Four ‘astounding and practically flawless’ albums in the last 10 years. Hey, I’m picky. My criteria?
1. Is it sonically mesmerising? The Avalanches’s album consists of over 3,500 samples. Mew and The Sleepy Jackson’s efforts feel like they might collapse inwards with the hugeness of the production. Paddy McAloon’s piece can’t even be classified. None of these would be 15% as good ‘unplugged’.
2. Does it bear repeat listening? Over and over and over again. And generally listened to as a complete album rather than iPod-inspired cherry-picking.
3. Does it grasp at the sublime? Each of these albums reaches to express something that other artforms can’t quite manage. There is something somehow transcendent going on. The Avalanches and Paddy McAloon albums make me tear up with sadness and burst with joy within their 40-odd minutes.
4. There isn’t a duff track. These are all killer/no filler albums.
5. You can tell that a shitload of effort went into them. Even the packaging is stunning in each case (yes, even Mew).
Here’s the chart (click to enlarge).
Frequent followers may be surprised at the lack of Pet Shop Boys. The problem is that the PSB albums in the last decade have been inconsistent. I believe that they have made some of their best music this decade, but the albums themselves are uneven.