Updated: Jun 30, 2021
In the age of streaming and playlists, these albums prove that the full length is here to stay.
Arctic Monkeys - AM (2013)
AM is a definitive rock album of the decade. Alex Turner’s visual transformation into a classic, black jacket rocker was matched with the band’s sonic shift to a refined rock sound. Less a musical experiment, more a reconstruction and retelling of the great rock albums that had come before.
Ásgeir - In The Silence (2013)
One Little Indian Records
There is an inexplicable appreciation of the thematic nature of music that seems almost exclusive to Nordic artists. In the lyrics, you can feel the untold history of a legendary landscape that soars over glaciers and mortal hearts alike. Yet it’s achieved by a marriage between the acoustic and electronic by dream-like vocals unheard elsewhere.
Ball Park Music - Puddinghead (2014)
Stop Start / Inertia
Emotional, vulnerable and completely eccentric, Puddinghead captures all the best aspects of Ball Park Music. Indie rock and pop galore, the album seamlessly transitions from tumultuous emotional lows to moments of unexpected joy.
The Black Keys - El Camino (2011)
Named for the car Dan and Patrick had spent years touring and sleeping in, El Camino saw The Black Keys finally achieve the mainstream recognition and success they so rightly deserved. It had taken six albums, but El Camino was the perfect combination of their blues roots and a timeless rock ‘n’ roll sound.
Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe (2011)
The capital of the world. The city that never sleeps. New York. Cupid Deluxe is an ode to Blood Orange’s adopted city. It showcases the best of the world's culture capital through lush synth-pop indebted to the 1980s.
Bon Iver - Bon Iver (2011)
With the addition of more sophisticated instrumentation, Bon Iver elevated their wintry folk-pop to new heights. The sounds are mesmerising, lifted by graceful vocals, through dense yet soft-hearted lyricism. There is a distinct war between silence and tremendous volume - executed perfectly between your ears. It is an album for the quiet, for the uncertain, for the alone.
Chief Keef - Finally Rich (2012)
Interscope / Glory Boyz
It’s ignorant and nihilistic. It’s anthemic and triumphant. It’s the most influential rap album of the decade. With Finally Rich, Chief Keef became the father to drill, mumble rap and hip-hop’s new punk aesthetic.
CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe (2013)
Virgin / Goodbye
It's one of the best debut albums of 2013. The Bones of What You Believe is a seamless collection of glistening vocals by Lauren Mayberry perfectly layered above robust synth melodies. It proves that synth-pop isn't just repetitive loops fit for dance clubs alone. It helped revive the genre in the indie sphere.
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think...(2015)
Like all great albums it's polarising. Somewhere there’s a disdain for the campy drone of the melody lines - for the smart but not book smart lyricism - for the moments where it seems like Barnett forgets she’s singing a song. Even so, this is an album for everyday life. It’s a ‘The Office-eseque’ parody of the mundanity of society where at some point we all look right at the camera thinking "what?". And it's that awkwardness that makes both the show and this album great.
Drake - Take Care (2011)
Young Money / Cash Money Republic
Take Care oozes sincerity. Drake speaks directly to the listener, sharing his thoughts and emotions in a genuine manner. Drake overshares without overburdening. The album is insight into the mind of the decade's defining pop star.
Esperanza Spalding - Emily's D+Evolution (2016)
This is an artist who stole a grammy from Justin Bieber. This is a jazz album (Mostly). But it might be funk art instead. It's Ebony and Ivy. Dark and Bright. Its creative, confrontational, it’s got cheeky time signatures but most of all it cuts through the preconceptions of what a ‘contemporary’ jazz record can be - which is very very good.
Flume - Skin (2016)
Compare the shiny 'Never Be Like You' and snarly 'Wall Fuck' and you can see the versatility of this album and why it presses so many buttons. Clearly testing the waters for more intriguing experimentation, Flume hits a home run with the sonic version of MDMA.