There’s so many different ways to pull out top ten albums from the past decade, ranging from influence to popularity. Websites like Pitchfork have compiled their top 200 songs and albums of the decade and these serve to both celebrate and remember the best sounds of the past ten years. To me, a good album should be cohesive and show growth or establish an artist’s sound, as well as retain the joy of listening. With that in mind, here are the ten albums that had the most influence on my life at various points over this decade and still cheer me up even today.
- Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend (2013)
Perhaps the strongest Vampire Weekend album, this marks a maturity and wisdom to their sound. Smart without being in your face, the rhythms are catchy and the lyrics are witty. Kicking back in the summer listening to ‘Step’ was a simpler time in my life and this album still takes me to a place of inner reflection.
- Daytona – Pusha T (2018)
Unapologetically sharp and aggressive, it only took seven tracks to cement Pusha T’s return to greatness. Seeing ‘The Games We Play’ performed at Parklife was an iconic moment and speaks to the appeal of this album as equal parts wit and grit. Produced by Kanye West, this album highlights how far the pair have come from their iconic collaboration on ‘Runaway’ in 2010.
- Devotion – Jessie Ware (2012)
Jessie Ware packed Devotion full of emotional ballads that brought back a softer touch to British soul. This album was beautiful in its pared back simplicity and Ware’s voice shines through to tug at heartstrings to this day. ‘Wildest Moments’ was perhaps my first heartbreak song and still has a special place in my heart.
- Warm On a Cold Night – Honne (2016)
Genuinely just one of my favourite albums of all time, the sweet pop sounds of Honne remain perpetually comforting at my lowest points. The album sounds great live and Honne’s set at Saint Lukes and the Winged Ox was one of my favourite gigs of my life. Despite each song sounding similar, the album hits real highs and ‘Good Together’ is one of the cheeriest takes on modern soul to come from this decade.
- Currents – Tame Impala (2015)
Tame Impala are a staple of the indie rock scene, and Currents cemented Kevin Parker’s hallucinogenic take on loneliness. The sheer mastery of tracks like ‘Let It Happen’ is evident and has left a sense of intrigue and anticipation awaiting the next Tame Impala album.
- Take Care – Drake (2011)
For me, this has always been the quintessential Drake album, establishing his unique take on oversharing through catchy pop beats. Peaking with ‘Marvin’s Room’ (potentially the best musical version of a drunk text ever), ‘Make Me Proud’ and ‘Take Care’ celebrated Drake’s more pop take on rap at its finest.
- In Colour – Jamie XX (2015)
Jamie Smith showed what he does best as a producer on his first full length solo album, and In Colour gave Smith strength as a solo artist apart from the XX. Collaborations with Romy on ‘SeeSaw’ and ‘Loud Places’ have consoled me in some of the rougher times of the past few years with their catching, yet emotional, electronic beats.
- House of Balloons – The Weeknd (2011)
Technically a mixtape, House of Balloons was the Weeknd’s platform to launch his own unique blend of soul, trip hop and dream pop. Opening strong with ‘High for This’, songs like ‘The Morning’ and ‘Loft Music’ established the Weeknd’s trademark mix of explicit lyrics set against soft rolling tunes that remain on trend even now. The Weeknd has been one of my favourite artists of the decade and continues to grow from album to album.
- Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey (2019)
I’m a massive Lana Del Rey fan, and Norman Fucking Rockwell was Lana at peak form. Marking a rejection of the idealised America painted in her earlier albums, tracks like ‘hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have’ show a more poignant side to the album. This album sheds a lot of the previous pop influences to present a more moving and haunting vibe, showing perhaps a greater sense of serenity and security in her sound on songs like ‘How to Disappear’ .
- A Seat at the Table – Solange (2016)
A Seat at the Table is powerful and Solange encapsulated her musings on the current American zeitgeist in an album that was equal parts touching and beautiful. ‘Cranes in the Sky’ can make me cry on any day, and this album was hauntingly raw. Solange’s journey was highlighted in this album and projected a healing vibe that still remains pertinent in today’s political climate.
[Catherine Bouchard – she/her]