Top Ten Albums for 2010

So many established artists releasing stellar follow up albums this year! It’s usually more interesting to see some new entries (last year’s Miike Snow stood out quite favourably as my number 1 and of course, The xx was everyone’s pick!), but there are some in this year’s list (see Beach House, Groove Armada, Kelis, Robyn) who would not have made a top ten list of mine previously. Whether they’ve simply polished their sound, my interests have evolved or their music is ripe for the picking, it’s hard to dismiss certain music just because I wasn’t a big fan in the past.

10. Menomena – Mines
Mines achieves what Grizzly Bear’s third album, Vecktamist, did. The at times alien-like and alienating experimental sounds are tempered with esoteric pop, exemplified by the striking melodies and gospel theme.

9. Angus & Julia Stone – Down the Way
It’s not a flawless album but the soft melodies and the siblings’ sweet vocals are intricately and considerately layered with strings or instruments like melatron.

Edit: Apparently WMG disallow sharing A and J Stone songs on blogs so here is a fun viral video from this year of Don Draper saying “what” on Mad Men instead.

8. The National – High Violet
These veterans of music have learnt over time what works and what doesn’t. Once again Matt Berninger’s morose vocals are effortlessly moulded with poetic lyricism and clever instrumental arrangements. If you ever get a chance to see them live, don’t hesitate. They will make you cry.

7. Beach House – Teen Dream
I’ve often in the past found this dream pop band to be a bit samey. Teen Dream, however, is a lot more playful. According to Beach House this album is perfect to listen to whilst entangled with a lover. That’s perfect for those whose Portishead albums are a little worse for wear.

6. Glasser – Ring
If you wanted to make a stop motion video of an origami swan being folded with a strobe light on, you might use a song from this album. Initially singing into her laptop, Glasser later replaced computer stock sounds with marimbas, chimes, saxophone, koto and heavy drums and synthesizers.

5. Robyn – Body Talk
Body Talk was released as three EPs to, finally, produce a whole album. All three EPs operate as dance anthems. You’ll likely hear many of the songs from Body Talk throughout the next year. It’s been a fun project to watch unfold!

4. Kelis – Flesh Tone
Flesh Tone (produced by the likes of Burns and Boys Noize) unveils Kelis as a vibrant electro dance god. This is rare House music where you can enthusiastically sing along while jumping and jiving.

3. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
Stevens finally cut the crap and released some new music, criticising his own insistence on being innovative. The Age of Adz showcases Stevens at his most relaxed and honest.

2. Groove Armada – Black Light
It’s a surprise but this gritty album already feels like a classic; the songs operating often somehow as both retro chill out and disco dance.

1. Sia – We are Born
The Arias for Pest Pop Release and Best Independent Release are well deserved. Though cute, bouncy and involving, Sia’s music carries a beautiful sad undertone with its upbeat drive. It is remarkable how different but equally as good this album is as 2004’s Colour the Small One.

Groove Armada – Time and Space (White Light Version)

Sia – I’m in Here (Piano Vocal Version)

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