by / December 4th, 2009 /

State’s albums of the decade – The Top Ten

And so we arrive at State’s ten finest albums from 2000 to 2009. An amazing six debut releases feature, including our highest polling record from this year. There’s also one of the decade’s most potentially exciting band’s final roll of the dice, the record that revitalised the Irish singer songwriter, a cult classic plus, of course, that album of the decade. Did we get it right? Let us know…

Albums of the decade: 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20 -11 | 10 -1

10. Florence & The Machine – Lungs (2009)

With a mere six months to impress us enough to make the list, Florence Welch rose up the ranks with some soulful yet garagey attitude (-Kiss With A Fist’), some love-at-first-sight covers (-Hospital Beds’), a fiery mane of the thickest red hair and some press shots of pure joy (her, falling off a chair). So we had expectations. But to deliver almost every song on your debut as an individually packaged gift, uplifting and soulful, perfect vocals filling every corner and making even your lowly headphones listener feel they’re in a vast space – well the young lady is truly on to something. The music exists between genres without ever landing on one though often there’s a nod to a certain prisoner no.1873015’s Wall Of Sound. The songs that you were pretty sure were your favourites change almost daily, but they are always lifting your mood, lifting your arms too perhaps and certainly lifting your ass off a chair. Lungs is rich, intriguing, escapist and sexy as hell. (Simon Roche)

9. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver (2007)

Having provided the preening electro-indie scene with a cold, reinvigorating shower in his debut, James Murphy somehow managed to rip the throat out of everything he’d helped create with the instantly classic Sound Of Silver. It’s hard to know if he’ll ever scale the heights of the heartbreaking ‘All My Friends’ or hypnotically rhythmic ‘Get Innocuous!’, but there’s no doubt that there’s genius at work here. Unflinchingly indie but unafraid of wearing its pop sensibilities on its sleeve, Murphy sums up an entire generation (and their record collections) with a startling dance-rock album that’s almost entirely perfect and stupidly essential. (Sophie Crowther)

8. Damien Rice – O (2002)

While the years after O‘s success saw Damien Rice gain a reputation as a bit of an arse and subsequently find himself portrayed as -the rich one who made it in the Shtates’ on animated series Eyebrowy, there’s no denying the savage immediacy, raw emotion and injection-of-life-into-a-stagnating-singer-songwriter-scene this album delivered. Rice has described song-writing as expressing ‘immature’ emotions in a more eloquent form and there’s a hefty dollop of narcissism and -woe is me’ to be found here – but the songs are mostly so good it doesn’t matter. The refreshing minimalism of the music and the breathy vocals, from both Rice and the astonishing Lisa Hannigan, lends O something of an uncomfortable but ultimately hypnotic vibe. Yes, the pained troubadour’s lyrical candour can be a tad cringe-y at times and he would clearly be a difficult -other half’ (not to mention one who might end up writing songs about you, eh Miss Zellwegger?) but when you have songs as impressive as ‘Cannonball’ or ‘Volcano’ up your sleeve does it really matter? (Adam Lacey)

7. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

The brittle, unforgiving cold of a desolate January shudders throughout this extraordinary ode to heartbreak, rumination and isolation. Whilst there are hordes of albums born in the unkempt bedrooms of unshaven men who’ve been shattered by women or life, Justin Vernon’s Emersonian exile to the backwoods of Wisconsin, in search of words and music to match his despair, redefines the sad-guy-with-guitar genre. Vernon infuses lyrically cryptic songs like ‘Blindsided’, ‘Re-Stacks’ or ‘Lump Sum’ with gentle production flourishes that evoke hoarfrost, the gunshot crack of melting ice and the muffled, steady crunch of snow underneath boots. In turn, the warmth of his husky, cracked tenor offsets the chill, beckoning us inside, just for a spell, for whiskey, a warm fire and a good cry if needed. A quiet, unsettling album – and a remarkable debut – that manages to not only capture the winter of one man’s discontent, but the universality of aching, snow-blanketed solitude. (Kara Manning)

