by / December 17th, 2010 /

Best of Lists: Top Story: State’s Albums of 2010 – The Top 10

Four days, 75 albums and now we arrive at our pick of the ten best albums of 2010. Two homegrown albums – very different in content – make the final list, alongside some of the year’s big international hitters. Thanks to our writers and photographers for contributing, we hope you’ve discovered something new along the way…

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


10. Vampire Weekend – Contra

Afrobeat meets sweet pop for a sunshine gathering of uplifting melody in this infectious, heart-warming follow-up album. From calypso to ska to dancehall to looping synths, the New York quartet have firmly embraced their eccentricities, and this unapologetic mission statement of contradictions and unusual juxtapositions is a true gem. (Louise McHenry)


9. Foals – Total Life Forever

Striking as 2008’s Antidotes was, the jury was always out on Foals. Yannis Phillipakis cockiness seemed to set the five-piece up for a fall, yet they shirked off any weight of second album expectations with one of the most richly emotive albums of the year. A real grower, Total Life Forever surprised in it’s subtly as the Oxford act sacrificed bluster for bloom in songs like ‘Spanish Sahara’ and ‘After Glow’, which saw them in turn dive deep into musical exploration. (Steve Cummins)


8. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

A concept album detailing their view of suburban life as a grey, wasteful place and the difficulties and possibilities of escaping it was what post-Neon Bible Arcade Fire delivered. As you’d expect, the album twists through orchestral movements and quiet acoustic moments while laying out snapshots of repetition and loneliness before the third act delivers an intense finale. A beautiful, visual story of ever-lonely kids (‘We Used To Wait’) and a worthy foray into disco details the desire for escape (‘Sprawl II’). The breath of the band is fully realised and extended slightly while Win’s lyrics often tug hard at memories and feelings. The single theme and the evocative writing in particular reminding us that ghost estates, in one way or another, were always with us. (Simon Roche)


7. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid

Not only was The ArchAndroid the most mind-bogglingly eclectic album of 2010, straddling tough rap, pure pop and floaty hippiness, it also announced the arrival of a funny, strange and compelling talent. It was a ‘concept’ album of course, but the most thrilling thing about the record was the sense that things could lurch off in any direction at any given moment. So ‘Tightrope’ was the energetic soul shuffle, ‘57821’ was Fleet Foxes style folk rock, ‘Cold War’ was an anthemic singalong and ‘Wondaland’ was cute hip-pop that harked back to the daisy age of De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers. A brilliant, risk-taking album. (Ciarán Gaynor)


6. Adebisi Shank- This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called Adebesi Shank

Like any great sequel, This Is…… took the best of what the Wexford trio had to offer on their first album and then turned the whole thing on its head. The result, one of the best Irish albums of the year and a sure contender for next year’s Choice Prize. If this was a computer game, think Streetfighter 2. It’s taken the best characters and signature moves from the first version (heart-thumping bass, angular guitar & frantic rhythm) and put them in a ring with some new ones (manga-esque synths, robo-vocals & asian melody) for a gut wrenching and bloody fight to the death. It’s unclear who wins in the end but by God, is it fun to play! (Julien Clancy)


5. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

Albarn and Hewitt’s cartoon creations may have had their roles tweaked somewhat on Plastic Beach, but musically this was arguably the strongest Gorillaz effort yet. Conceptually based on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a monument to human waste – the ecological themes lend the album a melancholic tone ,but a Gorillaz album is never going to be a funeral march: Gruff Rhys provides one of the catchiest pop choruses of the year on ‘Superfast Jellyfish’, ‘Stylo’ pays cheeky homage to Knight Rider and ‘White Flag’ takes a shot at orchestral hip hop. Besides, where else do you get Lou Reed, Snoop and Mark E. Smith on the same record? (Daniel Harrison)


4. Beach House – Teen Dream

This album feels like a dream you can’t quite wake up from. Victoria LeGrand’s breathy, androgynous vocals are unassuming and ethereal but don’t let them lull you into low expectations; Teen Dream is an album of some significance. Songs like ‘Walk In The Park’ and ‘Lover of Mine’ are indie-pop gems, but attempting to select standouts from this collection is ultimately futile because it works so well as a whole. No one else sounds like Beach House and in an industry where searching for individuality and originality is paramount, this is a very good thing indeed. (John Balfe)


3. Villagers – Becoming a Jackal

2010 was a breakout year for Conor O’Brien and his Villagers. A number one album, a Mercury Prize nomination and a dizzyingly good performance on Later…With Jools Holland confirmed what many of us had been saying for years – that this guy is something special. Becoming A Jackal has been rightly met with universal acclaim both here and abroad and, as good as it is, you can’t help but feel this is but the first ripple of what is going to be an astoundingly fulfilling musical output. The foundation has been well and truly laid, let’s see what happens from here. (John Balfe)


2. The National – High Violet

How do you possibly follow an album like Boxer? With High Violet, The National not only answered this question, but did it so emphatically that anyone would be foolish to ever doubt them again. An outstanding collection of songs from a band who seem to have a habit of making music that is nothing short of powerful – new meanings can be interpreted with each repeat listen; a totally captivating album from beginning to end. (Elaine Buckley)


1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

When Kanye proposes a “toast for the douchebags” on ‘Runaway’, you know he’s pointing the finger at himself. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is his confession box as he chews down on the over-egged hip-hop pie with his big jackass diamond teeth. It’s a Technicolor hip-hopera that makes R Kelly look sane — a gluttonous self-exorcism drenched in knife-edged electro, prog rock histrionics, sweeping strings and a staggering guest list that could fill a phone book. He even squeezes in an Elton John piano solo — and Elton probably recorded it while wearing a tiara. You know this shit is fuckin ridicu-lisss, but after three listens it’ll be tattooed on your brain for good. (Conor McCaffrey)

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

  • Dave Sanzkrit

    Kanye West? Too many embarrassingly poor lyrics, too many cheesy synth sounds, and out of tune singing.

    I’ll admit it’s his best album, he has improved a lot, but it wouldn’t be in anyone’s top 50 if pitchfork weren’t bought over by his label. The best part of his album is a sample from Volcano Choir’s “Still”

    It certainly doesn’t better any of the other albums in your top 10.

    Hype is a dangerous thing,
    but then again so is opinion, but that’s my thoughts on it anyway… :’)

  • I’d have to agree with Dave, but then again I hate Kanye (his music, but more than that just him, the tw*t), and I’m pretty sure I’m one of the few State writers who didn’t nominate him at all in my vote. I’ve still only listened to that album once, and while I keep being told that it has lots of layers to it and I should give it at least ten listens, frankly it did my head in, and I just don’t want to hear it again.

    Ah well, taste is taste. It would be no fun if we all agreed!

  • John

    Page 20-11 is missing

  • T$

    John

    The number 1 is missing from the end of the link, (the link reads “20-to-1” instead of “20-to-11”)

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