Friday 31 January 2020

My Top 50 Favourite Albums of the 2010s

The 2010s – the decade of Tinder, Tesla, Bitcoin, Brexit, Covfefe and Harambe – is over. All the music blogs and vlogs have been rounding up their top albums of the decade. I thought I’d get in on the action by publishing a list of my personal favourites.

Making this list was a lot trickier than I anticipated. Since starting this blog in 2013, there have been hundreds of albums that I’ve praised on this blog. I could have done a top 100 list, but ain’t nobody got time for that. I could have done a top 20 list, but that would mean leaving out so many great albums that I thought were worth a mention. So eventually, I settled on a list of my top 50 favourite albums.

I’ve supplied small descriptions of each album for those that care. Feel free to let me know what your favourite albums were! Which albums did I miss?

50 - 41

50. Altered State – Tesseract (2013)

British prog metal band Tesseract prove metal can be beautiful with their stunning mix of djent and ambience.

49. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? – Billie Eilish (2019)

Young pop star Billie Eilish releases one of the quirkiest mainstream pop records of the decade while delivering a lyrical maturity beyond her years

48. Neo Wax Bloom – Iglooghost (2017)

Electronic producer Iglooghost constructs some of the most detailed and frantic IDM tracks I’ve ever heard.

47. Diamond Eyes – Deftones (2010)

Alternative metal act Deftones lay seductive lyrics over some of their heaviest and exciting instrumentation to date.

46. L’Enfant Sauvage – Gojira (2012)

French metal band Gojira deliver a deliciously heavy but oddly melodic mix of creative chugging riffs and poetic lyrics.

45. GT Ultra – Guerilla Toss (2017)

Loopy dance-punk band Guerilla Toss tone down the noisiness and romp up the cartoonishness for a fun and genre-bending record.

44. The Idler Wheel – Fiona Apple (2012)

Witty singer-songwriter Fiona Apple composes a selection of personal and piano-driven songs that are full of rich imagery and raw emotion.

43. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens (2015)

Indie-folk artist Sufjan Stevens strips back the instrumentation for a raw and moving exploration of grief following the death of his mother.

42. Django Django – Django Django (2012)

British art rock group Django Django mix psychedelia, electronica and surf-rock for a captivatingly unique sound.

41. Flower Boy – Tyler, The Creator (2017)

Alternative hip hop artist Tyler, The Creator opens up about his feeling and sexuality over some of his most intricately jazzy production.

40 - 31

40. The Church – Mr Oizo (2014)

Wacky French producer Mr Oizo delivers a series of challengingly discordant but weirdly thrilling EDM instrumentals.

39. Limeade – Ehiorobo (2016)

Kooky singer/producer Ehiorobo releases a humorous and inventive mix of neo-soul and art-rap - it may be the most underrated album of the decade.

38. Until The Quiet Comes – Flying Lotus (2012)

Electronic-jazz producer Flying Lotus delivers this psychedelic album themed around sleep that shifts between gorgeously dreamy and freakishly nightmarish.

37. MBV – My Bloody Valentine (2013)

Shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine drop their first album in 22 years and continue to push the boundaries of their woozy reverb-drenched rock style.

36. The Wake – Voivod (2018)

Prog-thrash veterans Voivod deliver a speedy space-themed riff-fest that is packed with off-kilter ideas.

35. Sweetener – Ariana Grande (2018)

The iconic pop singer remains inspiringly positive in the face of personal tragedy with a selection of her most upbeat and soulful tracks.

34. Boarding House Reach – Jack White (2018)

Ex-singer/guitarist of White Stripes delivers one of the most adventurous rock records of the decade, integrating elements of electronica and hip hop.

33. Awaken, My Love – Childish Gambino (2016)

Actor and rapper Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) proves that he’s also as talented and dynamic a singer on this phenomenal old-skool-flavoured soul record.

32. Lonerism – Tame Impala (2012)

Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala serve up some of their most gorgeous instrumentation and some of their most introspective lyrics.  

31. Product – SOPHIE (2015)

Experimental electronic producer SOPHIE throws together a series of brilliantly bizarre bangers that alternate between cute and menacing.

30 – 21

30.  Me - Empress of (2015)

Avant-r&b singer Empress Of delves deep into relationship troubles over some fun and innovative self-produced beats.

29. The Terror – The Flaming Lips (2013)

Experimental rock group The Flaming Lips deliver this hellishly trippy album that lives up to its name.

28. It’s Album Time – Todd Terje (2014)

Norwegian disco producer Todd Terje releases a selection of slick and glitzy dance instrumentals that are impossible not to move to.

27. Are You Satisfied? – Slaves (2015)

Punk duo Slaves bring back a sense of primal urgency to rock on their loud and catchy debut.  

26. Angles – The Strokes (2011)

Indie rock legends The Strokes return after a long hiatus with a much more eclectic and dance-worthy sound.

25. Cocoa Sugar – Young Fathers (2018)

Scottish alternative hip hop group Young Fathers fine-tune their eccentric bubbly sound with some of the tightest songwriting of their career.

24. Benji – Sun Kil Moon (2014)

Singer-songwriter Sun Kil Moon lays bare the tragedies in his life, taking the listener on a wild journey that is both sad, comical and even uplifting at points.

