Day 2 of my favorite albums of the decade is upon us, with albums 40 through 31 coming today. Before we start that, a recap of the list so far (you can see that post here):
50. Andrew WK - I Get Wet
49. The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike
48. Stars - Set Yourself on Fire
47. Badly Drawn Boy - About a Boy Soundtrack
46. Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
45. M.I.A. - Kala
44. of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
43. Hot Hot Heat - Elevator
42. The Stills - Without Feathers
41. Cake - Comfort Eagle
40. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
Recommended Track: My Girls
Why I Love It: While the cries of "album of the decade!" may have been a pinch strong at this album's release, the hype that this was Animal Collective's best yet was not. This is AC distilling their sound into more of a pop structure, as you can sense Panda Bear's influence (after 2007's stellar Person Pitch) becoming more and more prominent throughout. This may be the definitive headphones and audiophile album of the decade, as this album is all about rich textures and layers of sound. Not only that, but when they take us through the chorus on "My Girls" and we get the gleeful "Ohhh!!", there may not have been a more euphoric moment from music this decade.
39. The Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder (2007)
Recommended Track: 7 Stars
Why I Love It: The Apples in Stereo were another out of nowhere band for me, regardless of the fact that they had been around for 16 years before I knew any better. This album is one that is filled with delicious vocoder driven vocals, 70's pop instrumental arrangements, and a sunny disposition mostly about...science? Whatever it is really about (obviously I am all about the lyrical content here), this album is one that surprised in its ability to alternately get me screaming out vocals and to regress into a far more contemplative state. This is not an album weighed down by import, but mostly one wondering "can you feel it." Yes we can, and it feels good.
38. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (2006)
Recommended Track: Shakey Dog
Why I Love It: For all of the reasons Raekwon's Cuban Linx sequel is a success, so is this album. While for the most part Wu Tang Clan had a quiet decade, Ghostface exploded to become the most dominant voice from that crew. With his searing vocals, Ghostface tells us yarns of what a day to day life for a coke pushing gangster is like on the East Coast. Especially on "Shakey Dog", which is, to me, the apex of rap as a form of inner city storytelling. Not only that, but we get all kinds of guest appearances (including an honest to god Wu track), comic book and kung fu flick nods, and we learn a little about the metric system on the way as well. Who saw that coming?
37. The 88 - Over and Over (2005)
Recommended Track: Nobody Cares
Why I Love It: The 88 released one of the best albums of the 1960's, giving us rather straight forward pop rock tracks with soaring vocals, clap along rhythms, and tracks about sweet things such as coming home to your love, or things of that sort. Of course, the fact that it was released in 2005 to relative obscurity sort of alters that concept a bit, but that does not rob this album of any of its brilliance. While their follow up was...not strong, this album (which I found when I first started reviewing albums at my radio station in college) is laden with pop gems that I'd say match up with nearly anything from this decade.
36. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (2008)
Recommended Track: Hearts on Fire
Why I Love It: Cut Copy is a group that so effortlessly fused indie pop, electronica, and influences from the 1980's into their sound on this album that they were pretty much impossible to be denied. While it's true this album really doesn't intend to be much more than an album that is light, airy, and fun to dance to, it doesn't really matter. Cut Copy is so obviously comfortable with their identity and their sound on this album that everything they do ends up sounding like everything you wanted to hear from them, but you didn't even know it. That's how you know it's good.
35. Muse - Absolution (2003)
Recommended Track: Butterflies and Hurricanes
Why I Love It: Muse is one of the most incredible bands on the planet, as in many ways they are about as talented as anyone out there. For example, Matt Bellamy, lead singer, guitarist, and pianist for the group, can do all three things about as well as anyone in music today. Whether you're looking for a classically trained piano piece in the midst of a track, or an absolutely insane riff, or some of the most beautiful vocals you'll hear from any man, they'll deliver this and plenty more. This album became a very popular one because of a few standout singles, but the depth of the album is where the gems are hidden, such as the more slow burning pieces like "Butterflies and Hurricanes" and "Blackout."
34. Cursive - The Ugly Organ (2003)
Recommended Track: Art is Hard
Why I Love It: "When you get on stage and they scream your name...oh Cursive is so cool...". From the very moment I heard those moments, with the former part sang in standard style and the "so cool" part in the background with muted vocals, I immediately knew I was a little bit in love with this band. At first, I was drawn in by the arty aggressiveness of "Art is Hard" and "Some Red Headed Slight of Hand", but later on I was pulled in by the more introspective moments like "The Recluse" and "Staying Alive." About that time I started to realize just how stellar of an album this was, and it ended up being my favorite album by one of Saddle Creek's absolute finest. Front to back, this album is loaded with power, brains, and a hidden soft streak that they'll scream at you to ignore. Brilliant.
33. Spoon - Gimme Fiction (2005)
Recommended Track: I Summon You
Why I Love It: First, I have to say that if I was going to make a list of favorite tracks of the decade (I may still do that), "I Summon You" would have to be up there for the top prize. This album followed their less structured and more eclectic album Kill the Moonlight and really focused on focusing the bands strengths into more straightforward tracks. For the most part it was a success, as tracks like the aforementioned "I Summon You" and "My Mathematical Mind" end up being every bit as wonderful as anything else in the Spoon discography. However, it falls somewhere in between the spontaneity of Moonlight and the polished pop sound of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and that lack of identity keeps it in the 30's for me.
32. Phantom Planet - The Guest (2002)
Recommended Track: One Ray of Sunlight
Why I Love It: Alright, cool it with the laughter. If you're thinking "really? the band that made the O.C. theme song?" well, you'd be right. That is in fact this band. However, hidden under that overplayed (but infectious) track is an album that is 60's bubble gum pop at its finest. Loaded with more hooks than a meat locker and featuring more toe tapping beats than almost anyone should be expected to handle, this was my album of choice for one entire summer during the middle of this decade. It still stands up to the test of time as an album that will get spins from time to time, just because every once in a while you need a little bit of pop in your life.
31. Air - Talkie Walkie (2004)
Recommended Track: Alone in Kyoto
Why I Love It: Whether it's the simmering creepy beauty of "Run", the effortless cool of whistle happy "Alpha Beta Gaga," or the Eastern quietness of standout track "Alone in Kyoto", Parisian duo Air takes us on a journey through their sound on this album. The way they structure their purely electronic sound gives the album the feel that it is more organic than your average album of this sort, giving it additional weight and soul throughout. This is their masterpiece in my mind, and one of the best electro pop albums of the decade, assuredly.