It’s the end of the decade and I love lists, so today I’m starting a series of lists about my favorite things. Today we’re looking at my favorite albums of the past 10 years. What I learned more than anything with making this list is that 2010 and 2011 were more amazing than I gave them credit for at the time. 7 of the 10 albums below came out in those two years!
Alway, I hope you like the list and check out one or two of these that you haven’t listened to yet.
1: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West (2010)
Audacious, bold, confident, vulnerable…there are a million ways to describe this record, but to me it’s an artist at his peak in terms of talent and fame getting so many things to fall into place perfectly.
It’s been almost 10 years since I first heard this album and it just has countless moments that still haunt me. Nicki Minaj’s opening poem on Dark Fantasy, the horns at the start of All of the Lights, the energy behind Power, Nicki Minaj again with an absolutely killer verse on Monster, the quiet piano and drop on Runaway, Bon Iver’s crooning on Lost in the World, and more.
For all the hate Kanye gets for being an egomaniac (and he is one) he’s also an amazing collaborator who gets the most out of his partners. It wasn’t just this record, it’s basically all of them, but this one stands out to me as a simply untouchable record on every front.
Even the lead up to this album was perfect! Kanye had a thing called “G.O.O.D. Fridays” where he dropped a couple songs each Friday for months leading up to the album. Some of those songs were b-sides, others were straight from the album, and others were alternate takes on album tracks. It was a great build up to the full album which exceeded my already lofty expectations.
This isn’t just my favorite record of the decade, it’s my favorite record of all time.
#2: The Suburbs - Arcade Fire (2010)
The Suburbs won album of the year at the 2011 Grammys and it was a bit of a shock to a lot of people, but the award was well-deserved as the band put out an epic and beautiful record that was so good that it refused to be ignored.
2003’s Funeral might be the best album of the 2000s and The Suburbs was a remarkable way to kick off this new decade. I wouldn’t count these guys from putting out another classic in the next decade either.
#3: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming - M83 (2011)
This album would almost make the list for the first 30 seconds of Midnight City alone. But M83 delivers over the 22 tracks here with an experience like none other. It’s a perfect double album that ebbs and flows perfectly through its 73 minute run time. If you’re taking a long drive at night, put this on and listen from start to finish.
#4: Bon Iver - Bon Iver (2011)
Justin Vernon has evolved throughout his career and his 2 albums after this took a different tone, but his self titled sophomore album holds a very special place in my heart. As opposed to the three relatively epic albums above, the 39 minutes on this 10 track record are decidedly intimate.
#5: Departing - The Rural Alberta Advantage (2011)
Speaking of smaller, more intimate records, the 33 minute Departing by The Rural Albert Advantage is hit after hit after hit. This is a perfect winter record about small town life.
#6: Trouble Will Find Me - The National (2013)
This album wasn’t necessarily one I knew would be on this list when I started making it, but the more I listen back to this record the more I adore it. I can’t quite explain it, but the instrumentation, writing, and vocal delivery, all come together in a perfect album.
#7: E•MO•TION - Carly Rae Jepsen (2015)
So I was a little late to the Jepsen train. Despite coming out in 2015, I never really listened to this until 2018 and holy shit this is amazing! The singles are some of the best pop songs of the decade and even the deeper cuts like Boy Problems and Warm Blood hold up as pop masterpieces on their own. You can’t really count it, but the 8 tracks on E•MO•TION Side B released one year later just adds to an artist who was just on fire. 2019’s Dedicated is pretty great too…
#8: The Winter of Mixed Drinks - Frightened Rabbit (2010)
Frightened Rabbit songs have always had dour lyrics surrounded by celebratory music, and 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks leans into this perfectly. Sadly, the sadness and desparation expressed in this music was not just an act, as frontman Scott Hutchison committed suicide in May 2018 which makes you look at their entirely discography in a new light. It’s hard to listen to this music today, but it’s impossible to forget.
#9: Celebration Rock - Japandrois (2012)
When your album is 8 songs, each one needs to hit and Japandroids have nothing but hits on this record. In fact, I’d say the last 3 songs (Younger Us, The House That Heaven Built, and Continuous Thunder) are the best 3 three song stretch on any record of the decade. This album is pure joy for all 35 minutes of its short runtime.
#10: This is Happening - LCD Soundsystem (2010)
The drop on Dance Yrself Clean, the wailing guitar riff on All I Want, the desperation in I Can Change, the meta brilliance of You Wanted a Hit, and the “AhhhhAaaaaaaaaa” on Home, there are tons of moments I can’t forget from LCD Soundsystem’s first “last” album.
Cutting down a decade of music into 10 albums is incredibly hard and it necessitates omitting some of your favorites, so here are some of the other albums that just missed the list but I also think you should check out:
- Here and Nowhere Else - Cloud Nothings (2014)
- Care - How To Dress Well (2016)
- To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar (2015)
- Belong - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2011)
- Random Access Memories - Daft Punk (2013)
- AM - Arctic Monkeys (2013)
- Sound Kapital - Handsome Furs (2011)
- In Our Heads - Hot Chip (2012)
- Evil Friends - Portugal. The Man (2013)
- They Want My Soul - Spoon (2014)
- Heard it in a Past Life - Maggie Rogers (2019)
- Assume Form - James Blake (2019)