6. At The Drive-In – Relationship Of Command (2000)

At The Drive-In couldn’t have continued. In 2000, no star burned brighter or faster than this extraordinary punk quintet from the Texas border town of El Paso. Their split in 2001 came amid a riot of hype the band were reluctantly receiving after an eight-year career, one that saw them widely hailed as -the new Nirvana’ and an urgently needed antidote to the boorish rap metal of the time. It wasn’t just the fact they had afros, their singer was called Cedric or that Iggy Pop provided guest vocals that did it. Fusing Latino flourishes, post-hardcore energy and an anger that was uncommonly sincere, ROC grabbed your attention, held it and then spat you out at the end. This is why so many people remember where they were when they first heard the tightly wound spasms of -One Armed Scissor’ or the twist-and-shout of -Pattern Against User’. For influence, it ranks as one of the biggest of the decade – its angular sonics and restless tempo shifts can be heard everywhere from The Redneck Manifesto and Bloc Party, to Battles and Foals, and beyond. (Hilary A. White)

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  • Agree mostly with this but where is Youth and Young Manhood from the KOL. It’s not even in the top 20! Odd.

  • Great to see Relationship of Command at number 6, so deserving.

  • ie_johnc

    No “Turn on the Bright Lights” in the Top 50!?
    For shame!

  • Fantastic album chart. When you look at this and then at Q’s its quite funny. You guys got it spot on in my opinion! I agree with Rachel on the KOL comment, would have liked to seen them there. Lets just say they came in at 11!

  • It is odd that Interpol and Kings of Leon didn’t really get a look in here but so be it.

  • Emmet

    Have to say, I’m quite disppointed by your top ten. To be honest I think its a little lazy and doesnt show what State stand for. All the usual suspects are there and even though I really like the Bon Iver album.. is it one of the top ten albums of the last 10 years? And Florence? No comment there.

    Completely agree with at the drive in, PJ Harvey and Kid A though. I suppose I just would have loved to have seen something different, a bit bolder. But hey, opinions are like assholes… everyones got one.

  • Hil

    …yeah and it’s never nice to have one rubbed in your face!

  • How’s that for a “rebuttal”?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist!

  • Sean

    Very disappointing, utterly safe and not very interesting list which says a lot about State, its writers and why it failed as a magazine. It was just not offering an alternative.

    Damien Rice, one of the albums of the decade? Please!

  • OOh,

    You clearly ignored the other 40 albums listed and went straight for the insults! Haha – GOOD LUCK!

  • I’m presuming readers (and commenters) realise this list was distilled from everyone’s individual lists and so it’s obviously going to exclude ones that were picked by a handful of writers and not by the majority? Ah, ‘name link-free’ keyboard warriors. Would there be any point in the internet if it weren’t for them?

  • Not what my personal top 10 albums of the decade would look like… in fact I think maybe if you flipped the 50 completely, it’d be closer…


    Massively scandalised by the absence of Album X. Also Album Y is way too high. Way to go State.

  • While there’s stuff I disagree with on the list (naturally), I must commend the inclusion of At The Drive In, and PJ Harvey- the latter of which I had almost forgotten about, but completely deserves to be here.

    I can even begrudgingly accept the fact that ‘o’ was a quality album, even if my opinion of Mr Rice has plummeted since then.

    Generally, a very good summation of the musical decade- kudos!

  • At The Drive In are just a phenomenal band. For me, neither Sparta nor the Mars Volta (who both formed from the remnants, just in case anyone’s not seeing the connection) ever came anywhere close. I wish they’d kept going just a little longer, as I came to love them just as the split. One of those things I guess.

  • I dunno, James, Mars Volta are pretty awesome…

  • Oh dont get me wrong, I like Mars Volta, I’d certain go out of my way to see them and buy the albums. But At The Drive In… borders on hero worship for me. Each to their own, though, of course 🙂

  • They’re both certainly excellent bands. Sparta never quite did anything for me though…

  • Yeah Sparta were not up to much, really. Are they still around?

  • I think I voted for like 2 of these, but they both made the top 5 (hooray!)

  • Patrick Conboy

    A pretty good summation of the past decade in my view and it’s good to see lots of people agreeing with the choices above.

    However, I’m amazed that the detractors can’t comprehend that this ‘Top 50’ was whittled down from lists submitted by over 20 writers. Of course each of us had our own choices that didn’t make the cut but, hey, that’s the nature of the beast!

  • untitled


    The postal Service was one of the ‘bestest’ Albums this deacade saw.. trés upset that it didn’t make it into states top 50…
    so many good bands came to my knowledge by this album.. the shins, iron and wine, calexico not to mention the obvious…

    but hooray on the diversity! lovin jay-z’s inclusion…

    you guys are all awesome!

