The Radio Dept – Running Out of Love (2016)
The most faultless band the 21st century has given us have never made a more perfect, more faultless album than the politically-charged electropop of Running Out of Love. Antifa anger + Inner City euphoria + PSBs melancholy = album of the decade.
Top tune: ‘We Got Game’
Tindersticks – The Something Rain (2011)
After a decade of halfheartedly treading water, the mighty ‘Sticks strolled suavely out of their no doubt impeccably shabby-chic comfort zone and delivered what is at least their third masterpiece. A twitchy, nervy late night record for listeners in search of comfort blankets but getting unsettling phone calls instead.
Top tune: ‘Medicine’
Cut Copy – Free Your Mind (2013)
On which our Australian heroes push the indie-dance-disco cheesometer up to 11 and deliver the party album of your – oh alright, my – dreams. Has sparked so much Bez dancing in my kitchen it should come with a free pair of maracas.
Top tune: ‘We Are Explorers’
Gravenhurst – The Ghost in Daylight (2012)
Tragically Nick Talbot, the man behind Gravenhurst’s criminally underrated body of work and his generation’s Nick Drake, died in 2014, and 2012’s typically, understatedly heartbreaking The Ghost in Daylight was a most fitting finale to a career that, one day, will be looked back on as one of the greatest of the early 21st century. Hopefully.
Top tune: ‘In Miniature’
Suede – The Blue Hour (2018)
The biggest and most delightful surprise of the decade was not that Suede returned – after all, which 1990s bands didn’t – but that they returned in such swaggering, arse-spanking style, as if they’d been frozen in carbonite since 1996. The Blue Hour was a huge, overblown and often ridiculous – and I mean that as a compliment – concept album about macabre rural goings-on, and was their finest hour since Dog Man Star.
Top tune: ‘Don’t Be Afraid if Nobody Loves You’
Jordan Ireland & Purple Orchestra – Jordan Ireland & Purple Orchestra (2017)
Sometimes an unknown, and unknowable, record comes along and just grabs right hold of your heart; such was the case with Jordan Ireland’s delicate, bucolic and utterly sublime 2017 debut. I don’t know who he is, and I don’t quite understand what he’s trying to do, but I do know it’s impossibly lovely.
Top tune: ‘East Coaster’
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity (2016)
Psych, garage, metal, punk and jazz combine on King Gizz’s eighth and most focused record. Designed to be played on a loop – and I could happily do so all day – it’s the most thrilling and inventive rock album of the century so far and both as dumb and as clever as you need it to be.
Top tune: ‘Gamma Knife’
David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)
The crafty old genius managed his departure with consummate grace, elegance and dignity, which only served to make Blackstar even more heartbreaking. Comfortably his best album since Scary Monsters, he effortlessly straddled squawking jazz experimentation and elegiac balladry, making sure he went out as a genuine legend deserves.
Top tune: ‘Lazarus’
Wu Lyf – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain (2011)
More bands should do this – record one euphoric, inspirational record that sounds like very little else on Earth, and then split up. Not enough bands do. Wu Lyf did, and this record still burns eight years on.
Top tune: ‘We Bros’
MONEY – Shadow of Heaven (2013)
Where the bloody hell did THIS come from, so perfectly formed and somehow mainlining its way straight into my heart? MONEY have made two almost-perfect records this decade, of which Shadow of Heaven is probably the better – a superficially dark, sad record that is ultimately uplifting and inspiring in its humanity.
Top tune: ‘Hold Me Forever’
Factory Floor – Factory Floor (2013)
Brutal, punishing and relentless, yet somehow joyous and funky at the same time, Factory Floor’s 2013 debut stripped dance music down to its absolute bare bones. A throbbing, pounding and strangely very sexy record that’s impossible to sit still to.
Top tune: ‘Two Different Ways’
Royal Headache – Royal Headache (2013)
A short, sharp shitkicker of a record, Royal Headache specialised in joyous two-minute hook-laden punk-pop with a real soul superstar of a singer, and their debut was absolutely irresistible. File next to The Go-Betweens in the ‘Should’ve Been Massive (Australian)’ folder.
Top tune: ‘Psychotic Episode’
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (2011)
The fact that Let England Shake sits on top of a back catalogue including the likes of Rid of Me and Stories from the City tells you just how great it is. Less an album, more a historical document, it should be on the national curriculum and be played on every radio station every 11 November.
Top tune: ‘All & Everyone’
OMD – The Punishment of Luxury (2017)
If Bjorn Borg had won Wimbledon in 2017 it still wouldn’t have been as brilliant and surprising a comeback as The Punishment of Luxury. OMD’s finest album since 1983’s Dazzle Ships was a remarkable set of perky synthpop and swooning electro-ballads which managed to sound both fresh and nostalgic at the same time.
Top tune: ‘Ghost Star’
VCMG – SSSS (2014)
Vince Clarke & Martin Gore’s first collaboration since Depeche Mode’s Speak & Spell was pure joy; a collection of bouncy, squelchy techno with occasional Proustian echoes of both men’s storied past. Certainly far better than anything their former band have done since the 1990s.
Top tune: ‘Windup Robot’
Johnny Marr – The Messenger (2013)
As his odious former bandmate continues to deteriorate both creatively and as a human being, Marr continues to give us all a reason to keep The Smiths in our record collections, and 2013’s The Messenger was a perfect reminder of his brilliance. Muscular, melodic indie-rock, lean and devoid of filler, and THAT guitar in abundance.
Top tune: ‘European Me’
Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here? (2010)
Emeralds’ homage to early 70s synth music was simply gorgeous, and frequently sounds as if the machines have been turned on and then left to their own devices. A record packed with flights of imagination and creativity.
Top tune: ‘Double Helix’
The Fall – Our Future Your Clutter (2010)
The Fall’s 27th studio album was a scabrous yet surprisingly tuneful set of stripped-back garage rock, with MES on top acerbic form. Packed with tunes and laugh-out-loud moments, it’s not just my favourite Fall album of the decade – it’s my favourite Fall album ever.
Top tune: YFOC/Slippy Floor
Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2011)
The perfect distillation of everything that makes Mogwai great, Hardcore remains the best introduction to this wonderful band and is a laser-focused album of post-rock, shoegaze and krautrock.
Top tune: ‘Rano Pano’
Snowbird – Moon (2014)
Simon Raymonde’s best record since Heaven or Las Vegas. Yes, it’s that good. A wintery, pastoral collection of truly gorgeous chamber pop, featuring extraordinary vocal performances from Stephanie Dosen. Its companion remix album Luna is just as good.
Top tune: ‘Bears On My Trail’