacy, Jr, anyone?) this album has such distinct mix of style, mood and subject that it is impossible not to be impressed, even if the 50 states project was revealed to be probably a joke, this album is one that shows the talent, the amazing talent of Sufjan, his decade long career almost, spearhead by this middle of the road album is a piece of utter brilliance that cannot be missed for any supposed “music lover”
2006: ARCTIC MONKEYS – WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT
I could not ignore this album. What is now one of my favourite albums ever made, one of the highlights of the decade and evident of the change in the music industry in the latter half of this decade is also a fantastic social document of Britain and it’s youth. Listen to the scathing, shallow lyrics, Turner’s voice spitting with a spurned nature, as if not he himself an outcast but his generation as a whole and surely the next ones to come after that. As soon as this album opens with the impressive drum skills of chavviest band memeber ever, Matt Helders, on “The View From The Afternoon”, the songs flow into their gloomy, pessimistic, teenage stance, that hundreds of bands have now tried to copy. They did it originally, and with lyrics like the ones on this debut, they have not been matched or dare I day it, match their own debut.
2007: RADIOHEAD – IN RAINBOWS
Sorry, but I couldn’t help choose Radiohead twice, if Kid A was more a retrospective choice of what was actually good that year, In Rainbows is a choice I made because once I got this album and began to listen to it, I was enthralled. I loved it, every second of listening to it. It was like some own personal discovery for myself as well because it was music that transcended music to be more a state of art and beauty, just fantastic. The way they released it was just convienent, paying nothing was a joy, but that the music itself was as great as it is, makes me go back to this nearly two year old album again and again, I love Radiohead, and their brilliance, live they are just as fantastic, and they have encapsulated this decade for me, with this album, it’s perfect.
2008: METRONOMY – NIGHTS OUT
I love this, I think it’s kind of an odd choice seeing as I first picked Girl Talk as my favourite last year, but that album is so, uh, boring? after the umpteen listen, I love the whole mashup thing, but kind of look on it and think, this is immature and stupid, and I don’t enjoy it like I did, so Metronomy steps in to save the day. Out of all the albums released last year, this is the one I always go back to, always listen to it, it represents 2008 for me in a great way, all the fun/heartbreak/new people etc etc, it was an odd year, but it’s cool, now, looking back. I enjoyed it. Songs like “Heartbreaker” and “My Heart Rate Rapid” are just fantastic and that epic intro itself, leading into “The End of You Too”, I think I kind of slated this album originallly, but I actually adore it now and every little nuisance about it, kind of melted away, as a whole it is fantastic, you can nitpick it all you want but this album to me, signifies a great time of my life. It’s well teenage init?
2009: WAVVES – WAVVVES
This year, I have to go with Wavves, not because I’m some kind of hipster who buys into fads but because I genuinely LOVE this album, yeah it’s distort as FUCK, but who cares? Nathan Williams, he sings from the heart, making anthemns about teenage life, the simplicity of it, the innocence and sense of belonging to, while smoking the obligatory spliff and skating/surfing the west coast. or so that is the picture it paints. The music itself, all recorded by Williams, shows at least promise and a good level of musical ability that althought distorted and crackly still shines through, the sheer under-production which seems to be more than just a lack of effort also makes it excitingly cool. It’s surfer-easy-punk, but that stuff just makes it real listenable for me, easy to understand and to dance to and also to appreciate. Those who slate it just should take a step back and look and think, this is an idealised view on teenage life, don’t take it so seriously!