Top 10 albums of the decade so far

So we are at the halfway point of the decade. I started following new music in 2010 which was when I launched this blog. These are not necessarily the most acclaimed albums from the 2010s, but the albums that had the biggest impact on me, and which have outlasted the initial excitement. A mix of both established artists and new blood. I've included at least one album from each year, except 2015 which is ongoing.

Kaputt by Destroyer (2011)

(I love the production, which I think is the strongest of Destroyer's career. I wasn't expecting to love the saxophone and trumpet as much as I ultimately did. The band teased towards this sound on tracks here and there, particularly their 2009 EP Bay of Pigs, or even An Actor's Revenge from 2004)

Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (2013)

(Won several Grammy Awards. I just watched the documentary Daft Punk Unchained on TV in which it was said they spent years making the album. The opener is called Give Life Back To Music and remarkably they did just that. An album built to last)

Born to Die (Paradise Edition) by Lana Del Rey (2012)

(I love her vocal style, a breath of fresh air for popular music in the 2010s. Born to Die was her break-through album. The Paradise edition contains a bonus disc)

Lost In The Dream by The War on Drugs (2014)

(Probably the band’s finest collection of songs. Has been described by a critic as a spring time record, in how full of life it is. You may find it great, if you are a fan of Bruce Springsteen.
The album's title refers to a broken America, but it could just as easily describe the immersive qualities of the hazy, dreamlike music, which you can get lost in)

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West (2010)

(Though I find his conceitedness arrogant, the beats and lyrics are great. Poetry put to music. Even if you don't like hip hop, you should give this one a try. Arguably the best hip hop album of the decade)

Lyric: "And outta all the colors that'll fill up the skies
You got green on yo ur mind, I can see it in your eyes"

Push The Sky Away by  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2013)

(The lyrics per usual are well-written, and I even got my parents into this album. Gone is the rockier sound of earlier recordings, and it feels more accessible to a wider audience than his darker material. The quieter approach reminds me of The Boatman's Call from the 90s, which I also love)

The Great Beauty Soundtrack by Various Artists (2014)

(The Drive soundtrack was considered, and while it has decade defining songs, the instrumental tracks by Cliff Martinez are a bit overrated.
Instead I'm going with The Great Beauty Soundtrack, which is classical music, both old and new. Sold as a 2-disc set, disc 1 is the keeper)

Have One On Me by Joanna Newsom (2010)

(A sprawling, ambitious work you can put on and get lost in. Overlong and self-indulgent, yet also a beautiful, timeless album, which will still be relevant in 50 years. Disc 1 is especially great)

Tough Love by Jessie Ware (2014)

(Has grown on me, and should have been in my top 10 last year. Her debut Devotion (2012) has its moments and got better reviews, but many of the non-singles to me were emotionally unfulfilling.
Her second is my favorite to listen to in terms of the feeling it gives me, I could only find 2-3 weaker tracks, and the lyrics are timeless. On her 2014 album, she sings like it comes from a personal place)

Lazaretto by Jack White (2014)

(For me the album is enjoyable from start to finish. Perhaps I'm more excited and surprised about the solo album than his fans seem to be, because I'm mostly unfamiliar with his White Stripes output. Lazaretto was partly inspired by a collection of short stories, poems, and plays White wrote when he was 19 years old and rediscovered years later in his attic)

Honorable mentions:
Teen Dream by Beach House
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming by M83
High Violet by The National
Morning Phase by Beck
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves by John Maus
Senior by Röyksopp
Magic by Sean Rowe
Vanity Is Forever by Geoffrey O'Connor

Have you listened to any of the above? Which are your favorite albums of the decade so far?


  1. YEY for Lana being on the list! Cannot wait for the new album to drop next week

    1. @Sati: Glad you approve! I’m looking forward to Lana Del Rey’s new album as well. I just realized Lana hit the big 3-0 on June 21. Everyone gets older, even her!

  2. LOVE the Jessie Ware mention!

    1. @Fisti: Thanks, I listened to Tough Love in the car the other day and her album was better than I remembered! Devotion (2012) on the other hand I liked less.

  3. One thing your blog has taught me is how lazy/modernized I've become as a music listener. Where I used to consume batches of albums, I now hardly listen to any until I'm moved to by posts like this. Then I'll binge-listen for a few weeks before settling back into just hearing individual songs (not necessarily singles). That said, I'm a huge fan of...

