Sunday, November 29, 2009

Albums of the Decade

Getting the lists for 2009 started early the Observer Music Monthly has one with their top 50 albums of the decade. Here's the top 10:

10 Burial – Untrue
9 Salif Keita – Moffou
8 Jay-Z – The Black Album
7 The White Stripes – Elephant
6 Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
5 Arcade Fire – Funeral
4 The Strokes – Is This It
3 Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
2 Radiohead – Kid A
1 The Streets – Original Pirate Material

As Mike Skinner would say, fair play to them: it's pretty much spot on. I would argue about Kid A and Back to Black but apart from those two, most of the others would be on or near my list.

Kid A is the album where Radiohead and I parted company, only making-up again with 2007's In Rainbows. Sure it has some moments of 'profound beauty and deep emotion' as the reviewer says, it is just that there aren't very many and most of the rest of the album is pretty much unlistenable. Sure it is ambitious and managed to sidestep the massive expectations that had built up for a fourth Radiohead album, but it really is the sort of album that only a music journalist could love. Music for beard stroking, not listening or enjoying. Whenever I take a batch of CDs in to the second-hand record shop I always try to slip this one in, but the staff always spot it and hand it back wearily – 'sorry mate, we don't need any more of that one.'

Back to Black passed me by when it came out, but the Amy Winehouse tracks I have heard don't exactly make me worried that I am missing out on anything. And then the soap-opera of her life further obscured what talent she surely has and left me without any motivation to give her music a fair listening.

I also have to confess that I haven't heard the Salif Keita album (and suspect it got artificially nudged a bit higher so that there was at least one 'world music' title in the 10, although I was sure that honour would go to Amadou and Mariam's Dimanche à Bamako), but given its illustrious company I may have to investigate further.

And so for your reference here's my top 20 list:

20 The Delgados – The Great Eastern
19 Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
18 Lucinda Williams – West
17 Maxïmo Park – A Certain Trigger
16 Low – Trust
15 AC Acoustics – O
14 Idlewild – The Remote Part
13 Bruce Springsteen – The Rising
12 M.I.A. – Arular
11 Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling
10 Miss Dynamite – A Little Deeper
9 Malcolm Middleton – Into the Woods
8 Glasvegas – Glasvegas
7 Burial – Untrue
6 Portishead - Third
5 Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights
4 Arcade Fire – Funeral
3 The Streets – Original Pirate Material
2 Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun
1 The National – Boxer

I can't believe that Boxer or Ágætis byrjun didn't make the OMM list (not even the top 50!), but anyway please add your thoughts about either list, your lists or anything else that takes your fancy in the comments. Possibly I will write a bit more about the top 5 over the next few days, but I am not promising anything.

Coming up in December – the top 10 albums of 2009, my mix-tape of the year and possibly my top 20 songs of the decade ...

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