Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Top 10 Albums Of The 00s

The Top 10 Albums Of The 00s

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 11. Portishead - Third

11. Portishead - Third (2008)

Electronic Trip Hop

When an outfit as universally idolised as Portishead announced that their third album would finally be released after 11 years of waiting, one could be forgiven for envisioning the worst. Times had changed, the scenery was not what they used to reign, and their old witchy tricks may no longer work. Thankfully, these trip hop legends are omnipresent, all too aware of the stakes, and instead elected to distance themselves from their original formulas whilst still lightly stroking a few fingertips upon their famed trademark shivers—not a repeat by any means, but a wink towards the past whilst adventurously marching forwards, draining life from a whole new array of uncharted styles the group had not yet explored. And together, they dragged the old school analogue warmth towards the new school electronic games they’d conquered so long ago, and presented us with an eerie image of a mother trapped in solitude, gripping the bed sheets as she achieves an orgasm during labour, and then promptly dies in the shadows due to severe bleeding, murdered during the bliss of birthing her own child. And yet even this traumatic illustration is not enough for me (or anyone) to claim this as Portishead’s greatest work, because nobody truly knows the answer to that question.

Selected Accolades:
#71 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
#225 in Spin’s list the 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985-2014).
#330 in NME’s list the 500 Greatest Albums of all Time.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 10. The National - Boxer

10. The National - Boxer (2007)

Indie Post-Punk Revival

Whilst attempting to articulate my praise for The National, I always find my tongue tripping up on backhands seemingly laced with insults, and I usually end up warding off potential buyers rather than securing a sale. But what other way is there to describe it? Their overall mood is undeniably worn bare with melancholy, an obstacle primarily planted by Matt Berninger’s unmistakable baritone vocals, casually tamed and subdued until they are reduced into one lethargic reflection of monotony, leaving craters of empty spaces within your energy, void of all enthusiasm and colour. But it is within these very crevices that an indirect allure resides, pleading with the listener to turn inwards on themselves and surrender to the scent of sadness which will ultimately abandon you with a lot to think about, amplifying your problems yet putting them into some sort of a perspective, granting the required apathy to get on with life, but only after you have a lie down for a bit. And I’m not even specifically talking about Boxer here either, as you can go ahead and apply this review to any of their albums, because each one of them is equally as enjoyable, and equally as heartbreaking.

Selected Accolades:
#110 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
#20 in Paste’s list the 50 Best Albums of the Decade.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 09. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

09. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

Neo-Psychedelia Pop

Opening on a personal note, when I first heard Yoshimi, I almost quit music due to the sudden realisation that the album I had always wanted to make, had already been made. The eccentric cartoonesque concept detailing a struggle between our determined mortal hero and some artificially soulless machines were lesser expressed via the lyrics, but rather more accurately portrayed by the united sound from the record as a whole. In my education, it has perpetually stood as the quintessential accomplishment of where the more human acoustics of traditional art competed with today’s advanced mechanical blippy electronics—and this was exactly what the fictional battle had always intended to illustrate. Furthermore, it achieved said conflicting combination without taking itself too seriously, alternatively calculating the glitches and challenging the pop ethos with a comical approach, painting a colourful scene which was dementedly quirky and humorously surreal without diluting the fundamental emotions of sentimentality and the optimism of hope. Ultimately meaning: they beat me to it. Luckily, shortly after this release, The Flaming Lips took too many drugs and their later records suffered tragically from a random haze of impenetrable doodlings, which means there is still a gap in the market if you’re keen?

Selected Accolades:
#27 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list the 100 Best Albums of the 2000s.
#11 in Uncut’s list the Top 20 Albums Of The ’00s.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 08. The Streets - Original Pirate Material

08. The Streets - Original Pirate Material (2002)

UK Garage Hip Hop

Written, performed, produced, and mixed by Mike Skinner alone in his Brixton bedroom, Original Pirate Material was never asking for much or even trying to be anything whatsoever. Rather, it was perfectly chill within itself, one refreshing and down-to-earth-album about everyday working class lifestyle, featuring: getting drunk at the pub, chasing a few girls, getting into a fight, watching the football, smoking a spliff with your mates, oweing your drug dealer money, eating a full English breakfast ... you know, the type of shit you do, the type of shit I do, the type of shit we all do, keeping it real. However, representing the simplicity of British youth as honestly as possible would never be enough to carry a full record by itself, and thankfully, it doesn't need to. Enter Skinner’s distinctive mockney deliveries, which run unusually sharp from his philosophical wit, packed full of decent life advice, and concluding as a release nobody knew exactly what to do with. Was it garage? Was it hip hop? I don’t know, but it definitely wasn’t like anything the world had heard before, a true fluke of 2000s music, especially because The Streets could never even get close to this classic’s stature again. It’s cool though, I have a feeling he doesn’t care either way.

