Mandatory Top 10 of the 2010s: The Best Music Albums of the Decade
The 2010s have been a chaotic decade for music. The music industry changed as much as everything else. Rappers showed their sensitive sides. The many feuds of Taylor Swift polarized America. The whims of sleazy record execs lost out to the internet’s democracy. Listeners transcended CDs, free to sail an endless sea of downloaded or streaming music. Despite this, the album endures as music’s dominant mode. From the warbling of Lana del Rey to the poetics of Frank Ocean, we look back at some of the best albums of this decade.
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10. 'The English Riviera' by Metronomy
From “The Look” to “We Broke Free,” this 2011 album’s electronic-pop cruises like a summer road trip. The band may have fewer original parts than the Tin Man, but they seem no worse for the wear.
9. 'Learning' by Perfume Genius
This 2010 album opened the decade with an emotional gut punch. Free from gimmicks, Mike Hadreas created a lo-fi masterpiece as fearless as it is feeling.
8. 'All the Little Lights' by Passenger
Michael Rosenberg delivers big feels with his falsetto singing and sorrowful strumming on this 2012 album.
7. 'Where the Light Is' by Surfaces
While most entries on this list are as dower and dark as the decade in which they were born, this 2019 album is upbeat in message and sound. It’s hard to be in a bad mode while listening to these relentlessly positive earworms.
6. 'Soft Hair' by Soft Hair
Undulating, intimate, and strange, the album finds its groovy stride. This long-awaited collaboration between Connan Mockasin and Sam Dust delivers a mix of sounds as weird and whimsical as its creators.
5. 'Bon Iver' by Bon Iver
Bon Iver’s second album was no sophomore slump. It’s a richly woven tapestry of twinkling stings, soulful vocals, and a vision that goes for miles and miles.
4. 'Flowers' by Sin Fang
This 2013 Icelandic folk-pop tour de force crackles with energetic nostalgia. Close your eyes, turn up the volume, and get ready for an auricular journey.
3. 'Oddblood' by Yeasayer
This 2010 album and the music video for its second song, "Ambling Alp," were much imitated throughout the following decade. It’s not hard to see why, as it is a veritable psychedelic zoo of electronic sounds and catchy beats.
2. 'Born to Die' by Lana Del Rey
Simultaneously deadpan and melodramatic, Lana Del Rey’s 2010 debut album is as popular as it is lambasted by snarky music blogs. On this list, however, the queen of Coney Island’s reign is as eternal as it is affected.
1. 'Blonde' by Frank Ocean
Coming in at No. 1, Blonde by Frank Ocean brings listeners on a sonic sojourn that captures the decade’s highs and lows. Seldom does an artist exceed such sky-high expectations, but Mr. Ocean sails past the clouds and into the heavens with this album.