The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts
The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


The Cardigans, Long Gone Before Daylight

Sexual politics are fascinatingly evoked in telephone calls, horse races, and war on the Swedish group’s fifth album Long Gone Before Daylight. “You’ve been aiming at my land/Your hungry hammer is falling,” Nina Persson sings without any hint of cheekiness on “You’re the Storm,” which could be the soundtrack to Neve Campbell’s character in When Will I Be Loved—a vixen who’s also a slave to her vagina. The subdued music, almost country, puts Persson’s potent heartache front-stage, where it belongs. Schrodt

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


Goldfrapp, Black Cherry

It may not have started the electro-pop revolution, but Goldfrapp’s second album made disco and new wave revivalism cool again. Of course, without Debbie Harry, there would be no Alison Goldfrapp, but without Black Cherry, there might be no Annie, Little Boots, or Sally Shapiro—what with its sleek, airbrushed synths and artfully braindead lyrics (“Touch my garden…all day long”). But the grumbling bassline of “Strict Machine,” the group’s enduring club classic, proves that even though they’ve since steered away from the dance floor, no one worships it with as much sheer force as Goldfrapp. Schrodt

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man, Out of Season

It might’ve seemed ill-fitting that the Portishead frontwoman would go on to record a folk record. But Beth Gibbons was always miscast as a grunge goddess—her lyrics are more elegiac than angsty—and she’s perfectly at home in the warmth of these songs, which are more straightforwardly tinged with the jazz that influenced Portishead’s first two albums (Gibbons is a dead ringer for Billie Holiday on “Romance,” another example of her remarkable tonal range). These songs offer a more direct, almost umbilical connection to the singer’s inner consciousness and deep despair. Schrodt

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose

Forty years into a career that had already earned her legendary status, Loretta Lynn finally released an album on which she sounds comfortable. Her rough-and-tumble narratives and feisty, powerful vocal performances fit perfectly into producer Jack White’s stripped-down aesthetic, making for a harmonious and critically dense match between form and content. White’s authenticity fetish sometimes results in over-reaching, but on Van Lear Rose, he managed to come up with an album that stands as career-best work for both himself and for the woman he’s called “America’s greatest songwriter.” Keefe

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


Panda Bear, Person Pitch

In a decade that brought us a plethora of great ambient records, Person Pitch reigns supreme for its nerdy sense of repetition, overlapping textures, and grandiose symmetry, but also for its surprising bursts of soulfulness. Even in the Badalamenti-style dread that closes the magisterial “Comfy in Nautica,” Noah Lennox’s influences are almost impossible to detect: From the Beatles and Nina Simone to Aphex Twin and Kylie Minogue, he creates a highly personal, kaleidoscopic vision from the album’s shape-shifting triumphs small (“I’m Not”) and large (“Good Girl/Carrots”) to evoke a dreamer traveling through life and experiencing its wonders and horrors high off the sense of possibility. Gonzalez

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America

If the Hold Steady were only about their stuck-in-your-head melodies paired with arrangements that sound like a classic-rock radio station exploding, Boys and Girls in America would still be one of the most deliriously enjoyable albums of the last decade. Craig Finn’s drunken grumbling about literature, rock, and an expanding cavalcade of fictionalized losers with curiously epic names like Charlemagne and Hallelujah cements it as one of the greatest. With some obvious nods to Springsteen and Thin Lizzy, Boys and Girls is an absolute firecracker of an album that sounds like the world’s greatest cover band trying to do their influences one better—and coming really damn close. Newlin

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend

A year ago, my Slant colleague Dave Hughes nicely summed up the racket over Vampire Weekend’s debut by calling it “the best album about which to have stupid, pointless arguments in 2008,” and as the heated discussions about colonialism, preppiness, and cultural appropriation renew their engines amid the release of the band’s follow-up, it’s worth remembering that the original fire-starter still sounds fresh, smart, and engaging. Some people may never be able to get over the considerable stumbling blocks to enjoying this record, but for the rest of us, Vampire Weekend are simply responsible for one of the most enjoyable slices of clean, mannered guitar-pop this side of Orange Juice. McBee

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


Sigur Rós, ( )

Its threshold for suspension of disbelief may be uncommonly high for a pop record, but Sigur Ros’s ( ) makes up for its pretentious gimmickry with its nearly peerless degree of songcraft. With their subversion of traditional notions of “pop” and their insistence that meaning is the sole domain of the individual listener, the band may be the ultimate one-trick pony. And ( ) is perhaps the finest execution of that trick, an uncommonly beautiful song cycle that offers no limitations on possible interpretation. Keefe

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


Aaliyah, Aaliyah

From the time she was a teenager, Aaliyah had a distinct talent for collecting talented producers (R. Kelly, Timbaland, Missy Elliott) and labels (Jive, Virgin) like furniture. And on Aaliyah, she was able to use those collaborations to create her own sound, a smoldering, sophisticated, and decidedly adult R&B. She lets Timbaland guide, not hijack, the album (he only produced three tracks, one of them being the standout lead single “We Need a Resolution”), but what’s most memorable today is the voice of Aaliyah herself, who had long ditched teen coquettishness for a slinking sexiness (“We can be like Bonnie and Clyde”) that only hinted at the full-blown artist she might have been. Schrodt

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts


LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver

Because my hopes of making a case for Brian Eno’s Another Day on Earth as one of the most tragically underrated triumphs of the last decade were dashed, I come to Sound of Silver—so lovingly indebted to both Eno and David Byrne’s experiments in sound—with a bit of a wounded heart. It’s a less personal and risky record than Eno’s, but the marriage of James Murphy’s playfully summersaulting dance-rock beats to his intriguingly, almost pathologically detached vocals (he sounds like the cagey little brother of Art Brut and Zooropa-era Bono) still stuns, especially on the haunting wonder of “Someone Great.” That song alone is enough to mend a wounded heart. Gonzalez