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Albums of the decade

Written by Music

Our writers have gathered and reviewed the albums they believe to be albums of the decade

10. Bon Iver – Bon Iver– Hope Lynes

Bon Iver’s self titled album released in 2011 changed my life entirely, because of the aesthetics and emotions of the album.

The mix of personal titles and place names creates an intimate vibe to relax to in any mood.

I find myself coming to this album when i’m feeling stressed or want to write, it really clears my head and is perfectly crafted.

My favourites on the album are ‘Perth’, because of the creative use of instruments, ‘Holocene’, because the lyrics are beautiful with the perfect instrumentals to compliment them, and ‘Hinnom, TX’.

Finally, the artwork of the album is beautifully aesthetic and is one of Bon Iver’s most artistic, on a par with latest release I,i.

9. Glass Animals- How To Be A Human Being– Finlay Holden

Glass Animals’ 2016 11-track masterpiece threw the band into the indie-world mainstream. Their extremely alternative approach to songwriting coupled with soothing vocals produces a distinct sound which translates into some phenomenal live performances which the group have become synonymous with.

The album is especially unique when you discover that it is actually a concept album, with each song coming from the point of view of one of the characters on the artwork, for which frontman and songwriter Dave Bayley created complete personalities.

When you read up on all the available information and consider this when focusing on the lyrics to each alt-pop tune, it makes the entire listening experience that much more fulfilling as you get absorbed into each track.

This outstanding band truly deserve more recognition for this genre-bending work of art that has captured the hearts of many.

8. Arctic Monkeys- AM– Elena Corcobado

Arctic Monkeys present with AM one of the most memorable pieces of music from the 2010s. Turner’s confident voice, with soft backing vocals, sharp guitar riffs and heavy drums accompany more intricate and complex lyrics.

Alex Turner is a hopeless romantic facing the internal conflict of a rockstar. ‘No 1 Party Anthem’ embodies the rockstar essence: an end-of-the-party song that explores Turner’s curiosity and desire for love and human interaction. Lyrically, Turner writes interesting imagery in lines such as “Like in my heart there’s that hotel suite and you lived there so long / It’s kinda strange now you’re gone” to describe his heartache and emptiness.

Thematically, Turner explores his conflict between easy satisfactions and lasting meaning. ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ is the perfect close to a record of doubts and questions: in it, Turner comes to the conclusion that he prefers long term and lasting meaning and devotion rather than the party animal lifestyle. He declares himself as a hopeless romantic, he is willing to let go his other desires and anxieties for true love. AM is one of the albums of the decade because it perfectly embodies the millennial sentiment that contradicts instant pleasures and a long-lasting purpose.

7.Childish Gambino- Awaken My Love– Sara Nigohosyan

Among the diverse range of music albums released this decade was the mesmerizingly different Awaken My Love by Childish Gambino. Donald Glover’s promised penultimate album did not fail to both surprise and answer expectations from his listeners.

The artist manages to break out of the mainstream and produce an album that is an experience within itself, each song more unique than the last. The songs are said to have been written and dedicated to Glover’s son, revealing a new side to the artist, offering a more personal glimpse into his life. What really grabbed mainstream audiences’ attention however, was the song Redbone, the biggest hit of the album. A song so different, but with a sense of nostalgia within it because of its retro instrumentals, it managed to capture varieties of audiences and was even turned into a meme. The genius of Gambino’s album and its immortalization through its “memefication” managed to create a timeless piece that has become one of the best albums of the decade.

6. Tame Impala- Currents– Elena Corcobado

Currents is a farewell album. Kevin Parker builds an introspective narrative of conflict between the grief of loss and the hope for a better future after a breakup, following his psychedelic sound.

Musically, Currents can be distinguished by its repetitive sounds, however, the songs do not get tiring as they possess multiple layers that form an interesting atmosphere.

‘Yes I’m Changing’ is the breakup song: hopeful and melancholic, reflecting on Parker’s feelings. Lyrics like “I know I always said that I could never hurt you / Well this is the very, very last time I’m ever going to” make the album both personal and relatable. ‘Eventually’ stood out for me due to the buildup towards the end, breaking the repetitive nature of Parker’s songs.

Parker addresses the process of coming to terms with the loss of someone: some songs mourn their past relationship and others hope for a better future, constructing a dichotomy between wanting to move on and not being able to let go. Parker gets personal when he wonders what he has done wrong, reflecting on his mistakes, insecurities and regrets. What makes Currents such a memorable album is the amplification of Tame Impala’s signature unique sound, mixed with personal and heartfelt lyrics.

5. Foals- What Went Down– Ellie Parkin

As everyone knows the Indie market is absolutely flooded with the same old recycled material, as more and more independent artists and bands are succumbing the same pop synth sound.

