My belated and self indulgent Top 10 Albums of the Decade

This is the first list thing I’ve done, and will probably be my last.  I was inspired to have a go at compiling a list of my favourite albums of the last ten years after reading a very good top ten on Peter Guy’s  ‘Get into this’ blog on the Liverpool Echo site.  Problem was, the list grew from ten, to fifteen, to twenty.  Then I got a bit overwhelmed at the task of writing a bit about each.  So I gave up.  Then I decided I’d have another go, but cut it right down again, which was a slow and painful process (like reading this little preamble).

So, here it is. My totally self indulgent top ten albums of the naughties, in chronological order, replete with music journo-style spiels on each record (why do I always lapse into this language when writing about music?)

1 The Strokes – Is This It (2000)
An obvious choice perhaps, and if I was to be picky I’d chose the first E.P. over the album, but this band did blow my tiny 20-year-old mind with a spiky and focused wakeup call to the jowly indie bands of the UK.

2 The Streets – Original Pirate Material (2002)
The first few seconds of sampled strings and boxy two-step beats of Turn the Page had me hooked instantly.  I couldn’t believe so much was possible with a 500 quid multitrack sampler.  I suppose it proves that necessity is the mother of invention, and Mike Skinner had reinvented British urban music in an instant.

3 American Analog Set – Promise of Love (2003)
Simply a beautiful sounding album which blends Krautrock with U.S college rock with sublime subtlety and taste.  Stand out track for me is Come Home Baby Julie, Come Home which is so great it only needs one lyric, and has the only and therefore best Rhodes/Vibes breakdown I’ve ever heard.

4 Herman Dune – Mas Cambios (2003)
Similar to the above, Mas Cambios stands out for me as being full of great songs written by a criminally underrated band.   This most distilled version of their country-folk-pop vision is blessed with one irresistible hook after the other, whether played on Duelling Recorders or Ukulele.

5 Hot Chip – Coming On Strong (2004)
I don’t think I listened to another album this year, which says a lot about how much I loved this.  Despite going a bit Postal Service for the last few songs, the first two thirds of this breakthrough album more than make up for it.  Using only the best 80’s reference points and bringing them into naughties London, songs like Crap Kraft Dinner somehow manage to fuse the lo-fi frailty of Robert Wyatt, with warm fuzzy electro.

6 Arcade Fire – Funeral (2005)
I thought the second album sounded like Bruce Springsteen’s nightmare, on wax, but this one I loved.  Like a deeper, darker, more honed and determined version of the Polyphonic Spree ‘orchestra in a band’ plan, this record is the sound of a string quartet out-heavying the heaviest of metal.  Like most of the albums on the list, Funeral sounds and feels like a coherent and well structured piece of music.

7 Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)
Helped somewhat by seeing the entire album played start to finish at an amazing gig at the Manchester Opera House, I was borderline obsessed with this album for a short time.  Take Blur circa Think Tank, lose the cheese fop and the nice-but-who drummer and replace them with production genius Danger Mouse, and you have a recipe for purest pop funk magic.  It’s DARE!

8 The Knife – Silent Shout (2006)
This record was on constant rotation as I commuted to and from a terrifying school placement in darkest Widnes, where my cold winter days seemed to pass in total and bleakest darkness.  Perhaps, in hindsight, this dark, eccentric, other-worldly album wasn’t the best soundtrack to a difficult time.  Personal baggage aside, The Knife still managed to make some of the most bewildering, arty electro pop I’ve heard.

9 Field Music – Tones of Town (2007)
I admire Field Music so much.  They have their own studio and label up in Sunderland, and self-release consistently brilliant and inventive music.  You discover something new on each listen in their intricate and quirky pop vision.  Painfully self-effacing and modest, this band of brothers and others sing like they mean it, and I believe them.
10 Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
With bona fide classic albums like The Bends and OK Computer in their past, there was no way I was expecting this.  One of my favourite albums ever, this is a mind-bendingly perfect piece of work.  It’s as if their entire lives were building to this point.  Thom Yorke’s vocals are more beautiful than ever, but the rhythm section is the revelation here, channelling the stripped down and primal hardness of Can’s Jaki and Holger and creating a driving force for the rest of the music to float and flow over like a big musical waterbed.  Or something.

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