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  • Best Albums of 2010

    25. Feb. 2011, 21:57

    I've pretty much listened to every 2010 album I've wanted to, and each of them multiple times, so I figured it was as good a time as any to rank my top ten and add a little blurb about each. I don't know much about music, so it will be strictly subjective and opinionated. Bear with me!

    10. /\/\ /\ Y /\ - M.I.A.



    It didn't get the greatest reviews, but I really dug this tribute to/mockery of the Internet age, complete with M.I.A.'s trademark biting humour and an awesome title. It softens a bit in the middle (only to be redeemed by the brilliance of Born Free's opening drum solo), and I don't really like the new age note the album ends on, but it's still one of the most fun albums of the year. Plus, Sleigh Bells sample!

    Best tracks: XXXO, Born Free, Meds and Feds.

    9. Recovery - Eminem



    Another one that wasn't particularly well-reviewed, but, again, I loved the overall feel of the work. Eminem's "I'm a bad father and a worse husband" raps may not be new or innovative, but I found he changed things up enough with some terrific guest vocalists and some surprisingly catchy hooks. Eminem's always been a rather self-deprecating and ironic rapper, and I found he was at his best here.

    Best tracks: Love The Way You Lie, No Love, So Bad.

    8. Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place - Anberlin



    Pretty much the pinnacle of this mainstream, vaguely Christian rock act, it combines terrific melodies with great vocals to create a near-perfect rock album (grammatically incorrect title notwithstanding). I'd found Anberlin's previous albums to be a bit too... whiny?, but this removes the whine and just straight-forwardly jams. It's got its moments of slack, but it's overall the best work the band has ever done.

    Best tracks: Closer, Depraved, To The Wolves.

    7. Expo 86 - Wolf Parade



    This album (and the band as a whole) took a while to grow on me, but now I'd say they're one of my favourites. A few years ago I would've dismissed them as too soft, but now I quite like their alternative, distinctly Canadian brand of indie rock. Dealing heavily with nostalgia and memory (not unlike a higher album on my list from another Canadian indie rock band), as shown in the title, it's soft and yet hopeful, sad without being depressing. And the album art is way cool.

    Best tracks: What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Be This Way), Pobody's Nerfect, Yulia.

    6. High Violet - The National



    Another band I might not have liked a few years back, but this album, and the lead single specifically, really turned me onto them. The lead singer's deep, distinctive, baritone voice is only one aspect of this group, who seem to me to be Brooklyn's answer to the Editors (another of my favourite bands) in their dark, melancholy rock. This is certainly more melancholy than anything the Editors have done, and it certainly shouldn't be listened to if one is in a good mood. For those down days, though... it's perfect.

    Best tracks: Bloodbuzz Ohio, Sorrow, Lemonworld.

    5. The Suburbs - Arcade Fire



    This was my most anticipated album of the year, and in that sense it disappointed me - but only slightly. Softer and lighter than I was expecting (though only in melody), its themes and tones are nonetheless dark and brooding. A melancholic (are we sensing a theme here?) look at 70s nostalgia and suburbia (what else?), it's the near-perfect record for our uncertain times. And these guys can still rock out.

    Best tracks: Ready to Start, Month of May, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).

    4. All Day - Girl Talk



    Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are saying. That's not even a real album! He doesn't make any of his own music! But I disagree. I think there's a very definite art and craft to combining these samples into something that can be listened to and enjoyed. In the hands of someone less talented, it'd be a mess (just listen to - or rather don't - his early albums). Though this may be a post-modern kind of music, that doesn't make it any less impressive. It may be the most exhausting album I listened to last year, but it's also one of the best.

    Best tracks: They're impossible to distinguish between (and the album really is just one giant track), but if I had to pick one, I'd go with Triple Double.

    3. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West



    Yep. The best-reviewed album of the year is indeed one of my favourites. It's such a roller-coaster ride of musical styles, tones, and melodies, while retaining its central theme, that it's really hard not to dig this one. The myriad of guest vocalists - including, bizarrely, Chris Rock - and genre mashups only adds to the vast, operatic feel of the thing. Kanye may be an asshole, but he sure makes good music.

    Best tracks: All of the Lights, Power, Runaway.

    2. Treats - Sleigh Bells



    For a while this was my favourite album of the year, and it's still the most surprising to me. I only listened to it because the album art was cool and disturbing, but boy was I blown away. It's such a terrifically innovative combination of electronic distortion and bubblegum pop vocals, and it works perfectly. The best description I've heard is that "it's as if the weird rocker kid and the prom queen from high school got together to make an album". And that's exactly what it is.

    Best tracks: Infinity Guitars, Tell 'Em, Riot Rhythm.

    1. Interpol - Interpol



    Maybe not the most musically innovative or demanding album of the year, but I'll be damned if there was one that moved me more than this one. It's the essentials of my favourite music genre - dark, moody, guitar-based rock - stripped down, with no superficialities, accessories, or filler tracks. It's just 10 songs and 45 minutes of straight-up melancholic jams. And that's what I love the most.

    Best tracks: Lights, All of the Ways, Memory Serves.