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My Top Albums of the Past Decade (2010s) - Part 1

Inspired in equal parts by Pitchfork, my love of useless lists, and all the other useless lists that are bound to circulate before 2020 dawns upon us ... I have compiled my Best Albums of 2010s list. Is it the penultimate one? God no. Do I care? Also, no. For example, I'm not including any Radiohead or Kanye West, and I know some people will be bewildered by that choice - but sans The Throne and Kids See Ghosts, I can't think of much I found too memorable by Kanye this past decade (I guess "Black Jesus?") But it would be insincere to call that one of my top albums since I barely listened to it. Radiohead - to be honest, I haven't enjoyed anything Radiohead has churned out since "In Rainbows." And even "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire was a hard sell for me. I'm talking about albums I connected with or found memorable in one way or another. And by all means, my opinion isn't end-all be-all, so feel free to disagree. 

Somewhat related but maybe not really, does anyone feel like this decade was a century long? The beginning of it seems so far away from my current reality. It's crazy, but I guess a decade is a considerable length of time, and things change. 

In this list, you'll find albums that were recorded during the death of a loved one (Phantogram, Sufjan Stevens). You'll find breakouts that the country jumped all over (Lizzo, Frank Ocean). You'll find music that no one else is going to list (Gems, because I am who I am.) I hope some of it resonates with you. 

So, without further adieu, here is the start of my list of the top albums of the 2010s. I will be doing this in several installments, because honestly spending a weekend writing one long blog post is ... well it doesn't sound extremely enjoyable, even for a geek such as myself. 

52.) "The Suburbs" - Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire's track record for the past 20 years has been fairly strong - maybe opinions were pretty mixed about "Everything Now," but there is a reason they were David Bowie's favorite band, after all. "The Suburbs" is the most Arcade Fire album since their definitive "Funeral" from the early 2000s. An unmissable meditation on aging and family that ushered in the new decade with a sense of wonder that wasn't capable of lasting.

"Reflektor" - released several years later - gave the same intense Arcade Fire scrutiny to mortality and society. That album is very much worth checking out in it right - the title track is especially strong - but you won't see it on this list. 
HEAR: "Sprawl II: Mountains Beyond Mountains"

51.) "Be the Cowboy" - Mitski
If you were remotely sentient last year, this album was ... difficult to miss, let's put it that way. And for good reason. Although you could call "Your Best American Girl" Mitski's breakout album, "Be the Cowboy" cemented her status as a little left-of-center pop star. "Geyser," the pristine first track on the album, is without a doubt one of the best openers of the decade as well. Mitski is a powerful artist, and it'll be curious to watch her continue to evolve over the 2020s. She can rock out, but she can pull back as needed, too. And once you listen to "Nobody," good luck getting it out of your head. 
HEAR: "Geyser," "Two Slow Dancers," "Nobody," "A Pearl"

50.) "Three," Phantogram
Phantogram released their tour de force with "Three," their most accessible work to date. The anger, pain, longing that the duo embody on this album is commendable - they manage to tackle dark themes and offer their darkest moments up to the masses. In fact, "You Don't Get Me High Anymore" seemed to slam Phantogram in the middle of contemporary modern rock culture. 

On an unfortunate aside, Sarah Barthel's sister killed herself during the recording of "Three," an event that surely overshadowed the rest of the recording. There is a somber quality to this entire album, but it is not offputting. It's strangely inviting, and sometimes, even comforting.
HEAR: "Cruel World, "You Don't Get Me High Anymore," "Answer," "Same Old Blues"

49.) "Free Your Mind," Cut Copy
Cut Copy got some flak for this one, but I don't think it was entirely well-deserved. Your first time with "Free Your Mind" might make you scoff at the banality of the lyrics and the simplicity of the music, but then listen to it again. "Free Your Mind" is taking a vacation for your brain. It is fun music you don't have to think about, nor is it as overproduced or meaningless as what you'll find on Top 40 radio. An underrated, overlooked masterpiece. 
HEAR: "Take Me Higher," "Believers"



  1. I have strong opinions about albums that ought to appear on this list, and your credibility will be permanently compromised if none of them make a showing.


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