Selected Accolades:
#36 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 100 Albums of 2000-2004.
#9 in NME’s list the 100 Best Albums of the Decade.
Deemed the Best Album of the 2000s by Observer Music Monthly.
#46 in NME’s list the 100 Best Albums of All Time.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 07. Arcade Fire - Funeral

07. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

Indie Chamber Pop Rock

I’ve always found myself frustrated by my love for Arcade Fire, which never seemed to reach the same peaks as everyone else—least of all, Arcade Fire’s love for themselves. And I suppose that was where the problem started: the self-importance these musicians held for their own craft, which only grew more and more apparent per each release until they were entirely digested by their own anuses (Reflecktor *cough cough*). But what bothered me even beyond this nuisance, was that the narcissism was almost justified, as even from their debut Funeral, it was obvious that the band had taken the whole indie genre to the next level. They focused their talents towards composing solid songs without relying on tricks to impress the listener, never attempting to reinvent the circle yet still pushing the familiar sounds into a brand new territory, using their arty eccentricities to fine-tune the experience rather than lead it, and then stuffing the center full from all the emotional melodrama one would expect from an album written entirely about death. So, yes, this is one of the best records of the decade. And yes, Arcade Fire are probably the most essential band from recent times. But we should have never let them know, because now they know, you know?

Selected Accolades:
#6 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the Top 100 Albums of the 2000s.
#4 in Slant’s list of the Top 250 Albums of the 2000s.
#2 in Consequence of Sound’s list the Top Albums of the 2000s.
#2 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
#66 in Spin’s list the 125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years.
#151 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#13 in NME’s list the The 500 Greatest Albums of the All Time.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 06. Mastodon - Leviathan

06. Mastodon - Leviathan (2004)

Progressive Sludge Metal

Before you even plant the needle into Leviathan’s groovy grooves, you already know this is not going to be your average metal ride. For starters: the whole concept revolves around the tale of Moby-Dick, accentuating this idea by saturating the sound as if drowning in an ocean of water, leaving me to wonder... who actually does something like that? Well, Mastodon, duh, a band who have continuously proven themselves to be one of the most dependable outfits in modern history, often (understandably) christened as the ‘metal band even non-metalheads can enjoy’. And it was particularly back on their sophomore effort where they managed to perfect their technique by charging all the mass amount of stocky brawn they could channel directly into the eye of the storm, leaning their weight forward with a fury as colossus as the whale on the cover, but with enough technical diversity that even the meatiest of riffs should appeal to the more intellectual of listeners, whilst glossing the adventure with production so bright that the noises slide through our ear canals like lubricated cocks made from liquid rabidity. Secure this with arguably the most engaging drummer in heavy music right now, and you have a staple of any rock monsieur's testosterone enhancing regimen.

Selected Accolades:
#126 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
Deemed the Best Metal Album of the 21st Century So Far by MetalSucks.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 05. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

05. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

Neo-Psychedelia Pop

Remember the 1960s? Yeah, me neither. But I hear it was a wonderful time when music was blissfully lost in a dreamworld of its own creation, explored with a juvenile sense of euphoria, warmed by all the magic in the world, cheered on from the abundance of summery optimism and livened by a synthesized sort of spiritualism—all of which was a wonderful idea, sure, yet dangerously unrealistic and naive in practice. However, it sure looked like a rush of fun! And that’s where Animal Collective come in, harking back to these ideals by honing in on the catchy Beachy Boysy density whilst welcoming you into the dance with open arms of love. That said, it does come with a warning, as this is a fucking mess of murky slosh, washing a strange artiness all over the sample based orientation until everything runs thick from a colourful mud, animating all over your face just like the album cover would suggest (except on even more drugs). Which, in a word, is heavenly. To summarise: Merriweather Post Pavilion is easily the ‘go-to’ modern day neo-psychedelia album I suggest to my friends, and if nothing else, is the greatest way to start a morning, like, ever!

Selected Accolades:
#14 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 04. At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command

04. At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command (2000)


This album is like an unpredictable train screaming full speed ahead, driven by an aggressive passion and a calculated primal energy, yet completely barren from any malicious intent. Which is why, if you should lose your footing on this mission and get shredded into segments by the violent wheels below, you cannot blame the determined machine for your demise, but should rather be grateful at how lovely it is to be torn apart by something as significant as Relationship of Command. However, for now, just try your best to hang on, as the bumpy tracks pummel cryptic lyrics into your head, perhaps treating your exhaustion with an occasional stutter of melodic breathing space, but generally racing towards the madness, then abruptly slamming straight into a brick wall and exploding outwards into little pieces as the final At the Drive-In effort ever released, indifferent to the monumental amount of new followers the album had just coaxed and murdered. But its influence rages strong, considered by many to be the most important post-hardcore record of all time, and somehow still sounding better per each listen, over a decade and a half later.

