The Top 10 of 2010

After many hours of trawling through a year’s worth of discographies, The Tab brings you 10 of the best albums of 2010 just in time for the end of January

2010 2010 albums Album album review album round up best albums of 2010 Reviews

After many hours of trawling through a year’s worth of discographies, The Tab brings you 10 of the best albums of 2010:

‘The Suburbs’ – Arcade Fire (August):

10 years from now, this will undoubtedly be regarded as a seminal album. Funeral was decadent, Neon Bible was paranoid, but The Suburbs speaks for a generation as a zeitgeist masterpiece.  It’s certainly not an easy ride – 16 tracks, the majority of which aren’t radio friendly, but the Canadian band have reaffirmed their commitment to the album as more than just a collection of songs. Suburban love, letters, and the failure of town planning are at the heart of this album. The bass-heavy Ready to Start and the anthemic We Used To Wait are clear highlights, but Regine Chassagne steals the show in the synth-pop masterpiece Sprawl II. It’s long, heavy going and slightly pretentious, but Arcade Fire have created a classic here.
Patrick Kane


Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ – Kanye West (November):

Yes, it does have its thumping singles, such as All of the Lights and Power, which are infectiously catchy, beat heavy, and superbly assembled, but these standout moments are seamlessly integrated into the broody, densely textured atmosphere that is sustained throughout. From the fairytale opening narration in Dark Fantasy to Gil Scott-Heron’s fevered shouting at the end of Who Will Survive in America, the album is a richly rewarding listen. With inspired use of samples, from Mike Oldfield to Bon Iver, wonderfully witty lyrics, and stunning guests, it is obvious that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the best of 2010. Kanye West may be egotistical, crass and at times completely idiotic, but my God he is great.
George Osborn


Kanye West – Monster

‘Swim’ – Caribou (April):

The crowning moment in a good year for dance and electronica has to be Swim by Caribou, aka Dan Snaith. Inspired by water, the album oozes pulsating downbeats and elegant loops combined with a brooding bass to drive the clever compositions. The infectious Odessa kicks off the album with its snippets of catchy call-and-response electronic melodies. Kaili adds an element of techno with samples of distorted saxophones and flutes, but it’s Snaith’s ghostly vocals that really stand out. Bowls is almost spiritual among us; Caribou blends hypnotic Indonesian instruments with layers of complex rhythms and throbbing bass. This beautiful collection of songs is more intelligent than your typical indie electronic album crammed full of anthems, and deserves continued appreciation.
Jenna Corderoy

‘Loud’ – Rihanna (November):

The progression from the dark and moody, post-Chris Brown Rated R to the suitably red-headed Loud is quite clear: Rihanna is ready to fuck again, and in 2010 she proved it with her third fantastic pop album in a row. Opening track S&M may sit uneasy as it celebrates the eerie whiff of a used condom and last nights gash on your duvet, but it’s an undeniably catchy track laden with thumping European beats. Reggae murder ballad Man Down is another highlight. It’s a surprisingly dark affair, but the ‘Rum-puh-puh-puh’ of her gunfire is infectious and her patois towards the end is, ahem, arresting. The star of the show however is Cheers (Drink To That). With an initially off-putting Avril Lavigne sample (YEAH-E-EAH!), Rihanna toasts to the weekend over a rock-pop loop and proves once again her ability to turn her hand to any genre.
Ben Wheawell


Rihanna – Only Girl

‘Teen Dream’ – Beach House (January):

Teen Dream manages nostalgia without the banality of the hundreds of other ‘teen’ albums. The record itself embodies the teenage psyche: timid and lacking self-confidence, yet open to new found depths and emotions. It sounds like first lust and first love. That’s not to say the album is melancholic, Lover Of Mine is 80s synth driven, 10 Mile stereo is soaring and lush and low volume but with big beats remaining prevalent. At a glance the album seems bleary-eyed and washed out, but a closer listen reveals it as a collection of memories with the tempo turned down.
David Holland

‘Go’ – Jonsi (April):

Jonsi’s spellbinding debut solo album Go was one of the great breakthroughs of 2010. A chirpy flute sets the tone of the album, announcing the gorgeous, warm-hearted title track with a real celebratory feel. The compositional genius of Sigur Ros has not been lost on the solo effort. While the former are known for their symphony-length slow burners, the nine tracks of Go all come in at under six minutes, so they feel like they can stand alone. Boy Lillikoi is a bittersweet, animating romp, a conversation between Jonsi and his younger self. Meanwhile, the brooding piano notes and whining violins gather a storm on Kolniður over which the unmistakeable, piercing howling of Jonsi sails. Finally, on the breath-taking Grow Till Tall, the slow hum of strings grows with the drums as the instrumentals get fuzzier, a musical coming of age. Granted, it doesn’t include that song off How To Train Your Dragon, but the musical wizardry of Jonsi Birgisson makes Go the best-kept secret of 2010.
Ben Weisz

‘Soldier of Love’ – Sade (February):

Soldier of Love by Sade marks a long-overdue return for one of the most successful English bands of all time. The combination of 90s R&B and modern jazz in Soldier of Love could have been released at any point in the last 20 years- no autotune or synthesizers. In an age when collaborations and producers dominate the charts, this album sounds organic and earnest. Sade’s vocals are smooth and rise above the lush instrumentation on each track. It is a testimony to the fact that you can still sell millions of albums without the need for marketing gimmicks.
Theo Zhang

‘The ArchAndroid’ – Janelle Monae (May):

The talented Janelle Monae (James Brown David Bowie hybrid anyone?) takes the listener on a sci-fi rollercoaster ride in the dystopian, metropolis-inspired The ArchAndroid. Monae creatively blends almost every musical genre since the 1900s: funk, jazz, psychedelic pop, R&B. A grand orchestral score launches the listener into the sun-drenched Dance or Die, moving to thee mystical, soulful Sir Greendown. Monae’s vocals are extraordinary, and the feisty Cold War simply dazzles. Tightrope is the most memorable track, where she is joined by Outkast’s Big Boi and ‘classy brass’ to produce pure delicious funk. Exciting, eccentric and ridiculously energetic, The ArchAndroid is a definite highlight of 2010.
Jenna Corderoy


Janelle Monae – Tightrope

‘Broken Bells’ – Broken Bells (March):

For those of us who have declared a long-standing interest in the wistful jangle-pop strains of The Shins, the partnership of their front man James Mercer with the mash-up guru and R&B enthusiast Brian Burton (a.k.a Danger Mouse) may seem like a musical blasphemy. The result of this enterprise, however, is quite remarkable. Whether a fan of The Shins or not, Broken Bells’ eponymous debut album is a musical fusion in the best possible sense. The album showcases James Mercer’s whimsical guitar and forlorn lyrics only to seamlessly counter-balance and compliment their listlessness with the understated groove from Burton’s synth-drum sound-scaping and periodic horn sections. The result is s a kind of melancholy jamboree. Broken Bells is more than just a project for its members’ own enjoyment.
Josh Emden

‘I Speak Because I Can’ – Laura Marling (March):

The biggest concern with Laura Marling’s second album was that it would lose some of the rustic charm and appeal of her debut as production value was ratcheted up. Cynicism is short-lived however: the album is full of emotion, quirk and character, bridging folk and soul with charm and passion. Hope In The Air and Rambling Man boarder on melancholic, concerned with love, loss, longing and death, but provide a poignancy that pop folk often misses. Marling’s second record has depth and intimacy, and is a beautiful antidote to everything clinical and plastic in the charts.
David Holland