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

30

Modest Mouse, The Moon & Antarctica

After the surprise hit “Float On” landed them squarely in Kidz Bop territory, it’s easy to forget how fucking weird Modest Mouse used to be, and what a shock it was when they released this stunning major-label debut. From the balls-tripping, nearly nine-minute-long freakout “The Stars Are Projectors” to the walls-shaking closer “What People Are Made Of,” The Moon & Antarctica is a psychedeli-punk masterpiece. Thanks in no small part to Brian Deck’s hallucinatory production, the album marks the moment Isaac Brock’s peculiar, druggy fever dreams were elevated into vision. Newlin

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

29

The White Stripes, Elephant

If you ever need to win an argument with someone who asserts that anyone other than Jack White is the most ridiculously shredtastic guitarist of the aughties (this happens to me a lot), just play them “Ball and Biscuit” and have fun watching them shut the hell up. Sure, White Blood Cells has “Fell In Love with a Girl,” but this is the album where the White Stripes emerged as the most inspired interpreters of the blues riff since, um, maybe Led Zeppelin? And it’s full of wicked little fuzz-rock songs like “Seven Nation Army” and the criminally underrated “The Hardest Button to Button,” t’boot. Rock. Hughes

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

28

The Streets, Original Pirate Material

Mike Skinner provides the excitement geezers young and old need, fusing electronica and hip-hop as imaginatively as Missy Elliott and Dizzee Rascal, turning a better phrase than Eminem, and name checking philosophers with a surprising lack of pretension. This great album’s 14 tracks are a crackling, richly detailed introduction to a middle-class British wanker’s social and artistic purview, a robust blitzkrieg of purposeful beats and even more purposeful lyricism. He earns his cynicism because few at his game are so tender or open about their emotional shortcomings. Gonzalez

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

27

Robyn, Robyn

Robyn raps with humor and knowingness, and even though the album’s sonic landscape suggests she’s trapped inside a PlayStation console, short-circuiting its motherboard before busting right out of it, there’s nothing cold or canned-sounding about this platinum blonde’s voice. Even her boasting is charming. Robyn’s complex feelings on everything from the nature of seduction to escape are thrillingly paralleled to the album’s equally emotive production, most thrillingly on the writhing “Cobrastyle” and “With Every Heartbeat,” the most vibrant jewel in a crown of perfect pop songcraft. Gonzalez

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

26

Spoon, Kill the Moonlight

Following the too-glossy sheen of Spoon’s Girls Can Tell, which played as a half-ditched attempt at winning back Elektra after the label cut them loose, sparse opener “Small Stakes” felt like something of a rebirth, indicating the sparse focus of Kill the Moonlight that singles out certain elements (a plinking key, a clomping bass-drum hit) pulling the album’s best moments from their straightforward simplicity. It set the standard for all Spoon albums to come, which, if not exactly appearing to diminishing returns, haven’t reached this level since. Cataldo

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

25

Basement Jaxx, Rooty

A good college party is usually made great by one thing: Basement Jaxx. The group’s noisy, raunchy house is the most fun thing about electronic music right now, as well as the one thing everyone seems to agree on, even if for all their superstar-studded collaborations (Yoko Ono, Cyndi Lauper, JC Chasez), they remain a relatively underground sensation. Rooty featured one of Basement Jaxx’s most popular tracks, “Where’s Your Head At,” a swirling, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sensation—that rare electro crossover that even the fratboys dug. Schrodt

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

24

M.I.A., Kala

A beautifully weird and evocative kaleidoscope of a record, a socially-conscious dance record that finds M.I.A. reckoning with the hypocrisy of lobbing cherry bombs at the very capitalist system that has padded her pockets. Arular is the catchier, prettier record, but Kala is the more thoughtful one, what with its slyly intelligent and honest considerations of cultural displacement and ponderings of travels through the third world. M.I.A.’s moral conviction, emotiveness, playfulness, and crafty musical innovation shames almost every artist who produced music in the last decade. Gonzalez

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

23

Annie, Anniemal

Candy-coated pop with barely any cloying aftertaste, Anniemal set off a chain reaction after its release, minting dozens of similar-minded Scandinavian chanteuses, all suavely radiant, all mysteriously withholding, while helping define the expansive borders of the dance genre. Certain songs, like the surprisingly moody “Always Too Late” and “Helpless for Love” are darker than they seem, while others, like “Chewing Gum,” remain enjoyably straightforward, a mix of buried emotion and mindless, forthright fun that provides something for everyone. Cataldo

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

22

Dizzee Rascal, Boy in Da Corner

“Grime” may never have reinvigorated hip-hop in the way it was hyped, but the scene did boast one truly watershed record. But what makes Dizzee Rascal’s debut, Boy in Da Corner, one of the decade’s most essential recordings isn’t just its introduction to a new, aggressive take on hip-hop. Instead, it’s in the way the production’s take-only-what-you-need minimalism channels Dizzee’s aggression and his inimitable flow and cadence into his fearless narratives, making Boy play out as an ethnographic study and a compelling, insider’s portrait of urban rot. Keefe

The 100 Best Albums of the Aughts

21

Ghostface Killah, Fishscale

The Mickey Goldmill-style trainer on Fishscale’s “The Champ” pumps up Ghostface Killah by claiming he “ain’t been hungry since Supreme Clientele,” and though fans of The Pretty Toney Album may take umbrage, Fishscale meets the challenge nonetheless by delivering the rawest, most explosive rhymes of Ghost’s career. Passing effortlessly through hysterical drug narratives (the breathless “Shakey Dog”), slow jams (“Back Like That”), wistful remembrances of childhood (“Whip You with a Strap”), and ecstatic dance cuts (“Be Easy”), Ghost is aided by some of the sharpest producers in hip-hop, including the late Jay Dee, making for a nearly flawless hip-hop record. Newlin

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