Selected Accolades:
#94 in Guitar World readers poll the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of all Time.
#117 in Uncut magazine’s list the 150 Albums of the Decade.
#6 in Slate magazine’s list the 100 Albums of the Decade.
#83 in Spin magazine’s list the 100 Greatest Albums 1985–2005.
#47 in Kerrang!’s list the 50 Greatest Albums of the 21st Century.
#90 in MTV2’s list the Greatest Albums Ever.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 03. Joanna Newsom - Ys

03. Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)

Chamber Folk

Ys is an appendage from the rarest of all calibres: an album so extraordinarily odd that it simply cannot have been born from this world, more likely dwelling in a magical land all by its lonesome. Said land is surely found exclusively in fairy tales, imagined by the unorthodox squeaks from an injured mouse, illustrating medieval narratives which drift on for an eternity, teasing our boundaries with a childlike mischievousness, ambling with more mythical wordplay and poetic metaphors than any other record I can recall. Naturally, something so astoundingly fresh and densely pretentious could never be penetrated upon first listen, but once you eventually break through and submerge yourself in the richness of these plucky-harped fables, you will come to appreciate Ys as a precious gift presented just to you, saturated with affection and wrapped in integrity, serving as one of the purest albums ever made—and yet far from the only example of where Joanna proved herself to be in the most creative songwriting league of our time. Perhaps even in all of time. And perhaps even as the greatest.

Selected Accolades:
#83 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
#32 in The Times’ list the Top 100 Albums of the Decade.
#21 in Uncut magazine’s list the 150 Greatest Albums of the Decade.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 02. Deftones - White Pony

02. Deftones - White Pony (2000)

Alternative Metal

Around the time White Pony galloped in, nü-metal had already flourished into one profitable cluster indeed, having forced itself into the mainstream and clawing towards the upper-ends of the commercial charts—much to the dismay of the more elitist metalhead crews. In hindsight, then, it’s interesting to analyse Deftones’ part in all of this, the group unquestionably leading as one of the pioneers from the pack, yet still smart enough to predict the genre’s imminent demise a few steps ahead. With this foresight, they avoided the temptation to greedily cash in on the blind followers’ extended palms and casually jumped ship, preferring to progress their crafty atmospheres by uniting shoegaze daydreams with trip hop textures without fully abandoning their trademark arty-darkness, fearlessly delivering their violence with a much softer (almost sexual) touch—and in that respect, forging a more dangerous entity than anything their counterparts had achieved up until that point. Furthermore, their forecast could not have been more accurate, nü-metal perishing a shameful death a few years later (perhaps owed, in part, to this very album), whilst our heroes continued to build upon their flawless discography forever, as undoubtedly one of the most consistent bands metal has ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

Selected Accolades:
#28 in Metal Hammer’s list the Albums of the Decade.
#5 in Kerrang!’s list The 50 Best Rock Albums of the 2000s.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s: 01. Radiohead - Kid A

01. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

Experimental Electronic Art Rock

After the unstoppable success of 1997’s OK Computer, Radiohead were once again hailed as the poster-gods for anthems-to-slit-your-wrist-to, and in a self-fulfilling reputation-prophecy, were unequipped to cope with the pressure of the fame, breaking down into tears from the stifling anticipation for their follow-up record, suddenly disinterested in the industry or even rock music whatsoever. Luckily, all the money and acclaim and popularity came with the perks of trust, and the band received the label’s blessing to take as much time as they needed, to do whatever they wanted to do. What they wanted to do, as it turns out, was to take the only direction they could in order escape the creative rut: by running away from themselves completely. Instruments were abandoned in favour of ambient synthesizers with mechanical drum machines; comprehensible lyrics were shattered, isolated into abstract one-liners, then pushed out of the spotlight, backwards into the freezing cold of the mix; while the pop formulas were disconnected, stripped of hooks and trapped in a claustrophobic paranoia, forced to watch their own chaos from a distance. Naturally, something so unfriendly initially dumbfounded critics, ultimately embarrassing many who disregarded the album far too prematurely, but for those of us who spent the (excessive amount of) time required to puncture the meandering drones and distressing anxiety, we still effortlessly recognise this as the most groundbreaking album of our millennium thus far.

Selected Accolades:
#48 in Spin’s list the Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years.
#2 in The Guardian’s list the Albums of the Decade.
Deemed the Best Pop Album of the Noughties by The Times.
Deemed the Best Album of the Decade by Rolling Stone magazine.
Deemed the Top Album of the 2000s by Pitchfork Media.
#67 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

But wait, there's more!

The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s

No comments :

Post a comment