Top 25 Albums of 2010

12/08/2010 1:00 AM |

#10 Vampire Weekend


Perhaps this will seem like an inappropriately forthcoming thing to say in this space, but something tells us if this record came out a little later in the year, it might appear a good deal higher on a lot of lists. If you’ll remember, Contra is basically everything you liked or hated about the band’s debut from a few years earlier, but intensified by quite a bit. It flaunts its class concerns even more than the first one, it’s even prouder of its disparate musical influences than the first one, and it’s even more set on getting you to dance than the first one. It’s smarter, too, with more to say, and a more developed sense of nuance in different situations. If they can keep up this pace for even one more album, it’ll make for one of the most impressive runs in recent history. Key track: “Diplomat’s Son”

#9 Allo Darlin’

Allo Darlin’

It would be easy to write off Allo Darlin’ as just another hopelessly cutesy twee pop band from across the pond, and the truth is, if you’re turned off by that sort of thing, well then it seems unlikely you’ll change your mind. But know this: the self-titled full-length debut by this London-based band is an absolute masterpiece of the form—there are pop culture references as far as the eye can see, there are vocal harmonies at every turn, and there’s even a pronounced reliance on the ukulele. But there are also melodies so addictive and crystal clear, completely unobscured by noise or reverb or general disregard for fidelity. This isn’t the most stylish record of the year, but it’s the most openly joyous and fun. Key track: “Kiss Your Lips”

#8 Big Boi

Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

We knew Big Boi had this one in him, that all these years he’d just been playing the (relatively) straight man to Andre 3000’s freaky extraterrestrial, and the interminably-aliased smooth-talker proved as much with his official solo debut. Chico Dusty plays like a collection of vintage Outkast tracks tweaked and tossed in a blender with contemporary producers (Lil Jon, what!?) and some extra bass to really juice the whole mix up. From the thesis-statement banger “Daddy Fat Sax”to the closing work-out anthem on acid “Back Up Plan,”this one’s as deep and repeat-worthy as your favorite Outkast album. Key Track: “Fo Yo Sorrows”

#7 LCD Soundsystem

This Is Happening

James Murphy is himself, as he puts it, “living proof that sometimes friends are mean.”His putdowns come from the disappointed hope that someone out there will start doing it right so that he doesn’t actually have to. On LCD Soundsystem’s immaculately crafted (maybe) swan-song, This Is Happening, Murphy is warmer than ever in his own peculiar way, promising a lover he can chill out if she’ll stick around, chastising listeners for letting productive time slip away, and counseling friends to realize how good they’ve got it, right here, right now. Accompanied by some of the sickest beats and butteriest synth tones possible, the old grump has weirdly transmogrified into that po-mo Peter Pan, Ferris Bueller, advising everyone to stop and smell the roses as the beat goes on and on. Key Track: “Dance Yrself Clean”

#6 The Tallest Man on Earth

The Wild Hunt

As you probably know by now, The Tallest Man on Earth is actually a fairly diminutive Swedish man named Kristian Matsson, and as you also probably know by now, he writes bare-boned folk songs and sings in a voice that has gotten him compared to Dylan over and over again. What you may not know, though, is that those songs are extremely effective, driven by some truly dazzling, dexterous guitar playing and some of the most commanding singing you’ll hear anywhere, with a grasp of dynamics that makes the whole thing impossible to ignore.
Key Track: “You’re Going Back”

9 Comment

  • for me Titus Andronicus “No Future Part III: Escape From No Future” is track of the year. Nice list.

  • The lack of The National’s High Violet is a major oversight, especially for such a Brooklyn-centric publication.

  • the title of this list be top 25 albums for hipsters. All of their “rock” stuff listed is such a carbon copy of that “indie” soft rock that’s so narcisistic (excuse my spelling) which I think might be the fruition of the facebook generation which is completely self-absorbed in their trivial personal drama and completely removed from reality.

    For example, you have a song like Suburbs from Arcade Fire and you have a great opportunity to talk about real issues regarding suburban sprawl, sustainability, and the advent of the car-economy and super-consumerism. Instead, it’s personal nostalgia for simple days growing up as a white teen in the suburbs.


    (What’re your top 10 albums of the year, that we might more easily situate you within a specific demographic based on your musical taste?)

  • The spelling I can excuse.

  • Nice list. Wasn’t that Charlotte Gainsbourg album released in 2009 though?

  • @madluke
    Nope, Jan 26, 2010.

  • Easy mistake. 🙂
    Nevertheless I like this list more than most. A few albums I’d have liked over others but you can’t please everyone. 🙂

  • Nice list, and you obviously have good taste (thankfully) – I agree with the earlier poster and think that High Violet should be in there. The other big omission to me is Plastic Beach by Gorillaz which I think was one of the most inventive and downright fun records in years. But good job and I love your column!