Top 25 Albums of 2010
25. Stars – The Five Ghosts
Holds up really well upon repeated listens, unlike it’s predecessor. Though, frustratingly, the title track didn’t end up on the album.
24. Action Action – The Ones Who Get It Are The Ones Who Need Not To Know
Despite an annoying lead vocalist (who kind of grows on you over time) there’s something special about this album. Energetic, dark, fun and inventive throughout. I believe this was a digital-only self-release, and that’s a shame, as it’s the best thing this band has put out, by miles.
23. The National – High Violet
Doesn’t quite hit the highs that Boxer did, which is why it’s so low on this list, but it’s still a great album that soundtracked much of my year. Often because someone else was playing it. As much as I want their ‘hipster coolness’ to distract from the music, it doesn’t.
22. GoodBooks – Cry Of The Hunters
This one is sort of a cheat. GoodBooks second album was scheduled to be released at the end of 2009, but it wasn’t. The band broke up and left this unique, introspective rock album on the shelf. It’s a shame. The song “Dead Ground” is an achievement.
21. Mark Ronson & The Business International – Record Collection
This album is a hypnotic potpourri. On first listen, the selection of collaborators seems bizarre. Q-Tip, Simon Lebon, Kyle Falconer, Rose Elinor Dougal, Boy George… Yet it’s seamless, and the most fun album I’ve listened to all year.
20. Shadow Shadow Shade – Shadow Shadow Shade
Shadow Shadow Shade (formerly Afternoons) have finally released their debut, and despite my worries it wouldn’t live up to their explosive live shows, it’s actually even better. Being able to finally make out the words, hear the crisp harmonies, hear the keyboards usually lost in the mix. It’s rare you see a band as many times as I have without having an actual release from them. The two-part “Dark Of Heather”/“Pale Of Fern” is the highlight here.
19. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Blah blah blah genius. Blah blah blah number one record. Blah blah blah “Month Of May.”
18. The Sunshine Underground – Nobody’s Coming To Save You
The Sunshine Underground are an anthem factory. There is not a song on this album that couldn’t have been a single. Just glancing at the song titles, I’m able to belt out the chorus for each one in full. Most albums don’t even have choruses nowadays.
17. Marina & The Diamonds – The Family Jewels
Half of these songs soundtracked my 2009, and to be frank, when they were all compiled on an album, I was kind of disappointed. The new songs were great (“Guilty,” “Rootless,” “Oh No!”) but I was already exhausted with it. A few months of not touching the album and even “Obsessions” is fresh again. This is a testament to the strength of Marina Diamondis’ songwriting abilities. She’s not just another girl in a Pikachu costume.
16. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – The Golden Year
I had heard the leak of this album about a week before the news that lead singer Charles Haddon had taken his life in Belgium. My initial impression was to think how fun, dancey and retro the album was. It’s impossible to listen to the album that way now. The juxtaposition between light electro beats and distressed, almost hopeless lyrics is haunting.
15. Ida Maria – Katla
Out of the blue, this is was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting another Ida Maria album so fast, nor was I expecting one so good. 9 songs (if you include the iTunes bonus track… and I ALWAYS do) and each one instantly memorable. “I Eat Boys Like You For Breakfast” is my new mantra. “My Shoes” is easily the prettiest thing she’s ever recorded, and “Cherry Red” will no doubt end up on every mix CD for every dude I try to bone for the near future. Kudos Ms. Maria.
14. Mystery Jets – Serotonin
I love these guys. The emotion pouring out of each 3 minute pop song. The weird choruses that initially have you thinking “this makes no sense” and then become your favorite part of the album. Even the b-sides associated with this album are top notch. Not as good as Making Dens, but few albums are.
13. Yeasayer – OddBlood
So much gets put into any 3 second snatch of this album, it’s hard to believe OddBlood was made by humans. “One” is the party song of the year. Just try and keep your pants on while it’s playing. You can’t… Well, I can’t.
12. Menomena – Mines
This one’s a grower, not a shower.
11. Future Islands – In Evening Air
Future Islands were a new discovery for me this year, but I quickly went back and became obsessed with their first album, and when I was done with that, I went back to this album. If you have the chance, check out Future Islands live, and make sure you get as close to the stage as possible. Vocalist Sam Herring screams and squeals and contorts his body and face until you’re certain you’re not at a synthpop show. But you are.
