Albums of the Decade: Part Two

At long last (sorry), here are a few more fantastic albums from the last ten years that deserve your time and attention (you can read the first part of this list here). Again, these are not in any hierarchical order, and they are not the ‘best’ albums of the decade; all of these are just brilliant albums which I love and you need to get your hands on if you haven’t already. As ever, let me know if you think I’ve missed any, or if you (dis)agree with my choices…

Foo Fighters – ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’ (2007): This was an exhilarating and immediate return to form after the patchy In Your Honor. Echoes… is easily as good as 2002’s fiery and melodic One By One, but has the added bonus of an emotional maturity and depth that results in an ultimately more satisfying album; and, in The Pretender, it also has has a good candidate for one of the best album openers of all time. This is the album that finally and comprehensively confirms that Dave Grohl is a lot more than just the drummer from Nirvana.

Prodigy – ‘Invaders Must Die’ (2009): Another, possibly even more spectacular return to form from a band who have never compromised their genius, even though their last couple of albums veered off the paths of true greatness just a tad. It’s so great to hear the return of the Prodigy’s classic, proper, old-skool hardcore/ravey sound on tracks like Warrior’s Dance, only this time round it’s even more amped up by Liam Howlett’s deeply textured modern production – and surely the fiercely kick-ass single Omen was the true Sound of Summer 2009?

Nitin Sawhney – ‘Prophesy’ (2001): Beautiful and essential, this album somehow manages to cover many musical bases and still remain a coherent and satisfying whole. Prophesy blends Indian instruments, rhythms and vocal lines with low-slung hip hop beats, western electronic and orchestral sounds, and ‘found sound’-type samples to create a highly textured and intricate album that effortlessly meshes eastern and western influences to stunning and often very political effect. Originally part of the comedy team responsible for the creation of the popular BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, Sawhney has gone on to reinvigorate and reinvent the chillout genre for the much smaller world of the 21st century.

Ryan Adams – Rock ‘N’ Roll (2003): Maybe not his best album by some estimates, but certainly his most… well… rock ‘n’ roll offering to date, this is an accomplished collection of uplifting, melodic, soaring riff-heavy indie-rock, set off to perfection by Adams’ plaintive voice. Standout tracks So Alive and Boys open with a couple of those glorious, memorable, aching minor key riffs that get you right there (you know exactly what I mean), and the rest of the damn thing gets you jumping round your living room and singing along on the first listen. This one has been glued to my stereo for over a year now and I’m not expecting it to budge any time soon…

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – ‘Ballad of the Broken Seas’ (2006): This album was a real and unexpected pleasure for me. Ex-Belle and Sebastian singer Campbell’s beautiful, breathy knowing little-girl voice weaves around ex-Screaming Trees frontman Lanegan’s gruff roar to surprisingly delicate and heartbreaking effect, creating a gorgeous, woozy Americana which wraps you up tightly in its whiskey-stained embrace. This is a genuinely lovely and intelligent album, which stands (and deserves) repeated listenings, preferably late at night with a glass of the good stuff to hand!

Portishead – ‘Third’ (2008): They made us wait over a decade for this, but boy, was it worth it. Beautifully, breathtakingly obtuse and as stubborn as ever, Third is simultaneously stunning and terrifying, and Beth Gibbons’ honey-and-cigarettes voice is still an elegantly wasted thing of beauty. Third is definitely and very recognisably Portishead, but their sound has gone way beyond the dinner party circuit and has been tweeked somewhere into a slightly paranoid and edgy corner of outer space on this album. Utterly essential.

Arcade Fire – ‘Funeral’ (2004/5): This remarkable album is almost entirely infused with the ever-looming spectre of death, but, paradoxically, it somehow also manages to be utterly uplifting and completely life-affirming, all at the same time. A strange, melancholy mixture of mystery and slightly off-key but instantly addictive melodies, Funeral is an album that immediately grabs the attention of the listener and takes them off on an intriguing and fascinating journey into the minds of Arcade Fire. They’ll probably never better this, but who cares when ‘this’ is so damn wonderful?

Seth Lakeman – ‘Freedom Fields’ (2006): Folk music hasn’t exactly been fashionable in the mainstream of the music industry, but a small group of British musicians (including Lakeman) are changing all that. Freedom Fields may not sound particularly promising at first, consisting as it does of a collection of traditional folk songs combined with a number of Lakeman’s original compositions which are mostly themed around events in 17th century history, but these are all immediately likeable and immaculately performed tracks. This album is intelligent and great fun; exactly the type of folk music you could happily imagine stomping your feet to in a country pub somewhere after a fair few pints of proper beer…

Roots Manuva – ‘Run Come Save Me’ (2001): For me, it was with this album that British hip hop finally found its true voice and began speaking its own language instead of trying to sound American. I mean, can you imagine Dr Dre or Ice Cube, say, rhyming about cheese on toast? Nope, thought not. But Roots Manuva (known to his mum as Rodney Smith) gave us said melty cheddar and so much more with this album. Musically diverse, lyrically witty and utilising some proper beats, Run Come Save Me perfectly encapsulates the sound of British music on the cusp of a new decade, a new century and a new millennium.

The Orb – ‘The Dream’ (2007): Much of their recent material has been pretty forgettable, but this rather wonderful album heralded the welcome return of The Orb firing on all cylinders again, and that has to be A Good Thing. No longer as unique and as singular as they were back in the early 90s due to the fact that the world and his wombat has done the whole chillout/ambient thing too, The Orb had been fading – but this bouncy, rolling collection of tracks returns them to the good stuff, putting a neat modern twist on the classic, cheeky Orb sound. This whole album has a feel which takes me back to how I remember The Orb best: drifting into semi-consciousness after a heavy night to the sound of UF Orb gently drifting over vaguely incoherent conversations and the smell of spliff smoke in the early hours of the morning…

Watch out over the festive season for the third and final part of my list of albums of the decade – there’s still some good stuff yet to come!

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3 comments

  1. Rose Hudson

    My top 20 ’00s albums (no particular order)

    1. 10,000 days – Tool

    2. Lungs – Florence & The Machine

    3. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

    4. The Writing’s On the Wall – Destiny’s Child

    5. In This Light And On This Evening – Editors

    6. Strange Little Girls – Tori Amos

    7. Strange House – The Horrors

    8. Nouvelle Vague – Nouvelle Vague

    9. Bunkka – Paul Oakenfold

    10. Furious Angels – Rob Dougan

    11. Angels With Dirty Faces – Sugababes

    12. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse

    13. Cansei de Ser Sexy – Cansei de Ser Sexy

    14. Come Whatever May – Stone Sour

    15. Fever To Tell – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

    16. Elephant – White Stripes

    17. Standing in the Way of Control – The Gossip

    18. Funeral – Arcade Fire

    19. Hot Fuss – The Killers

    20. This Island – Le Tigre

    • trickygirl

      A good selection there, 10,000 Days is an complete and utter work of genius, I’m a massive Tool fan. The CSS album nearly made my list, I really like that – and Elephant is also a really good album, as is Hot Fuss, This Island, and – of course – Funeral. Definitely some excellent choices, although I’ve never got the whole Amy Winehouse thing…

  2. Pingback: Albums of the Decade: Part Three « Another Kind Of Mind

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