Swear I'm not Paul: List: Best Albums of the Decade 30-21

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

List: Best Albums of the Decade 30-21

Part Nine of my countdown of the top 110 albums of the decade. You can find 110-101 here, 100-91 here, 90-81 here, 80-71 here, 70-61 here, 60-51 here, 50-41 here, and 40-31 here. But for now, here's 30-21...

30. Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat (2006)
We always knew former childstar Jenny Lewis had a certain sparkle, but it wasn't until her solo debut (away from Rilo Kiley) that she really shone. Together with the statuesque Watson Twins, she soothed us with this collection of 11 (technically 12) beautiful songs. The finest part was their cover of the Traveling Wilburys' 'Handle With Care', which actually outdid the stellar original.

29. PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)
The best work of Harvey's career, Stories from the City... is a strangely dark but uplifting album. Not a description you hear everyday, it's an urbane record but filled with a vivid nightlife feel. Thom Yorke appears as a guest, but never overshines the artist herself. How could anyone improve on 'The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore'? I doubt it's possible.

28. Kanye West - The College Dropout (2004)
Kanye West's debut was the best thing to happen to hip-hop since the arrival of Jay-Z on the scene. It featured a massive amount of guests (none of which were major stars at the time, but are now), but it was West's fantastic rhymes which made this record. West was injured in a car crash during pre-production, and felt this album was his second chance at life. His ego has overtaken since, but with songs like 'All Falls Down' and 'Jesus Walks', isn't he entitled to be proud?

27. Johnny Cash - American III: Solitary Man (2000)
It doesn't get the same attention as the fourth - there's no 'Hurt' on here - but overall it is a marvellous collection of songs. He reinvents the title track, originally by Neil Diamond, as well as Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down', but the highlight has to be his take on Will Oldham's 'I See a Darkness'. Cash's finest hour.

26. The Libertines - The Libertines (2004)
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat's second album (strangely the self-titled one is the second, not the first) raised the bar even higher after their splendid debut. Sadly it was their last album together, and neither have matched the dizzy heights of the Libertines since. It was the songs the pair wrote together that really shone: 'What Became of the Likely Lads', 'Can't Stand Me Now', 'Road to Ruin', and 'The Man Who Would Be King'. The Doherty penned ones were good, but Barat added an extra dimension which is much needed now.

25. The Postal Service - Give Up (2003)
Ben Gibbard's other project was much better than his main career. They've only made one album so far, but what an album it was. Created via Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello sending each other songs for the other to finish through the mail system, they came together under the obvious title of The Postal Service. But a backstory does not an album make, and it's thanks to songs like 'Such Great Heights' and the gorgeous 'Clark Gable' that this makes the list.

24. Seth Lakeman - Kitty Jay (2004)
For me, this album arrived out of nowhere. I hadn't heard Lakeman's debut Punch Bowl or his work with Equation, but when I read that a folk album had made the Mercury shortlist after its creator had paid the entry fee, I knew I had to listen. Nothing prepared me for how gorgeous it turned out to be. Filled with Dartmoor legends, here was an album that had imagery as good as any Neil Gaiman short story, and combined it with fantastic fiddle and tenor guitar playing. Fantastic.

23. Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker (2000)
The debut of the Whiskeytown frontman announced the arrival of the decade's best alt.country brat. He's been known for his tantrums ever since, but this album was a lesson in break-up albums. A bitter heartbreak record, it's filled with gorgeous tunes and some of Adams' best singing, it's a smoke-filled masterpiece.

22. Justin Timberlake - Justified (2002)
I should fell guilty ranking a former boyband member's album ahead of Ryan Adams' debut, but I don't. This album is a gorgeous danceable pop record. Immaculately produced, it features some of the finest dance-floor fillers ever. You just can't argue with 'Senorita', 'Like I Love You', or 'Rock Your Body'. Then there was the brilliant 'Cry Me A River'. The new Michael Jackson had arrived.

21. The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan (2005)
The fifth White Stripes album was yet another departure from their ouevre. Acoustic guitar and piano replaced electric guitar at the centre and gave it a less aggressive, softer feel. It was also quite funny, have a listen to the hilarious 'My Doorbell' if you don't believe me. Singles 'Blue Orchid' and 'The Denial Twist' were as good as anything they've done, but 'Take, Take, Take' was the album's glorious highpoint. Fantastic

The Countdown continues tomorrow...

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