The Noughties: The Best Albums Of The Decade
The noughties have ended, and looking back on the last decade it's plain to see that the face of the music industry has changed irreversibly. With the dawn of the internet, music has become progressively more available, and the standard of innovation and diversity has never been higher. With that in mind, here's some of entertainment.ie's favourite albums from each of the last ten years.| Words: Jenny Mulligan
Elliott Smith - Figure 8
'Figure 8' was the last album released by Elliott Smith before his tragic death in 2003. Though it’s by no means the Nebraska songwriter’s definitive work, it is his most user-friendly, filling out his sound with a full band, while occasional saloon style piano gives something of a vaudeville quality to proceedings. But while those bubblier, more optimistic moments are visible on the surface, Smith once again touched on the universal truths of loneliness and rejection. As was his forte, Smith filled Figure 8 with simple yet poignant lyrics that are as moving today as they were when he wrote them.
Daft Punk - Discovery
The second album from French electronic funk music duo Daft Punk built on the foundations of their breakthrough debut 'Homework', with even more 70s and 80s samples transformed by dance beats, disco synths and Auto-Tune aplenty. A concept album of sorts 'Discovery' provided the soundtrack to the Japanese anime film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, which is either super cool, or incredibly naf, depending on your view of things. One thing's for certain, over the last nine years, its songs have become thoroughly engrained in the public consciousness, even becoming samples themselves.
Bright Eyes - Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground
Though 'I'm Wide Awake It's Morning', Bright Eyes' breakthrough album from 2005 has been more often listed among the greatest albums of the past decade, it’s this lengthily titled gem from 2002 that is Conor Oberst's true masterpiece. Oozing with bitterness, despair and self-deprecation, 'Lifted' is almost uncomfortably intimate with its themes of pure lust, loss of faith, abuse, selfishness and self-doubt. On top of that, Oberst created dark and bitter arrangements that were awkward and elegant all at once. But it's the juxtaposition of these dark and twisted ideas with moments of kindness, innocence and hope that makes 'Lifted' one of the most beautiful and lasting albums of the noughties.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
Since the release of their debut album 'Fever To Tell' in 2003, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have gone on to become one of the most influential rock acts of the noughties. There’s something intoxicating about the raw energy of 'Fever To Tell', with its rough-edged electric guitars stabbing and scrubbing among solid punk drums and occasional strident synth sounds. At the time, the young Karen O was a sprightly new face, her rasping, croaking and squealing vocals as intriguing as they were appealing. Meanwhile, a softer side was showcased on the delicate love song 'Maps', adding a further dimension to what was undoubtedly one of the most captivating albums of its time.
Arcade Fire - Funeral
When small-time indie outfit Arcade fire released their debut album 'Funeral' in 2004, it took its time to grow in the hearts and minds of the people. But, fuelled by word of mouth praise and rapidly increasing airplay, it wasn't long before the Canadian ensemble were poised to take over the world. The album became a unifying force, loved by so many for everything from its grand scale and epic choruses to its dark and sultry slow numbers and its bilingual exoticism. With its innovative blend of classical and rock instrumentation, Funeral's success was unprecedented, and it is now seen as one of, if not the best album of the last ten years.
Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
A subtle and graceful work, in 2005, Death Cab’s ‘Plans’ was a slow burner. On first listen, it seemed a pleasant enough little album but it was only with repeated listens that its full depth was discovered. Its soft piano and rhythmic patterns became hypnotic, soothing, reassuring. Its lyrics paint vivid pictures of and explore the nature of love in its various forms, from young love and lust to the indifference of old age to love beyond death. And so, ‘Plans’ is as relevant today as it was on its release, and it's sure to stay that way.
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not
In 2006, a (very) young band from Sheffield re-invigorated not only their local music scene but English rock music in general. Preceded by two UK number one singles in 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' and 'When The Sun Goes Down', the buzz about Arctic Monkeys was tremendous, and it soon became the UK's fastest selling debut album ever. Winning over fans with their youthful vigour, shameless humour and sharp wit, Alex Turner and co. paved the way to their current status as one of the UK's biggest bands.
Feist - The Reminder
Damn that bloody iPod ad. It seems to have tarnished the credibility of an album that for all intents and purposes, has everything. Leslie Feist's third album is a long way from her roots with the Broken Social Scene, putting forth joyous pop numbers with contagious melodies, orchestrated with strings, brass and piano. On the other side of the coin, Leslie's strikingly beautiful voice is the focal point on a number of sparse, unpredictable ballads about regret, infidelity and self-control, tinged with bluesy and jazzy undertones. There's a song here for every mood, every tone, every purpose, which is why it's such a keeper.
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes are an odd bunch, aren't they? It's like the Seattle folk outfit transport you back in time, to when your parents had long hair and wore bell bottoms and Simon and Garfunkel were the height of cool, or to when minstrels played lutes in the court of the king. It shouldn't work, but when their timeless melodies are filled out by warm, smooth harmonies and traditional instrumentation, the result is irresistible. Soaked in reverb, the Foxes' voices soar and their thunderous percussion rumbles steadily in sync. In just one short year, Fleet Foxes have brought about a massive revival in alternative folk music, and an onslaught of copycat bands.
Florence and The Machine - Lungs
No one act has had a bigger impact on 2009 than Florence and the Machine. Their infectious debut ‘Lungs’ has a certain mass appeal that lies in its strong pop melodies. Yes, the young Florence Welch has a voice that soars and swoops, cracks and roars, to be anything from a meek warble to an echoing howl. But that's not what makes 'Lungs' feel fantastical. Perhaps it’s that magical harp that twinkles around an abundance of warlike drums. Or perhaps it's all that talk of breath and air, the sun, moon and stars and darkness and death. Whatever it is, it’s created a buzz around Florence that will see 'Lungs' remembered long into the oncoming decades.
What are your favourite albums of the noughties? Let us know in the comments below...
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Wednesday 30th December 2009 | Music
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