Your Twenty British Albums Of The Decade: #4 - #1

on Tuesday, January 26, 2010
222 voters, 666 choices, 20 favourite British albums of the decade (2000-2009). It's been a labour of love, to say the least. Will be glad to move on. But if anyone has any thoughts on the list, please do comment.

I was particularly surprised at the high placings of M.I.A and PJ Harvey, which I think is probably due to their relative popularity in the States. Obviously not too surprised by the profileration of Radiohead, who probably deserve their own poll. Anyways, here's the whole shebang.

Blurbs for #20 - #15
#20 Muse - Origin Of Symmetry // #19 Muse - Absolution
#18 M.I.A - Arular // #17 The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
#16 Amy Winehouse - Back To Black // #15 Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head

Blurbs for #14 - #10
#14 Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand // #13 Radiohead - Hail To The Thief
#12 Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight // #11 Coldplay - Parachutes
#10 Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

Blurbs for #9 - #5
#9 Primal Scream - XTRMNTR // #8 The Streets - Original Pirate Material
#7 PJ Harvey - Stories From The City... // #6 Radiohead - Amnesiac
#5 The Libertines - Up The Bracket

#4 M.I.A - Kala
68 points, 24 votes

M.I.A - Kala (album cover)
"'Kala' has quite simply changed hip-hop, rap and anything associated with the two forever. Hell, it can even be narrowed down to: 'Kala' has changed beat making forever.

On her second record, M.I.A. makes this decade’s best use of patterns, rhythms and beats. Everything flows while still being fresh and all-encompassing. On 'Jimmy', M.I.A. sings sweetly while these instantly catchy beats bounce everywhere around the refrain. The classic hit, 'Paper Planes' makes use of swirling effects while M.I.A. creates her own legacy and brand, crystalized in the verse: “Bona-fide hustler, makin’ my name.”

Instead of using the music industry’s top producers, M.I.A. has opted out for lesser-known collaborators from around the world. It seems like (as it also sounds like) their style of music is linked to the likes of ancient tribal drums and simplistic beats that are stripped of their ancient tastes and re-run through modern, more complex systems that make incessant prototypes.

'Kala' will offer you something you’ve never heard before that is held to this standard. Every time I put the album in the CD player (which sounds so outdated compared to the sounds on this album) I am always blown away by the audacity of the buzz and the clatter that encompass this record." (Jeff, Music As Art)

#3 Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
70 points, 24 votes

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am... (album cover)
"Alex Turner could raise a serious claim to being the most poetic British pop star of not only his generation, but of all time. Time has been kind to the words of Morrissey, Lennon, Cocker, Weller and Lennon but in 20 years time I’m fairly confident Turner will have surpassed them all. The lyrics to this debut album are the sign of someone who clearly knows what he’s doing and does it well. They deal with very Northern themes of everyday life, from dirty dance floors, taxi ranks, riot vans, pubs and women of the night. The way the words twist and turn in Turner’s mouth are brilliant and unique.

The words are the stars of the show but the music accompanies them brilliantly. It may not be revolutionary but there is energy and heart in each of these songs, the drums are manic, the bass playing is funky and the guitars are fuzzy and very melodic." (Thomas, Thomasmj99's Music Blog)

#2 Radiohead - In Rainbows
148 points, 44 votes

Radiohead - In Rainbows (Album cover)
"Ultimately the noughties did not bring about any truly unique new musical style or genre. Everything could find its roots in the past. What the decade will be remembered for however is the massive change in the way that music is made, distributed and sold. Technology, namely affordable quality recording equipment and the internet changed the musical landscape. As the decade closes, illegal downloading is the singular most complex issue the established music industry has had to deal with for years.

It took a band that started in the nineties to fully address the matter, test the water and break the model. Although Radiohead weren’t the first band to make their album available as a free download, they were certainly the biggest. 'In Rainbows' is one of the most important albums of the decade not just because of the music, but also because of its method of sales and distribution.

However, once the excitement of what Radiohead were doing with 'In Rainbows' subsided, what we are left with is the music. This is where 'In Rainbows' stands the test of time. From the floating ambience of 'Nude', which gathered further fame by being used in haunting and visually sexual trailer for the TV show 'Skins', to the beguiling ghost blues of 'House Of Cards', 'In Rainbows' is a beautiful album that remains their simplest and warmest piece of work. You cannot put a price on beauty." (Robin, Breaking More Waves)

#1 Radiohead - Kid A
371 points, 91 votes

Radiohead - Kid A (album cover)

"It is clear from 'Kid A' that Radiohead had been to the edge, down the muddy river of depression and despair and disenchantment, and had almost reached whatever terrible waterfall lies at its end. But they managed to force themselves back, dragging their bewitching other-worldly sound with them, their compensation perhaps, making the mental toil worthwhile.

Or maybe the sound dragged them – perhaps faced with such depths of disillusionment, this was the only thing that they, as Radiohead, could do with it all. Much has been written of their myriad of leftfield experimental influences, and it is indeed an album far removed from 'OK Computer'. But this is not a cheap electronica-pastiche, this is unmistakably the same band, a band who had already released one of the best albums ever, and yet still found the resolve to release a perfect response to it.

This is the sound of our non-stop twenty-first century lives, of dead eyes propped open only by caffeine, of empty bright lights and computer screens. This strange modern world might as well be nothing but bleeps, so disconnected do Radiohead feel from it.

But shining brighter than any quirky methodology or ethereal effects, are this album’s genuinely brilliant songs. It is a thing of real beauty. A masterpiece." (Kieran, Yeah, Do That).

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