My Essential Albums of the Decade – Part 2

From The Arctic Monkeys to The XX, the 2010’s had a medley of different music. I will be rating my favourite (IMO) albums of the decade.

Note that I have selected 17 favourite albums – it was simply a case that I could not make this list any shorter, without excluding some of my favourite albums of the decade. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of any such exercise does result in some exclusions, which will be revealed in the final part of this series.

For now, these are 10-6 of my ranking of the best albums of the decade.

10: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (2010)

Credit: Merge Records

Key songs: The Suburbs, Ready to Start, Deep Blue, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Concept albums are generally few and far between these days. This alone, makes ‘the Suburbs’ worth a listen. The concept behind it is, as the name suggests, life in the suburbs of cities of the United States, and in particular in The Woodlands, Texas; where two members of the band grew up. Particular highlights include the title track, which is a piano-pop track, which then transitions into the fast-paced rock of ‘Ready to Start’. ‘Deep Blue’ is a dark reflective piece. However, the dark horse of the album is the Blondie style ‘Spawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’.

9: Bon Iver – i,i (2019)

Credit: Jagjaguwar

Key songs: Hey Ma, U (Man Like), Faith, Salem

Much like the rest of Bon Iver’s work, this album is unique and it is hard to pin a genre on it. Whilst it may not be as clever as Bon Iver’s previous album (22, A Million), this album is much more accessible. It does however contain some of the jarring nature of 22, A Million, particularly shown by the opening two tracks. Every song on the album is a unique experience. ‘Hey, Ma’ is a particular highlight that carries a  large amount of emotional weight, through its falsetto vocals. Another favourite of mine is ‘U (Man Like)’, which has a distinctive piano intro, that I can never forget. It’s really an album that has to be listened to all the way through to appreciate its greatness.

8: The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You are so Beautiful yet So Unaware of It (2016)

Credit: Dirty Hit

Key Songs: Somebody Else, The Sound, lostmyhead, This Must Be My Dream

This album probably has the longest album title I have ever seen, in a way, this makes sense since the album contains a staggering 17 tracks. This is the band’s second album, which is generally brighter, and more radio friendly, in comparison to the band’s first album. What I like in particular about the album is the 80’s synth vibes throughout the album, creating a big sense of nostalgia. Despite this one sense of uniformity, every track still retains it’s own unique identity, and one never feels that a track is included on the album for the sake of it. This is definitely shown by the wide diversity of the tracks: from the dance-pop ‘The Sound’, to the late-night heartbreak vibes of ‘Somebody Else’, to the atmospheric ‘lostmyhead’, to the heartwarming ‘This Must Be My Dream’. The latter of which is one of the most underrated songs of I’ve heard.

7: The XX – I See You (2017)

Credit: Young Turks

Key songs: Replica, On Hold, I Dare You, Say Something Loving

The third studio album by the indie pop band is certainly the band’s most accessible. Whilst their first two albums were characterised by minimalist arrangements, this one contains songs of a denser, and arguably a more interesting nature. Despite this, some may argue that it betrays the sound of the group. However, in keeping with the band’s other albums, it has reflective, late-night vibes to it. One particular thing I really like about the album is its use of sampling and emotive guitar lines. This is reflected in ‘Replica’, ‘I Dare You’ and ‘Say Something Loving’.

6: Arctic Monkeys – AM (2013)

Credit: Domino

Key songs: Do I Wanna Know, R U Mine?, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, I Wanna Be Yours

Possibly the most famous of all the albums on the list. ‘AM’ is Arctic Monkeys’ quintessential album. It has a much more polished sound than the band’s previous albums, with thumping drum beats and bass lines. Whilst the album arguably takes more of an ‘R&B’ approach, it does not betray the fact that Arctic Monkeys are still at their core, a guitar band. This is shown by the searing guitar riffs, particularly on ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and ‘R U Mine?’. Perhaps the most underrated song on the album is the heartbreaking, closing track: ‘I Wanna Be Yours’.

Featured image: Asda Good Living

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