Another stellar year for music, full of innovation and fresh direction. My friends have been debating and discussing this for the past few weeks, and here are our intelligent conclusions on the best albums of 2010:
10) Wild Nothing – Gemini
Slightly fuzzy, kinda dreamy, very chilled-out shoegaze-garage pop from this one-man project. I've run out of genres to compare this record to, but trust me, this album is damn good.
9) Best Coast – Crazy For You
Having churned out handfuls of EPs and 7" singles over the past eighteen months, Best Coast managed to somehow step it up a gear in 2010 with their debut album, which is thirteen tracks of perfectly-crafted summer pop.
8) Gil Scott-Heron –
I'm New HereGil Scott-Heron triumphantly returned in 2010 with his first studio album in 16 years. Incredibly personal, the album interludes consist of Scott-Heron poetically and beautifully informing the listener with moving tales of his childhood and the grandmother who raised him, returning Scott-Heron to his roots as a spoken-word performer. Combine this with excellent covers of Robert Johnson and Bill Callahan, and you have a bloody fantastic record.
7) Deerhunter – Halycon Digest
Despite their prolific output, Deerhunter seem fresher than ever, effortlessly and expertly combining a number of very different musical styles - surf, punk, garage, 60s psychedelic pop, shoegaze and even ambient - into their best album to date.
6) Beach House – Teen Dream
Like the Wild Nothing album, I'm struggling to describe this album - words can't do it justice, you really have to listen to truly appreciate the dream pop excellence that is Teen Dream.
5) Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid
Ah, the flaws of democracy! This album should have placed higher, but a lot of my friends either missed out on the album when it first came out, or failed to recognise its brilliance. Yes, it's flawed, but what debut album isn't? Yes, it runs out of steam a little bit towards the end, but again, what albums truly don't? Ignore these minor errors, and you're left with an incredibly interesting, complex and innovative album that seamlessly moves between hip-hop and pop.
4) Four Tet – There Is Love In You
His best album yet, as Kieran Hebden finally manages to perfect his own brand of laid-back instrumental electronica. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
3) Caribou – Swim
Moving firmly away from the glitchy electronica that he made under his 'Manitoba' moniker, Daniel Snaith has got himself a band and, with the fuller sound possibilities that this has given him, produced a complex abum that spans the genres of electronic and indie music, and also suits any mood - whether I'm wanting to party or just looking to relax, Caribou is more often-than-not the first thing I think of.
2) Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
Further evidence of the flaws of democracy. Yes, it's a good album, but not one which will pass the test of time. I loved this album when it first came out, had the vinyl on repeat for days, but now I can't stand to listen to it. Newsom's vocals - extraordinarily beautiful on first listen - have become whiny, and that bloody harp just does my head in.
1) Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
By far the best album of 2010, Kanye's magnum opus (though watch this space for his 2011 collab with Jay-Z) grabs you by the throat on the very first play and just won't let go. His production is tighter than ever, his lyrics are both funny and poignant, and his choice of samples is sublime. Just a fucking incredible album that you need in your life NOW.