by / December 3rd, 2009 /

Albums of the Decade: State’s albums of the decade – 20 to 11

Three Irish albums make it in to our penultimate count down, one from a new name, one from an old name and one from a name that was only with us for a frustratingly short while. Elsewhere there’s a strong European and American feel, with only a loud mouth from Birmingham representing for the UK…

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

20. Sigur Ros – ( ) (2002)

After being justifiably praised on high for 1999’s Ágætis Byrjun this, the follow up, is almost a concept album of purity, the only text on the white album cover and transparent booklet was the band’s name and website (they even include a request on the barcode and legal info sticker to remove after purchase). None of the songs were titled (it’s hardly even a real album name either) and onto this blank canvas the Icelanders painted a post-rock angelic landscape expanding on earlier orchestral approaches to their sound and mellowing them a little while still digging deep into the darkness. Tracing a path from heaven to hell through the barren Icelandic lava fields it is Handel’s Messiah for the electric generation and its own -Hallejluia’ chorus, the 12 minute closing track, descends from acoustic beginnings to a Bosch-like rapture and if you are luck enough to witness it live, the most intense moment you will spend in front of a band. (Simon Roche)

19. The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001)

He’s one smart cookie, that Jack White character. He knew exactly how to sound (dirty blues minimalism), what to say (mostly spoofs about him and Meg being siblings) and what to wear (any combination of black, red and white) from the start. But when The Strokes exploded in the same year, the window of opportunity had opened for the White Stripes and has remained open since. This record, their third, sealed the contract, charming everyone on this side of the pond with a playful take on the blues songbook by way of a rough-hewn garage approach. Desperado thrash (-I Smell A Rat’), grunge (-Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground’) and porchfront rockabilly (-Hotel Yorba’) were all present and accounted for. Along with Is This It, the garage rock axis of power was now firmly Stateside, and while The Strokes have struggled to match former glories, Jack and Meg have never looked back. (Hilary A. White)

18. Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)

Discovery is more than just an album of the decade – it is part of the decade in a way, like musical DNA. Almost ten years after it came out, the influence of Daft Punk’s monumental, big-hearted, retro-futuristic, and sublime take on house and disco can be spied everywhere. From Madonna videos to car advertisements, from underground blog-house nights to handbags-on-Saturday-nitez, the tendrils sprouted by this record remain as fresh and pervasive today as they quickly became upon its release. It wasn’t just about the music either. Daft Punk’s carefully constructed anonymous robo-aesthetic fast became iconic. Indeed, anyone looking for an image to define the decade in music could do a lot worse than picture two unknown entities in robot masks perched upon a Technicolor pyramid, pumping out oddly romantic music and waving benignly at a euphoric mass of humans below. (Darragh McCausland)

17. Panda Bear – Person Pitch (2007)

Before they released Sung Tongs, Animal Collective were the ultimate cult proposition – a group of willfully obscure envelope pushers who dabbled in extreme noise and clattering tribalism. Who could have ever suspected that a songwriting talent as awesome as Noah Lennox’s lay hidden within their thick soup of otherworldly howls and strange sounds. While later Animal Collective albums would showcase his gift for a giddy melody, it is on his second solo album Person Pitch that Lennox’s abilities achieve full flight. On it, he manages to strike a sublime balance between classic songcraft (just listen to the goosebump-inducing harmonies on ‘Take Pills’) and that questing sense of wonderment and experimentalism which made his main band so influential. ‘Bros’, the finest song on Person Pitch, is also one of the finest songs of the decade, and over 12 bewitching minutes it distills everything great about the album into one long exhalation of pure joy. (Darragh McCausland)

16. And So I Watch You From Afar – And So I Watch You From Afar (2009)

The whispers were there in Belfast from early in the year, that And So I Watch You From Afar’s self titled debut was – in the words of one music industry name – a masterpiece. They weren’t far wrong. ASIWYFA took the concept of an all instrumental album and turned it on its head. They’re a rock band, a metal band, a post-rock band. they’re whatever the hell they want to be. The record’s greatest strength was that, amongst the noise and mayhem, were actual melodies that stuck in your consciousness. It didn’t hurt that they were the live band of the year too. (Phil Udell)

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  • Just in case anyone hasn’t cottoned on yet, And So I Watch You From Afar’s debut album is beyond phenomenal. It deserves some serious, serious sales figures and lots of recognition. Just saying like…

  • KeeKee

    If Fionn Regans ‘The end of History’ is not in the top ten, I will not be happy……. And Takk, its surely better than either of the preceding Sigur Ros albums on this list?!