Soundtrack your government sanctioned walk, banana bread-baking and essential Asda shop with this definitive list.
In times when life is boring and productivity is scarce, we can all find some solace in nostalgia and music. Trying to discover new music can be a total hit or miss, and playlists made by wannabe DJs on Spotify don’t always hit the spot, so I’ve compiled a definitive list of classic albums (2001-2010) to listen to start to finish. Not wanting to bore you, I’ve limited this to only one album per year, with a special little shoutout to a few others. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the noughties!
Origin of Symmetry by Muse (2001)
The Devon trio, fronted by confirmed cocky bastard Matt Bellamy, of course found their muse from neither lost loves nor marriage, but from a 1994 book by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku called Hyperspace. As inaccessible as this may sound, it doesn’t take intellect to fully appreciate their second album (I should know, because I like it). Peaking at #3 in the UK album chart, Origin of Symmetry brings space rock into the 21st century, mingling classical influence and alt rock to provide us with some upbeat easy listening – though Bellamy must have gotten some proper mental hiccups after recording; the man’s breathing is intense.
I must give an obligatory special shoutout to The Strokes for releasing Is This It? in the same year, kicking off the world’s love for the indie/garage rock band.
A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay (2002)
Despite Coldplay’s somewhat disappointing releases in the past five years, it’s hard to deny how iconic AROBTTH is. A deeply emotional and cathartic listen for sure, we can’t question that, but even from the very first bar of Politik, they refuse to make the album all doom and gloom. Coldplay initially gained attention with their single release Yellow from their first album, but they absolutely knocked it out the park with the second. In 2010, AROBTTH was nominated for the best British album, and although it just lost out to (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory, the nomination in itself solidified its place as a national favourite. If we ignore the BBC drama adverts and talent shows that overused a select couple of tracks, the album is an absolutely stunning listen from start to finish. If you haven’t given this album the attention it deserves, you need to open up your eyes.
In keeping with my initial indecision with 2001, I must confess that I had to choose between SFTD and By the Way by California funk-rock group Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Sorry Kiedis, they beat you by a hair.
Dangerously in Love by Beyoncé (2003)
There wasn’t even a moment of indecision when I picked this album. Bop after banger after tune. Beyoncé developed a masterful mix of high-energy club tunes and sensual ballads, blended into one first-rate track list. I had never listened to the album all the way through until a few weeks ago, and I regret not doing it earlier. Queen Bey kicks off the record with the much-loved Crazy in Love (pretty much summing up my feelings on the album), and the brilliance is initiated. Being around an hour long, I recommend this one as a backing track to your government-issued daily walk – it instils confidence like nothing else can.
Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of Leon (2004)
A nostalgic album for me, Aha Shake Heartbreak truly appeals to the short attention spanned indie rock fans that walk among us (myself being one of them). In less than 40 minutes, the Followill family produces dance-worthy, guitar-heavy tunes, and cultivates ideas of youth, feuds over love, and the difficulties of fame. While seemingly upbeat on the surface, there is so much substance to this album that it’s always fun to revisit – not to mention how seamlessly tracks transition from one to the next. Due to the stunted length of the album, I would recommend this for driving to the shop for essentials, or for washing a lot of dishes.
Hesitation has struck me once more, and I must also credit the absolutely legendary album Hot Fuss, released in the same year by The Killers. It’s okay, you can skip Mr Brightside, we know it’s overplayed.
Demon Days by Gorillaz (2005)
From the talented bunch that brought you Clint Eastwood (and the utter legend that brought you Blur, Damon Albarn), a moody yet bright star is born. Intro launches the album with an eerie sense of uncertainty – much like the times we’re living in – but as it progresses, the heavy distortion, percussive fluidity and cracking basslines offer a gloomy comfort. Pre-quarantine, this was one of my go-to albums that I’d stick on while I was walking to the train station, in the hopes that the effortlessly cool quality of the record would radiate from my body. I doubt this was achieved, but if any album could do it, it’s this one. Recommended for walking with an aim to look cool, or DIY projects involving lots of hammering.