Yet this Indie umbrella term has paved the way for several new genres and sub genres to arise – including Indie Rock. This is where we meet Foals, who dropped their fourth studio album in 2015. It’s loud, its expressive and its fairly thunderous, with their opening title track What Went Down hitting the audience hard and fast, and needing no melancholy introduction.

The entire album was a definite shift from their previous work, which was subdued and reflective. What Went Down seeks to shout and scream at the world.

This album is one of those that you stick your headphones in and feel like you can conquer the world, just as Foals imagined when they penned the tracks. The powerful notion of Foals’ spirit transfers to each and every listener.

4. The 1975- ILIWYS– Grace Lazzaro

Best Album of the Decade, what a big and arguably undefinable title, especially in an era where about 100,000 albums are created per year. However, I will do my best to explain why I believe ILIWYS by The 1975 is deserving of this honour.

Taking inspiration from rock icons such as Radiohead, this album takes on a much more critical tone of the mindless pop songs we listen to today with lyrics that came straight from lead singer Matty Healy’s heart. In an interview, he stated, “Can we stop talking about nothingness? No one’s asking you to inspire a revolution, but inspire something.” In my opinion, I believe the album achieves that.

It was during a difficult part of my life that I first listened to this album, and it completely turned my perspective around; it told me I wasn’t alone in my struggles. To be able to touch the hearts of everyone who listens to it all in supremely different ways is truly rare in this day and age. Like Healy said himself, they started a revolution.

3. Wolf Alice- My Love Is Cool – Peter Bath

Wolf Alice’s 2015 debut album, My Love is Cool, is that rare thing: a proper album.

There is not one throwaway song. Within it, Wolf Alice achieve a distinctive sound which unifies the twelve tracks: catchy pop tunes to rival Taylor Swift, sung in Ellie Rowsell’s ethereal style, all with a backing of grungy guitar, tight drumming, and dreamy, shoegaze production. The songs are strong enough that this sound doesn’t blur into a vague melange of coolness as is often the case, and the album is punctuated by distinctive shifts between folk and grunge as on ‘Swallowtail’ and ‘You’re a Germ’.

Even after the promising EPs Wolf Alice had previously released, for a debut album to be this fully realised is remarkable. Although the 2017 follow-up, ‘Visions of a Life’, arguably contains the bands most memorable individual songs such as ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’, My Love is Cool is almost anachronistically cohesive as an album. With the rise of streaming changing how people listen to music, the past decade has not been the best for the album as an art form, bar a few notable exceptions. My Love is Cool is one of these exceptions.

2. Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp A Butterfly-Callum Trainor

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly offers a musical experience which is unrivalled.

From the lavish instrumentals; drawing from Funk, Jazz and Rock; to the overall narrative that is weaved throughout the album using spoken words elements to expanded on the lyrical contents within the tracks. Kendrick provides a fresh approach and method to hip-hop tropes, as he covers concepts of the self. This ranges from Race, a theme throughout the album which serves as both a damning of American society and as a celebration of the musical roots of black culture.

Kendrick also laments the music industry, and how the quest for wealth and musical popularity leads to dilution and corruption of the individual. The album manages to achieve both a timely and timeless quality. It was the album we needed during the rise of right-wing vitriol, such as Ferguson riots and Charlottesville Nazi march; the track Alright serves as the ultimate anthem to parade in response to these events. Its timeless nature is due to the album not chasing trends, and not dating itself with references or flavour of the month features. This album endured the 2010s and only became more flavourful with time and will continue to age gracefully and will remain a cultural touchstone for generations to come.

1. Lorde- Melodrama– Emma McCartney

Lorde’s second album Melodrama (2017) tells an intensely emotional and relatable coming-age-story, which precisely captures the experience of being a young woman in the twenty-first century. The album is packed with messages of self-acceptance, all the while acknowledging the universality of vulnerability and insecurity.

Melodrama deals with the hurricane of emotions experienced during the transition from adolescence to adulthood: from the elation of first love, to the agony of heartbreak and loneliness. Lorde proclaims the importance of being able to rely on and take comfort in yourself in times of personal struggles, and discusses fears and feelings that most would refrain from sharing.

How Lorde did not receive a Grammy for Melodrama is truly beyond me. It is a masterpiece, which voices a generation and deals with a great many raw and difficult topics, with sensitivity and insight. Lorde reminds her listeners of the fragility of humanity and highlights the roller-coaster-experience that is life. Lorde’s Melodrama is without a doubt an album to define the last decade, and I look forward to seeing what she produces in the coming years. Her third album really can’t come soon enough!

Last modified: 11th February 2020

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