by / December 23rd, 2009 /

Best of Lists: State’s albums of 2009 – 30 to 21

Our 30 to 21 list features a rock and rock supergroup, the unlikely comeback of some rave warriors, the return to form of a mid-’90s guitar spillers, the world’s most bombastic rock band, an album inspired by UFOs, a group of Scotch heros, Sheffield’s finest candlelight troubadour and Bradford Cox.

Albums of 2009:
75-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-1

Them Crooked Vultures

30. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Dave Grohl has described his friendship with Josh Homme as -special thing’, a psychic musical bond forged during his spell behind the kit with riff-pop monsters Queens Of The Stone Age. That album, Songs For The Deaf, put an ominous smile on all our faces, so news that the two would reunite with some bloke called John Paul Jones was widely hailed as -a good idea’. But those who expected part two of that LP were missing the point. Lately, all three men have hit below their weight with their respective acts which is why they sound like they have something to prove here. And it’s good to hear them sweating properly on slippery fish like -Reptiles’ or the pulsating high-hat workout of -Gunmen’. It’s not all pretty – -Warsaw’¦’ is hard to love – but the quality of the playing is simply too rich and rare to ignore. A primordial hard-rock soup. (Hilary A White)

The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die

29. The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die

In theory, 2009 should have seen The Prodigy, if not dead, then certainly buried. No new album since 2004’s underwhelming Always Out Numbered, Never Outgunned and a messy Oxegen performance the previous year meant that, to be honest, the prospect of new material was less than thrilling. That they made it to Invaders Must Die at all was one surprise, that the record itself was so damn good was another, more major one. Liam Howlett moved forward by simply looking back and creating the kind of old skool rave record that made us love them in the first place. Comeback of the year, no question. (Phil Udell)

Built to Spill - There Is No Enemy

28. Built to Spill – There Is No Enemy

After two patchy albums, There Is No Enemy marked a rejuvenated return for mid-’90s guitar stalwarts Built to Spill. Eschewing the meandering tendencies that bogged down many of the songs on their previous album You In Reverse, main man Doug Martsch channeled his wayward muse into melodic shapes that cleverly managed to not only reference their energetic early albums, but to unfurl in a contented haze – a sort of blissful middle-aged spread. (Darragh McCausland)

Bell X1 - Blue Lights On The Runway

27. Bell X1 – Blue Lights On The Runway

Leaving the major label stable and forming your own indie doesn’t often work to raise a band’s profile, but in Bell X1’s case, that’s exactly how it transpired. A distro deal with US label Yep Roc (Paul Westerberg, Robyn Hitchcock) has substantially boosted the Dublin rockers on those shores, and Blue Lights On The Runway is the sound of a band gently and subtly expanding its horizons. The Talking Heads/post-punk influence is massive, particularly on the -And She Was’-aping -Great Defector (from which the title is taken), but there’s also a great deal of continuity in tracks like the electronic -The Ribs Of A Broken Umbrella’ and piano-driven -Blown In,’ both of which would sit comfortably beside material from 2006’s Flock. (Dave Donnelly)

Muse - The Resistance

26. Muse – The Resistance

Just how Muse were supposed to progress after the space-rock epicness of Black Holes & Revelations was anyone’s guess. But knowing they’re a band who’s sonic evolution has been unfalteringly constant, the prospect of that album’s successor was a mouthwatering one. The Devon three-piece didn’t disappoint. The Resistance is a towering slab of proggy, spacey rock virtuosity standing firmly on the shoulders of its predecessor. And with the band taking over production duties for the first time, they used the opportunity to try out some unconventional approaches to their songwriting. The result is that, alongside the familiar structures found in tracks like ‘Uprising’ and ‘MK Ultra’, there’s moments like the distinctly Timbaland-esque ‘Undisclosed Desires’ and the magnificently exuberant three-part ‘Exogenisis’ rock symphony. The Resistance is a bafflingly brilliant album that commands repeated listening. (Patrick Conboy)

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