Christmas may be over but here’s one final MNN treat in the form of our albums of the decade. The 2010s have been a bit of a mad one for music; we’ve seen the deaths of legends, a great decline in buying media and the demise of rock in the mainstream. However, through this comes great strength and the kind of music worth shouting about, when hope seems to falter, music always comes through. Here are some of the records that have kept us afloat these past ten years, kept us dancing and made us feel. Thanks for supporting MNN this year and all others, here’s to another great ten years of music!
1. Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz (2018)
This idea of Schmaltz and excessive sentimentality links back to much of what it means to be emo. The best bands flick between a longing for the good old days and the bleakness of today, but no band has ever captured hopelessness quite like Spanish Love Songs. Almost an emo rock opera, the album is written like a story with call backs and structure, it’s defined by its emotion and it wholly captures the mind of singer Dylan Slocum. It’s a complete epic and while defined by its beaten down nature, the choruses are so big that they give you that something extra to live for. Schmaltz is what happens when the best of emo expression, punk mentality and anthemic songwriting comes together, and it’s genuine magic.
2. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps (2017)
Phoebe Bridgers has a penchant for sadness. Through cool melancholic combination of country guitar led storytelling and emo sensibilities, she distills a soulful of emotion into ten indie pocket heartbreakers. Each song is a tale of the navigation of young love, finding yourself and nativating the wide world around you. They might not be new themes but their delivery is timeless, after all the energy of emotion never really changes. Stranger In the Alps will never grow old.
3. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell (2015)
If there’s one man who has never received his earned title of musical genius, it’s Sufjan Stevens. Being ever prolific over the past twenty years, Stevens has meddled with music like an underground mastermind and come through with compositions never the same as the one before. Some are bizarre, some heartbreaking, most a smorgasbord of sounds and feeling, Carrie and Lowell however, is his most mainstream structure of work. Stepping away from his electronic instrumental footing, Stevens took shape in his indie roots again.
Named after his mother and her second husband, this album is deeply personal and clearly autobiographical. Like a peek behind the curtain at the man who’s spent a career expressing himself through sound, we now hear him again in words. There’s no other person quite like Sufjan Stevens and we’re blessed that the one wants to share his genius with us.
4. Touche Amore – Stage Four (2016)
5. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! (2019)
6. Paramore – After Laughter (2017)
7. Behemoth – The Satanist (2014)
8. Marmozets – The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets (2014)
9. Creeper – Eternity in Your Arms (2017)
10. Baths – Obsidian (2013)
11. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2014)
12. Nervus – Everything Dies (2018)
13. Taylor Swift – 1989 (2014)
14. Against Me! – White Crosses (2011)
15. Dreamcar – S/T (2017)
16. Grave Pleasures – Motherblood (2017)
17. Oathbreaker – Rheia (2016)
18. Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It (2018)
19. Black Peaks – Statues (2016)
20. Antarctigo Vespucci – Love in the Time of Email (2018)
1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
The musical journey one takes following Kanye West’s albums chronologically cannot be easily matched by any other artist. With the exception of a select few, such as David Bowie or Michael Jackson, successfully jumping between genres and blending styles is a risk that many admirably take, but often fail in the execution. This is not the case for Kanye. With his debut album, The College Dropout, West proved that one doesn’t need to rap about ‘money, hoes and rims’ (K.W.’s own words) to make a rap record, instead focusing on religion and his financial struggles, while 808s And Heartbreak saw took an RnB approach and featured some of his more introspective moments, addressing the difficulties he faces forming relationships, and in turn influencing the careers of Drake, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, etc. Looking at his most recent ventures, such as the industrial influence on Yeezus, or the gospel driven Jesus Is King, no one can accuse the rapper’s releases as being boring.
On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, not only does West continue to genre bend with some incredible left field samples (King Crimson and Aphex Twin, for example), but invites the likes of Justin Vernon, Elton John, Rihanna and Chris Rock (?!) to feature on his record, creating a rap record that transcends the genre. Addressing not only his fame, but also continuing to discuss his difficulty with romantic relationships, Kanye continues to prove that not only is he a phenomenal producer, but a phenomenal lyricist and songwriter to match, and one whose body of work would be envied by all.
2. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation (2016)
Seeing as Dillinger don’t make bad albums, and released three in this decade, it was hard to pick just one from their catalogue, but it seemed appropriate to pick the band’s swansong. Dissocation is the mathcore act’s farewell record, after dominating the hardcore scene for 20 years with their unique brand of chaos. By incorporating more jazz fusion and electronic elements, the band remained typically unpredictable in their songwriting, with Greg Puciatio’s lyrics addressing the demise of the band itself (try and keep a dry eye during the title track, I dare you). Not slowing down or compromising throughout their six album run, The Dillinger Escape Plan signed off with a perfect album to complete their perfect legacy. RIP to the greatest hardcore band the world has seen.
3. You Won’t Get What You Want – Daughters (2018)
Music takes on the guise of many different emotions to scratch the itch of different moods. Feeling happy? Listen to some pop or disco. Feeling sad? Try some shoegaze or post-rock. Angry? Nu-metal is the way to go. But what about if want music that will scare you? Enter Daughters, and their latest album You Won’t Get What You Want.
Following their break up eight years prior, the hitherto math-rock band reformed to bring out their terrifying, genre bending magnum opus, blending all the darkest parts of industrial, noise rock and post-punk that leaves classic albums like The Downward Spiral or Soundtrack For The Blind sounding like an Andrew WK record. With guitars that are manipulated and altered beyond all recognition layered over repetitive drum patterns while Alexis S.F. Marshall delivers his own brand of bleak idioms in his lyrics, Daughters have created the ultimate anti-party album.
4. Oathbreaker – Rheia (2016)
5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver (2011)
6. Code Orange – Forever (2017)
7. Frank Ocean – Blonde (2016)
8. Deafheaven – Sunbather (2013)
9. Nails – Abandon All Life (2013)
10. Aphex Twin – Syro (2014)
11. Touché Amoré – Stage Four (2016)
12. Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (2016)
13. Defeater – Empty Days And Sleepless Nights (2011)
14. Vein – Errorzone (2018)
15. JMSN – Velvet (2018)
16. DMA’s – For Now (2018)
17. JME – Integrity> (2015)
18. Angel Du$t – AD (2014)
19. Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance (2018)
20. The Antlers – Burst Apart (2011)
1. The Menzingers – After The Party (2017)
In a decade where alternative music seems to have found its thunder once more, if not commercially then certainly creatively, it seems a little silly to name After the Party as my album of the decade. It doesn’t tread any new ground or show us anything we haven’t seen before, but when the songs are this damn good, it really doesn’t matter. If you somehow missed this record when it was released I implore you to go and check it out. The band possess the soul of Springsteen and the punk-rock spirit of Bad Religion, and this album sees them at their peak. I don’t know where I’m gonna go when my twenties are over, but no doubt I will still be listening to this record over and over again.
2. Heck – Instructions (2016)
Although they were most famed for their explosive live shows where the entire nearby vicinity was the stage, Heck showed just how special they were with 2016s debut album, Instructions. For all the bite and razor sharp riffs, it was the 16-minute closer which traversed all kinds of different musical territory showing just how much they had left to give. The band’s split in 2017 means we may now never get a follow up to this masterpiece.
3. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014)
Against Me were rather unfairly seen as being on a bit of a dip in form after 2011’s White Crosses; when this record dropped in 2014 however, there was no denying it. As an obviously very personal work for Laura Jane Grace, who had publicly transitioned in 2012, the album charts her dealing gender dysphoria growing up and has no doubt been so inspiring to a huge number of those going through anything similar. This is one of the decade’s most important punk records from one of the century’s most important punk bands.
4. Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (2016)
5. Ghost – Meliora (2015)
6. Code Orange – Forever (2017)
7. Gojira – Magma (2016)
8. Pup – The Dream is Over (2016)
9. Black Peaks – Statues (2016)
10. Marmozets – The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets (2014)
11. Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms (2017)
12. The Wonder Years – No Closer to Heaven (2015)
13. Jamie Lenman – Devolver (2017)
14. Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All (2014)
15. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation (2016)
16. Wear Your Wounds – WYW (2017)
17. Behemoth – The Satanist (2014)
18. Every Time I Die – Low Teens (2016)
19. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (2017)
20. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light (2011)
1. Kids In Glass Houses – Dirt (2010)
Realising that this album was released in 2010 not only makes me feel old but really emphasises the quality of this album. After near enough a decade I still enjoy listening to Dirt as much as I did when I first heard it. Tracks like ‘Matters At All’ shone the spotlight on Kids In Glass Houses and received a lot of radio attention, but essentially every song on the album is as good, if not better. Dirt seamlessly transitions between songs that tug on your heartstrings, tracks that singing along to feels like your lungs will burst, and ‘Undercover Lover’ which is Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’ in disguise. Not a day goes by where I don’t wholeheartedly miss Kids In Glass Houses, but having albums that are as perfect and timeless as Dirt go someway to filling the void.
2. The Gospel Youth – Always Lose (2017)
As a fan of this band since their first EP, having watched them play live to myself and about 5 other people in Tunbridge Wells, the release of Always Lose in 2017 was incredible. Although the band has been through a difficult time since the release, it doesn’t detract from the fact that this album is flawless from start to finish. The lyrics are some of the most emotional I’ve heard and some of the choruses are the most empowering. 2019’s EP Thoughtless was a terrific effort but things have gone a little quiet since, but whenever I listen to Always Lose I’m reminded of what an incredible and underrated band The Gospel Youth are
4. Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit (2015)
When Bring Me The Horizon dropped That’s The Spirit back in 2015 I immediately fell in love. The album showcased a synth-heavy vibe to it but combined this with heavy rock, and a clear shift away from their hardcore roots. Another fascinating aspect of the album was the divide it caused between Bring Me The Horizon fans, with many struggling to accept the change in musical direction. Personally, it’s an album consisting of banger after banger that showed a lot of courage with the risky shift in approach for a heavy band.
4. Mallory Knox – Asymmetry
5. You Me At Six – Hold Me Down
6. Deaf Havana – Fools and Worthless Liars
7. Kids In Glass Houses – Peace
8. My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
9. Don Broco – Automatic
10. Lower Than Atlantis – S/T
11. Paramore – After Laughter
12.Hands Like Houses – Dissonants
13. You Me at Six – VI
14. Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
15. Young Guns – Bones
16. Trash Boat – Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through
17. Deaf Havana – Rituals
18. As It Is – Never Happy, Ever After
19. Deaf Havana – All These Countless Nights
20. Paramore – S/T
1. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork (2013)
After an extended six year hiatus, QOTSA returned in 2013 with what can only be described as a perfect album. From the sleazy, acid-washed groove of Smooth Sailing to the melancholic wave of I Appear Missing, songwriting this decade was never more impeccable than this. The sonic landscapes are apocalyptic and desolate, with Josh Homme’s evocative vocals, charismatic lyricism and unparalleled guitar playing hitting a peak not reached by any other act in a very long time.
2. IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance (2018)
A very close second, local Brizzle bois The Idlers make good on the bucketloads of potential found on Brutalism to deliver the most vital album of modern times. Raucous post-punk stabbing backs Joe Talbot’s blunt, at times darkly humorous, at others bitterly cynical lyrics, confronting bigots with both open arms and clenched fists.
3. Control Top – Covert Contracts (2019)
Morphing the inherently frustrating queer experience into viciously cutting post-punk, Control Top’s debut album is the most stunning of the decade. With Ali Carter’s vocal melodies comes a rush of new-wave euphoria, of course chased by instrumentals that can only be described as pure rage.
4. IDLES – Brutalism (2017)
5. Clutch – Earth Rocker (2013)
6. Wasting Light (2011)
7. Clutch – Psychic Warfare (2015)
8. Every Time I Die – Low Teens (2016)
9. Otoboke Beaver – Itekoma Hits (2019)
10. black midi – Schlagenheim (2019)
11. Queens of the Stone AgeVillains (2017)
12. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown (2014)
13. Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch (2018)
14. Clutch – From Beale Street To Oblivion (2010)
15. Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit (2018)
16. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (2018)
17. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us (2016)
18. Deftones – Gore (2016)
19. Crystal Fairy – S/T (2017)
20. Gojira – Magma (2016)