10. Andy Prieboy – The Questionable Profits Of Pure Novelty
Little Known Fact: Wall Of Voodoo had a second vocalist, Andy Prieboy, who was responsible for the band’s best two albums. Littler Known Fact: Andy Prieboy quietly released two VERY experimental and ambitious art-pop albums in the early 90’s. They were very good. Littlest Known Fact: This dude just released his best work yet in 2010. The Questionable Profits Of Pure Novelty (digital only) compiles several songs Prieboy released on his website over the past year, and includes a few new ones. “Hearty Drinking Men” is a must. “Shine” and “Bands” are both haunting, funny and heartbreaking while remaining inherently catchy. Imagine an American The Divine Comedy.
9. Tigers That Talked – The Merchant
I don’t think you can find this one in stores either. At least not yet. Tigers That Talked FINALLY release their album The Merchant, which they’ve been promising online for well over a year. It was worth it. All the hits no one ever heard are here, alongside some new classics. Album centerpiece “The Earth And The Urn” is a must-download.
8. Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
Pinpoint production and about six hooks per 3 minute song is why this album rarely leaves my car. Honestly, it’s covered in scratches. I don’t even know if it should’ve placed this high on the list, but I’m always listening to the dammned thing, I must like it.
7. MGMT – Congratulations
This bitch is SICK. I know, I know, 9 song albums were super trendy this year, but this one is the reason why. MGMT made an album that pissed off 80% of their fans, and made quite a few new ones. Opener “It’s Working” will forever sound like 2010 for me. “Brian Eno” is the perfect song for waxing your unibrow, and “Someone’s Missing” is so good, the first time I heard the song, it actually made me vomit til I passed out. True story!*
6. Momus – Hypnoprism
Carefully chosen lyrics, meticulously crafted and layered melodies, and arbitrarily haphazard production. This album, a dissection of Youtube, and Youtube living, I suppose, is timely, funny, catchy, completely disorienting, upsetting and perfect. Each track appeared on Youtube throughout the year in unique, non-album edits, each with it’s own video. Here’s the clip for the standout track “Death Ruins Everything.” When you get tired of this album (which you won’t) head over to Youtube to see two FANTASTIC bonus tracks that should’ve been on the album, “Monday” and “The Orderly.”
5. One Night Only – One Night Only
Listen to lead single “Say You Don’t Want It” It’s pure pop, and not for everyone. Proceed with caution. For some people, this album will make you want to find a pregnant woman in the grocery store and just pelt her with melons. For others, not so much. I’m in the latter camp. Also try “Bring Me Back Home” and “Forget My Name” Also try the entire rest of this album. It’s friggin number 5 on my list for a reason. Jeeeez!
4. The Irrepressibles – Mirror Mirror
You like Antony, right? But haven’t you always wished he’d be… I don’t know, gayer? Well look no further, this UK 9 piece collective, led by the flamboyant Jamie McDermott have made one of the most hypnotic, loving, heartbreaking LPs of the year. Album closer “In This Shirt?” is their song to beat.
3. Everything Everything – Man Alive
The best debut album of the year. Songs twist and veer in directions you’d never expect, explode into choruses randomly. Hooks are around every corner, subversive lyrics abound. I don’t care how the lyric book reads, I KNOW he’s saying “Who’s gonna sit on your face when I’m gone.” “Come Alive Diana” should be their next hit single.
2. Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz
It was such a tight race for #1. This is an album to move into. Buy a comfy couch for it, and just relax inside. Every bleep, every odd percussive track, every layer of vocals has a purpose. On repeated listens the album reveals itself to be Sufjan’s opus. I can’t imagine he’ll top this, but I’m looking forward to watching him try.
1. Lightspeed Champion – Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You
This is the best album of the year. Lightspeed Champion is the best dude of the year. The lyrics… I can’t even. Just listen to “Dead Head Blues” and tell me it’s not the best song you’ve ever heard, ever. Even if it’s a fleeting feeling, it happens every time this album opens. You ever listen to an album and go “this guy needs to be my best friend”? Lightspeed For President!!!
Okay 2010 is over. I’m taking a nap.