    Pure Heroine by Lorde
    The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake
    Everybody Down by Kate Tempest (can't thank you enough for introducing me to this one)
    21 by Adele
    Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City by Kendrick Lamar (his follow-up, To Pimp a Butterfly is growing on me, too)
    Life is Good by Nas
    Back to Love by Anthony Hamilton

    Great post.

    1. @Wendell: Our music tastes differ (as usual), but I did enjoy a few of those albums you mention. Thanks for sharing your favorites of the decade, wasn’t familiar with Anthony Hamilton. I hope you give a few from my top 10 a try.

  4. Loved Kanye's and Lana's albums. Really looking forward to hearing Lana's new album next week...the tracks she's already released are so good and different from her previous work!!

    1. @Courtney: Happy you enjoyed those albums as well, they certainly did stand out!
      Will be interesting to listen to the new album by Lana.

  5. White is a musical genius that can do no wrong in my eyes and ears. I love the man. I'm a die hard fan of the White Stripes, and I was quite impressed by his venture as a solo artist, even if the sound and direction he took surprised me a bit.
    I was fortunate enough to see Jessie Ware live a few months ago. Her delivery is unique and full of soul. She has such an ease for music. I just wish her albums had standout tracks. None of it rises above the rest. In her case it's more about consistency and overall quality than timeless songs.
    As an album, I didn't have quite the same regard as the critics for Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In fact, I have the opposite criticism to my thoughts on Jessie Ware. I found a few standout tracks in Kanye's effort, but there was a lot of filler in between. However, any album with Power and Runaway deserves to be a part of such a list.
    I think I also commented to you that I wasn't much of a fan of Daft Punk's latest album. Once again, I thought it had a few standout tracks, but some of it was no more than passable. Surely an interesting new direction for them, and one that will continue to be influential to many musicians for years to come.
    I also feel similarly about Lana. Incredible talent and a few great songs to boot.
    I haven't really heard the rest, but I will check them out. Great collection Chris!

    1. @niels85: The discography of The White Stripes is on my to-do-list, as you say it's pretty different to his solo outings. My favorites so far are ”Seven Nation Army”(obviously) and ”We're Going To Be Friends”
      Cool you got to see to see Jessie Ware live! I agree about the consistently for her second album, which has many good songs. For me, her debut album was a bit cold and impersonal, although I do like the singles.
      Disagree about Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I thought the non-singles were strong. Perhaps the second half had a couple of weaker songs, but for me most of the album had a very high level.

  6. OH, I forgot to comment on La Grande Bellezza. Incredible movie with incredible music. I had the pleasure of watching it about two weeks ago and it blew me away. Being that I am 50% Italian I couldn't have been any more invested in the film. I found it to be both beautiful and immensely thought-provoking.

    1. @niels85: La Grande Bellezza/The Great Beauty is a soundtrack that hasn’t gotten much attention as an album experience, I love it. What’s great is the soundtrack has longer versions, which in some cases were shortened in the film. Agree on your thoughts about the film.

  7. Hi Chris! I've only listened to a few songs by Lana Del Rey but I really like her voice and her style. She's both edgy and romantic.

  8. Hey Chris, not sure if my comment from yesterday came through. I like Lana Del Rey's voice and style. Thanks for letting me know about The Great Beauty too, still need to see the film but nice to hear the soundtrack is great as well.

    1. @Ruth: Agree about Lana Del Rey’s vocal. Knowing your taste a little, I think you’d enjoy The Great Beauty soundtrack, disc 1 is classical music

  9. I'm relieved I know all of these. Saves me from the shame of never being able to write a list like this myself.

    1. Glad you got to hear these albums! I’ll await your list then

  10. Great picks, love that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy made the cut. Flawless album.

  11. Nice list! Daft Punk and Kanye would both probably make my top 10 as well. Not sure what my #1 would be... I might have to put something like this together, too.

    1. Eric @ The Warning Sign: Nice we agree on a couple of albums, and will keep an eye out for your list. Was easy for me to pick the top 6, 7-10 were tricky. I feel bad Arcade Fire and The National are in the honorable mentions since they are important contemporary bands(both very close to making my top 10)

  12. Awesome job! Thrilled to see Kanye West's album crack your top 5, and you know I love Random Access Memories, Tough Love, and Lazaretto. This gives me more reason to check out Kaputt and Have One On Me. ;)

    1. @Josh: Thank you! After reading what your #1 of the decade was I decided to give Kanye’s 2010 album a try, and I agree it’s brilliant. Hope you decide to explore Kaputt and Have One On Me.


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