  • Luke

    Florence & The Machine? Good album but not a hope of it being one of the top 10 of the decade – i reckon that will look like a bad choice in retrospect.

    Apart from that, cracking list – never heard of At The Drive-In so i’ll be checking that out. Despite what someone said above – great job State.


  • sean c

    I agree with most of that top 10. Definately agree with Bon Iver – and a cracking summary of it too!

    But where they bejaysis were Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, ay?

  • Hil

    I can understand some of this criticism. I had albums in my personal list that I REALLY wanted to, nay, HAD to, see in this countdown. Barnstorming classics by the likes of David Turpin, Steven Seagal, Embrace, David Turpin, to name but a few. But the Editors have had their say and, like the slippery flick of a French wrist, the Editors have the final word on such injustices. Thanks a bunch, guys. After all I’ve done for you.

    Next year, I’m calling for a top-10,000 list – that way, every one of you out in webland can finally see your beloved LPs in a list, and absolutely everyone can be accomodated, and not one single person’s ‘top-ten’ will be excluded. That would make you all much happier, wouldn’t it? Guys?

    Shame on you State. Your job should be to make every single reader feel special and happy and good about their taste in music.

  • Nice one Hil :P.

    +1 on Embrace, though, always had a major soft spot.

  • Just to point out that we the editors had nothing to do with it really, it was purely based on votes. Now that’s done, get ready for the albums of the year poll soon…

  • For me, this list misses out Wilco, Modest Mouse and Portishead, but nothing else. When I only have three complaints about a 50 album list, thats pretty good work (94% by my calculations. =D)

  • sean c

    +1 for Segal.

  • Hil

    I know. What a ledge.
    Form an orderly queue, ladies.

  • no journal for plague lovers, no dan sartain, no devendra banhart, no dizzee rascal, no eels, no goldfrapp, no mark lanegan and isobel campbell, no justin timberlake, no low, no m83, no portishead, no regina spektor aaaaaaaaand i could go on. how am i supposed to take this list seriously? i know it was taken from your contributors lists. but your contributors obviously know nothing about music

  • Sean Conroy

    OOOOOooorrr, maybe there wasn’t enough room in the top 50 for 100 albums…

    And in fairness JT and M83???…

  • I think, having taken a quick glance at Daniel’s list, we can leave it up to anyone who reads this to decide who knows nothing about music, and be fairly confident that at least nine times out of ten we’ll come out on top. Dizzee Rascal and Justin Timberlake?? M83? Low are fine, but up there with the best of the decade? I dont think so, but even putting everything else aside, I’ll say it again… Justin Timberlake?? haha… I cant recall him getting one vote (and yes, I can recall a few pop albums that did).

  • That JT album was bloody good though. You can’t please everyone. Even I was surprised by the inclusion of Lungs in the top ten and, as a contributor, I saw all the lists in advance!I guess it just didn’t register with me that so many people had picked it? Also, just to answer Daniel aswell, I do know quite a bit about music and I had none of those albums you mentioned in my personal top 20 of the decade. Should I be doubting my knowledge or just accept that different people prefer different things, hmmm? Daniel san?

  • Gareth

    Going to see Mars Vola this week and this was a great reminder of just how awesome At The Drive-In were.

  • KEe Kee

    I know i may have mentioned this on previous pages but Fionn Regans absence from this list is quite upsetting!

  • Dizzee Rascal? Laaaaaaaaaawl

  • Patrick Conboy

    Personally, I think we should donate a cup of ‘cop the fuck on’ to Daniel Hunt. It is the season of goodwill after all…

  • “I’ll say it again… Justin Timberlake?? haha… I cant recall him getting one vote (and yes, I can recall a few pop albums that did).”

    #1 on my list :'(

  • Albums keep occurring to me that I should have voted for… The Shins had a couple of great ones early this decade… these things are so difficult!

  • Fearghal Lawlor

    I dont agree at all with the top 10 list arcade fire funeral should be nowhere near the number one spot and flornce and the machine lungs should not even be in the top 50 list never mind the top ten, would have had kid A at number one myself glad to see pj harvey so high up the list aswell as at the drive in. But fair play state on the most part the list is fairly accurate nice touch putting youtube clips under each selection have discovered a few new bands already.