by / December 15th, 2010 /

Best of Lists: Top Story: State’s Albums of 2010 – 30 to 21

We’re midway through our countdown of the year’s best albums (in our humble opinion of course) and the competition is hotting up. Today’s selection features yet more of this country’s finest alongside acts from the US, UK and – in one splendid case – Sweden. Don’t end up dancing on your own, leave a comment below and let us know your views…

Albums of 2010:
75-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

30. These New Puritans – Hidden

When indie rock bands deign to use a synthesizer or a time signature other than 4/4, it is traditional for journalists and fans to overreact, as if imagining that the Lost Chord has finally been located. Possibly down the back of Nigel Godrich’s sofa. In the case of These New Puritans’ Hidden, however, the surprise and delight is understandable. The album is evidence of a band who are prepared to work hard at approximating the sublime. On most tracks here (on closer ‘5’ for example), their effort – and that of their audience – is rewarded in style. (Ciarán Gaynor)

29. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today

Enter Ariel Pink’s brain and leave changed forever. Squeeze into the tight pleather of a 70’s Bee-Gee and genuflect in front of the crystal alter of 80’s MOR whilst wrestling through the freak vocabulary and attitude of early John Waters’ films and you have tipped the infected iceberg of this enthralling oddball. Melding the comfortably familiar with the darkly obtuse he creates his own musical labyrinth filled with melodic twists and thrilling turns. (Jennifer Gannon)

28. Cathy Davey – The Nameless

Cathy Davey’s finest album to date – no small accomplishment considering the standard of its two predecessors, and its chart topping status means that at long last commercial success has caught up to her widespread critical acclaim. Beyond all-conquering lead single ‘Little Red’ there is veritable selection-box of musical delights on offer. Davey portrays an astounding diversity across the 13 tracks of The Nameless, all the while maintaining her own trademark sound and as the common thread – from the eerie epic title track to the militant brilliance of ‘Army of Tears’ and the dreamy refrains of ‘Universe Tipping’. A must have album for 2010. (Elaine Buckley)

27. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks

It was high time Frightened Rabbit got noticed by the mainstream and with The Winter of Mixed Drinks the Scots did it in grandiose style without losing their inherent heart. By removing the harsher elements of their arrangements and vocals, the band lost none of their edge. By including huge sounding emotional touches and more focused songwriting, they became a better band altogether, and with ‘Swim Til You Can’t See Land’, one of 2010’s most enduring songs. (Niall Byrne)

26. Glasser – Ring

The constant comparisons to Bjork were symptomatic of the kind of lazy journalism that greets far too many female artists: if anything, Glasser was singing from a similar hymn-book as Bat For Lashes: tribalistic, rolling percussion, alternately dramatic and warm vocals, and a general air of exotic other-worldliness. Intricately crafted for sure, but songs like ‘Plane Temp’ were surprisingly straightforward and tuneful. (Daniel Harrison)

25. Twin Shadow- Forget

You can tell by George Lewis Jr’s quiff that Steven Patrick Morrissey may be one of his heroes; regardless, the stamp of the Smiths is all over some of the tracks on his debut Forget. But with the aid of clacking drum machines, foreboding synths and teenage-dream lyrics, Dominican-born Lewis has created an album all of his own. Produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, this is a real grower that reveals more and more of its spirit with every listen. (Aoife Barry)

24. Fight Like Apes – The Body of Christ & The Legs Of Tina Turner

FLA don’t do ‘difficult second albums’, instead opting for a record that took a while to reveal its full charms but, when it did, there was enough here to take your breath away. A huge step forward while maintaining touch with their roots, it confirmed that the band is here for the long run. (Phil Udell)

23. James Vincent McMorrow – Early In The Morning

From zero to heartbreak hero in less than a year, James McMorrow’s quietly released debut album picked up fanatics throughout the year, with listeners buoyed by his oaky falsetto and reverb-soaked powerful folk. Early In The Morning revealed its charms slowly and when it did it was a thing of great beauty. (Niall Byrne)

22. John Grant – Queen of Denmark

When former The Czars frontman John Grant returned to the studio, little did he and backing band / producers Midlake realise they had an instant classic on their hands. Recalling everything from early Elton John and The Carpenters to Bread and Dennis Wilson, Grant addresses questions of identity ranging from his teenage hangout (‘Marz’), middle class disappointment (‘Silver Platter Club’) and his sexuality (‘Sigourney Weaver’, ‘Jesus Hates Faggots’). What’s astonishing is the blend of tone: he handles all of these themes with black humour and jaunty melodies, which are given weight by fleeting woodwind instruments and delivered through his rich baritone voice. Grant and his listener find out, together, who he really is. What happens next, though, is more intriguing. (Phillip Cummins)

21. Robyn – Body Talk Part 1

Releasing Body Talk in three installments was a clever move. Part 3 compiled the highlights of parts 1 and 2 while adding extra tracks, but the very best bits are here on part 1. ‘Dancing On My Own’ is the sort of lump-in-the-throat stuff The Human League and Pet Shop Boys excel at, and ‘Don’t XXXXing Tell Me What To Do’ is Robyn at her confrontational best. Despite being a short album, there is still room for some gentle balladry, bits in Swedish and a dalliance with dancehall. Robyn packs more ideas into thirty minutes than some pop stars manage in a career. (Ciarán Gaynor)

Albums of 2010:
75-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1