The Decade’s Defining Albums


Hey, guess what? It’s another copy-cat post. Gorilla vs. Bear made an elegant and understated post about their 20 favourite albums of the decade. They had Person Pitch at number one, which is not that unexpected and totally within the realms of acceptability given that it is a sort of unifying record for a certain type of music listener, and influential to boot. But I don’t think Person Pitch is the best album of the last decade. I can name two albums Panda Bear played on that are better than Person Pitch, in my mind.

I had the arguments about this in real life, and I’ll have more. But I have a blog, so why not do my own post? Much like GvsB’s list, this is not so much a pure, personal preference-based thing, and neither is it a hewn-in-stone “most influential” canon-type thing.

It’s a mix. The albums that defined the decade for me, the albums I listened to on repeat and the albums that were always on at parties. The albums I queued to buy when they came out, and the albums that I found through friends, and found friends through. There are 25. Here they are:

1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion (review)
2. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (review)
3. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary
4. Arcade Fire – Funeral
5. Radiohead – Hail to the Thief
6. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
7. Radiohead – Kid A
8. Animal Collective -Strawberry Jam (review)
9. Jay-Z – The Black Album
10. Interpol – Antics
11. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend (review)
12. Panda Bear – Person Pitch (review)
13. The Strokes – Is This It?
14. Grizzly Bear – Yellow House
15. Battles – Mirrorred (review)
16. Beirut – Gulag Orkestar
17. The White Stripes – Elephant
18. MIA – Kala
19. Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles
20. Radiohead – In Rainbows (review)
21. Animal Collective – Feels
22. Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People
23. Liars – Drum’s Not Dead
24. Postal Service – Give Up
25. Deerhoof – Milk Man


13 responses to “The Decade’s Defining Albums

  1. Fairly thorough list. Missing some great ones though (in my opiníone)
    Why? – Alopecia (or Elephant Eyelash)
    Odd Nosdam – Burner
    The Microphones – The Glow pt. 2
    blur – Think Tank
    The Books – Lost and safe
    Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise
    Islands – Return to the sea

    I’d think those are some of the best albums of the decade (that aren’t in your list), whether they defined it or not is arguable.

  2. Alopecia and Elephant Eyelash I think would be in ahead of stuff like Antics or Give Up for me, and Alopecia would probably be in the top five or ten if it was purely a favourites thing. But I’m not sure how to explain what I was doing – I suppose albums that really evoke memories of the time when they came out and I was listening to them all the time, or at least my friends were.

    Blur is a good one that I didn’t think of, and I was definitely considering Illinoise. Was never into the others you mentioned. Spotify time.

  3. My list would go:

    The Wrens – The Meadowlands.

    Everything else.

  4. I agree with 60% of this list. this list gets a C from me.

  5. Mirrored and VW would be the only two on that list that I own, and listen to (as distinct to downloaded and relegated to a dusty corner of my hard drive… I sold my CD copy of Kid A… was that even this decade?)

    not criticising your list, especially as I can see how it fits with your tastes as expressed in the blog, but just saying that there’s a whole decade of era-defining music that I don’t buy into. not like it’s the 80s and full of synth-pop while I’m listening to Black Flag, or likewise the 90s and grunge, but that modern alternative music is so heterogenous that it’s peculiarly resistible.

    if I did a list though, I’d probably put Dan Deacon (either Bromst or Spiderman of the Rings), Dinosaur Jr (even though having a reformed band would be a little strange…again, either album), Mclusky Do Dallas and maybe the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on it.

  6. Sold your CD copy of Kid A?! Shocking.

    I actually don’t really like that the list can be read as a locus for the taste as expressed in the blog… I’d like to think that I spend a bit more time further to the fringes than the list implies. But I suppose I just discursively constructed me a view of the identity of a decade, so what can you do.

    As a side-point, I own 14 including one promo in physical format, which is weird to think about.

  7. Surprised you didn’t include Sunset Rubdown.
    or some irish release just for the heck of it.The Immediate?
    possible changes, replace vampire weekend with the unicorns.Andrew Bird?Fiery Furnaces?I dont really listen to the latter but they’d seem like an influential band to the last decade.
    Maybe discovery by daft punk.Joanna Newsom?Sigur Ros?
    Overall the top ten is pretty solid, except for maybe one.
    I would’ve also put in ‘Sattanic Panic In The Attic’

  8. Have to say that I find some of the language used in these comments a little frustrating. There’s no right or wrong with these lists, there’s only like or dislike.

    Sorry, off topic I know and patently, skull crushingly obvious but it’s a little bugbear of mine.

  9. Ian, I’m absolutely on-board with you on that. These are just the things that seemed right.

    Seany, they’re not my favourite albums of the decade. I didn’t include Sunset Rubdown, Why?, other Of Montreal albums, Amnesiac, Ys, Milk-Eyed Mender or loads of other stuff (though Milk-Eyed Mender especially could have been there) because they didn’t seem like the right sort of decade-defining album to me.

    Elephant Eyelash or Sunlandic Twins or Random Spirit Lover would take defending, I think, whereas Kala, Is This It? and Funeral live in a sort of semi-canonised headspace. Everyone’s familiar with everything on this, or at least they know people who like the albums.

    Including an Irish release for the heck of it is something I try to avoid doing also, as a rule.

  10. I thought it was albums that summed up the decade for you, not for music.

  11. Bit of both.

  12. My feelings…
    The Eminem Marshall Mathers EP feels like a real important album of the decade to me. I loved it when it came out, and it seemed like the whole zeitgeist was turning around it for a while.

    What else? The Strokes debut certainly had a similar effect…they spawned so much that happened after them and it is a practically flawless example of the all killer, no filler guitar album that was just about replicated in execution by Vampire Weekend. Others that are more personal.

    Fennesz – Endless Summer

    Daft Punk – Discovery

    Boards of Canada – Geogaddi

    Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antartica

    Animal Collective – Merriweather and Feels

    Joanna Newsom – Ys

    Radiohead- Kid A

    Stars of the Lid – And the refinement of their decline

  13. duh marshall mathers LP

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