Friday, December 27, 2019

My Top Ten Albums of the Decade (2010-2019)

With the close of this decade fast approaching, and reading various top ten lists of the decade, I figured I would make up a few lists myself, beginning with my favorite albums of the decade. My criteria for my choices were simple: the album had to be on my phone playlist, one that I still listened to, I had to own the CD, and it couldn't be a compilation or a soundtrack. These are my own personal favorite albums of the decade, which I'm sure will be very different from most lists, and is not meant to be objective at all.

10. Goldfrapp Tales of Us

In the first decade of the 21st century, Goldfrapp released some of my favorite albums, and I would travel to New York upon each release to attend her concerts, which always were very different from each other and quite mesmerizing, as she has the probably the best female live voice I have ever heard. But this past decade she only released two albums, and the best of the two was Tales of Us released in 2013. It is not as great as her previous albums in my opinion, but it is probably her most sophisticated work, dreamlike, moody, emotional and cinematically lush. Someone described it as gorgeous and terrifying at the same time, which I think is a good description. This is the only concert of hers that I attended where everyone dressed really nice, as if we were attending an opera, and an orchestra accompanied her performance.

9. David Bowie Blackstar

David Bowie is perhaps my second favorite musical artist of all time, but it had been a long time since he had come out with a great album, even though Bowie was never really a "great album" type of artist. But this his final album which he recorded as he was fighting cancer and was released two days after his death in 2016 is truly a great album. It received universal acclaim, and amazingly he reinvented himself, as was his custom throughout his career, just before he died. It's a majestic album especially when viewed in its context and should have a place in every list of the best of the decade.

8. Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe 2

Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe released in 1998 was one of my favorite albums of the 1990's and it continues to be a favorite of mine, and though I've enjoyed all his subsequent albums none of them ever reached the greatness of his 1998 album (though his soundtrack for House of a Thousand Corpses comes real close). Knowing that his fans wanted him to go back to that type of rock album, Rob Zombie released Hellbilly Deluxe 2 in 2010. Though not as great as the first album, it is a worthy successor and really fun to listen to. The songs on this album sound really great when performed live. I include this album in my list not only because I really enjoy it, but primarily because its rare for an artist to go back in their career and give the fans something they really want from the artist they love, and for this I honor his decision.

7. Dead Weather Sea of Cowards

Dead Weather is a side-band made up of four members from four of my favorite bands of the 21st century, and I've really like everything they put out. Their second album, Sea of Cowards, was released in 2010. I especially like the sinister tension and sexual aggression displayed in the performances of Alison Mosshart and Jack White. Entertainment Weekly summed this album up well when it said it was "35 minutes of furious guitar solos and demonic howls."

6. Lorde Pure Heroine

Pure Heroine is the debut studio album by New Zealand singer Lorde, released in 2013. What distinguishes this album from much of everything else that was released at the time was the mixture of mystifying and alluring pop beats to a voice that suited the mood well. It deals with youth and critiques mainstream culture, exploring wealth, fame, consumer culture and social status. It is almost a response to Lana Del Rey, whom she has been compared to. In an interview she said the lyrics detail "the mundanity of teenage life" and celebrate the "often ignored intelligence of the next generation." Jason Lipshutz of Billboard characterized it as "immaculate" and summed it up as an "exploration into the soul of a quiet girl in the Internet age, trying to feel something and not envy everything." With really good songs mixed with the message, its hard not to love this album.

5. Lana Del Rey Born to Die

Born to Die is the second studio album by Lana Del Rey, released in 2012. Her music is a contrast of contemporary electronic/dance music with a cinematic sound accompanied by dramatic string instruments and a low feminine vocal. The lyrics are about love, sex, and drugs, and features prominent references to 1950s and 1960s Americana. Though the album received only generally favorable reviews, with the main complaint that it sounds like the singer is bored and fake, I think it is one of the best albums of recent times, especially if your in the right mood for it.

4. The Kills Blood Pressures

The Kills released Blood Pressures in 2011, and was their most ambitious and accomplished album. With this album, the blues-punk duo built another near masterpiece. It is their darkest and sexiest album, solid as a whole with a heavier sound than their previous albums. When it came out, I listened to it almost daily.

3. The Pretty Reckless Who You Selling For

The Pretty Reckless is probably my favorite newest band to come on the scene, which is odd to say because the lead singer was a well-known child and teenage actress before turning to rock music at the age of 16. I got into her music when she was 17, before I saw her open on two occasions for Marilyn Manson, and found her very impressive as an artist. With each album she has released, she has evolved and matured. Her last album, Who You Selling For, was released in 2016, and it is a batch full of great and memorable rock songs covering a range of emotions and sounds.

2. P.J. Harvey Let England Shake

P.J. Harvey may be my favorite female musical artist who never disappoints with what she releases. Let England Shake is one of her best albums. In 2011 it was voted Album of the Year in many publications. It was recorded in a church in Dorset, the lyrics were written before the music, it was influenced by some of P.J. favorite poets, artists and musicians. This album has its own voice and own musical sound which features the autoharp, distinguishing it from her other works. It is about conflict and heavily influenced by the Gallipoli Campaign and testimonies of modern soldiers who went to war in the Middle East. The album is clever, impressive, timely, ethereal, creative and all around extraordinary.

1. Marilyn Manson The Pale Emperor

In the 1990's and 2000's Marilyn Manson topped my list of favorite albums for each respective decade, and he continues to produce the most impressive albums to date. The Pale Emperor was released in 2015 and was signaled as a return to form by Manson, who collaborated with Producer Tyler Bates to create a sparser, blues rock-influenced sound. Like much of Manson's later albums, it is very cinematic in sound. Throughout the album, Manson sings in a different key than on any of the band's previous releases, and Bates has said that the vocals on the album are stripped down in comparison to previous records, which he considered to be overproduced. Some critics called this album the best ever produced by Manson, and one music publication which recently named one of its songs ("Third Day of a Seven Day Binge") the best song of the decade, described it as "a satisfying listening experience from top to bottom." Personally I would place this album as either my sixth or seventh favorite album of his, but it is certainly my favorite album of this decade.