You must be used to this by now…but special little shoutout to Bloc Party for releasing Silent Alarm this same year. 10/10 would listen to on repeat for a month.
Costello Music by The Fratellis (2006)
The first local lads of the list! Arctic Monkeys could have beaten them out for the 2006 spot, but this is hands down the superior album. Literally any of the songs on the track-list could come on in a Scottish club and receive a wee “wheyyyy” in response. It’s a hell of an album to dance to, so definitely one to lift up spirits when cooped up in the house all day. Critics tended to compare The Fratellis to many other British rock acts gaining attention at the time of release, but in my opinion, none released such a fun, raucous album as Costello Music. I recommend this record for nowt more than a mad careless dance about your bedroom.
Oracular Spectacular by MGMT (2007)
Deviating from the theme of indie rock (Beyoncé, of course, being the blueprint of indie rock), Oracular Spectacular is one of the most recognisable albums from the decade. Anytime I play this record, I’m overcome with nostalgic familiarity, and this has been the case since I was in my early teens – I was nostalgic for things that had never even happened to me. It takes a special kind of album to manage that. The psychedelic pop duo kick-started their recording career on a high by producing this work of art, and they haven’t slumped since; I’ll take the chance to recommend their whole discography at this point. Oracular Spectacular is highly recommended for taking a bath, a slow stroll, or a nap in the garden.
It feels wrong to write this list without mentioning the Sheffield boys, so once more, I present to you an indecisive shoutout, this time to Arctic Monkeys’ Favourite Worst Nightmare. Not their best, but I like it. Definitely my favourite worst album.
Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend (2008)
Vampire Weekend’s first album Vampire Weekend truly set some solid foundations for the band’s future. Vampire Weekend is, in my opinion, still their best album to date, but I commend Vampire Weekend for the longevity of their sound, maintaining the essence of the self-titled debut throughout their career, while still evolving it till their latest release, Father of the Bride. The album, in terms of this list, merges the close nostalgia of Oracular Spectacular, the convenient quick-listening of Aha Shake, and the percussive danciness of Costello Music. A quintessential album for students, I recommend Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend for any occasion in quarantine to lift your spirits.
The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga (2009)
An utter no-brainer for 2009 – the legend herself emerges. To create an album with no skip-worthy filler songs, and having every track a single-worthy one? The work of genius. The record commences with one of the best single releases of the 21st century so far: Bad Romance. The album continues in the same dancey direction, occasionally branching off to some extraneous yet thematically linked ballads such as Speechless. And, it goes without saying, the Telephone collaboration remains iconic. Due to the 88 minutes taken up by the album, I’ll recommend pairing it with baking or preparing a hearty dinner.
Once more I interrupt myself to butt in with another album. I recommend relistening to The XX’s self-titled album also released in 2009, for winding down and trying to relax during the COVID-19 anxiety.
Only Revolutions by Biffy Clyro (2010)
Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t make music recs without bringing up Biffy at least once. Though it may not be my personal favourite (probably a very close second to Puzzle), I think it’s hard to deny that it’s their most iconic album, featuring the nationally loved Mountains. This was probably their first album that showed more of a deviation from their original heavier sound, but they transition beautifully; the dulcet Scottish accents, dodgy syncopation and unusual lyrics are ever the same. I can’t stress how much everyone should listen to this album; trust me, it’s a good’un from start to finish. If you have a guitar at home, I recommend having a good crack at the songs – not too tough, but a good challenge.
And thus, my list is concluded. The act of whittling down my choices to only 10 albums was difficult (so difficult that there are, in fact, 16 albums in this list), but this is at least a starting point. For those of you itching for new music: listen to this little bunch first, and relish in the nostalgia for a few days – it does the ears and the heart some good.