23. 100% Electronica – George Clanton (2015)

Vaporwave producer and singer George Clanton delivers moody lyrics over some of the dreamiest synths you’ll ever hear.

22. The Money Store – Death Grips (2012)

Experimental hip hop group Death Grips push musical boundaries with their noisy beats and barked vocals while still managing to inject a catchiness into each song.

21. 99.9% - Kaytranada (2016)

Haitian-Canadian producer Kaytranada drops a gauntlet of glossy EDM bangers accompanied by some impressive guest vocal performances.

20 – 11

20. Atrocity Exhibition – Danny Brown (2016)

Lovable squawking rapper Danny Brown explores the darker side of his party god persona backed by some truly experimental beats.

19. Settle – Disclosure (2013)

UK EDM duo Disclosure deliver some of the best house tracks of the decade with the help of some incredible vocal guests.

18. All My Heroes Are Cornballs - JPEGMAFIA (2019)

Eccentric hip hop artist JPEGMAFIA takes his avant-garde production style to new frenetic levels while delivering humorously provocative bars on everything from guns to gender.

17. Igor – Tyler, the Creator (2019)

Tyler, the Creator trades in hip hop for soul on this sprawling breakup-themed album, displaying some of his most mature lyrics and vibrant production to date.

16. Cuz I Love You – Lizzo (2019)

Flamboyant pop singer Lizzo celebrates body positivity with a collection of relentlessly fun and hi-octane R&b, soul and hip hop tracks. My favourite album of 2019.

15. The Electric Lady – Janelle Monae (2013)

Funk and R&b artist Janelle Monae delivers a cinematic album that delves into an array of retro styles, while tackling topics of race and gender.  

14. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (2013)

Mean-spitting rappers Killer Mike and El-P deliver their debut as duo Run the Jewels, trading speedy flows and witty disses. My favourite album of 2013.

13. Plastic Beach – Gorillaz (2010)

Damon Albarn’s animated alt hip hop group Gorillaz tackle the ever-growing issue of the environment while accompanied by some big guests on this early-decade release.

12. Sacred White Noise – Thantifaxath (2014)

Canadian black metal act Thantifaxath deliver an impressively creative and utterly harrowing array of tracks on my favourite metal album of the decade.

11. A Crow Looked At Me – Mount Eerie (2017)

Singer-songwriter Phil Elverum (aka Mount Eerie) delivers what may be the most heartwrenchingly sad album of all time as he explores the grief following the death of his wife in graphic detail. My favourite album of 2017.

10 – 1

10. Joy As An Act of Resistance – Idles (2018)

UK punk group Idles fight intolerance with aggressive love on their loud and raw second album. They may well be this generation’s most important rock band.

9. Bottomless Pit – Death Grips (2016)

Avant-garde hip hop group Death Grips deliver their most catchy and equally most abrasive album. They push their sound so far that they practically invent their own genre.

8. Clppng – Clipping (2014)

Experimental noise/rap group Clipping offer impressively creative beats, impressively fast flows and impressively vivid storytelling. Needless to say, it’s an impressive album.

7. Glass Swords – Rustie (2011)

Electronic producer Rustie delivers an eclectic range of bubbly dance tracks that are as inventive as they are feelgood. I feel like I’ve returned to this album every month since its release – it’s that good!

6. Ta13oo – Denzel Curry (2018)

Florida rapper Denzel Curry releases what may be the most fun hip hop album of the decade, varying up his flow and delivering some killer hooks, while exploring themes of mental illness.  My favourite album of 2018.

5. We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest (2016)

Hip hop veterans A Tribe Called Quest use their sixth and final album to say farewell to fans while paying tribute to member Phife Dawg (who died during recording), as well as tackling an array of social issues affecting black America. Not only does it feel incredibly deep and current, but it’s also incredibly fun – sporting plenty of playful bars and adventurous beats. My favourite album of 2016.

4. St Vincent – St Vincent (2014)

Art rock/pop musician St Vincent combines pop, rock and electronica into a sophisticated fusion. The lyrics and instrumentation are at times utterly bizarre, but the album also feels fun and endearingly straightforward. My favourite album of 2014.

3. To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar (2015)

Revered rapper Kendrick Lamar delivers an album that is vast in every possible aspect. The subject matter dives deep into race, class and sex and Kendrick’s delivery is extraordinarily dynamic. The beats consist of complex and cinematic jazz scores and every guest feature seems to enrich the album. My favourite album of 2015 and my favourite rap album of the decade.

2. Galaxy Garden – Lone (2012)

UK electronic producer Lone composes some of the most fun and sugary electronic instrumentals ever recorded. The synths are bright and nostalgia-soaked and the percussion is fast and intricately multi-layered. It’s my favourite electronic album of the decade.

1. Channel Orange – Frank Ocean (2012)

Frank Ocean delivers what I think is one of the best R&B albums of all time. His storytelling and poetry skills are exceptional. He also delivers some spectacular vocal performances as on ‘Bad Religion’, while backed by some incredibly diverse - and at times progressive - production (as on ‘Pyramids’). It’s also an incredibly personal album that delves into childhood nostalgia while also opening up about his sexuality. My top 5 albums are all a close call – but I think this record just edges it as my album of the decade.