o here it is, admittedly two weeks late, but hopefully you can forgive us for taking a little longer to properly sift through what has been a bumper 10 years’ worth of electronic music LP’s.
A decade of dominance by Spotify saw the majesty of the album somewhat abandoned by electronic artists, who instead seemed intent on packing projects with as many multi-genre singles as possible to maximise streaming numbers.
A good album therefore requires the perfect storm. Talent, imagination, and no shortage of luck are needed to deliver a full-length project that remains memorable when viewed as a whole. The list below contains just some of our picks of the most memorable, remarkable and obviously influential LP’s in the past 10 years.
While the great albums may be fewer in number than the decade prior, there are nonetheless a large enough number for us to throw together an unranked list for you top hopefully fully disagree with. Assessed based on a loose criteria of influence, ingenuity, cohesiveness and how it has aged, these 11 LP’s are the ones which we consider to be the best of the 2010’s.
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
The French house pioneers turned disco with their masterful 2013 release, ushering in a suit of high- profile collaborators for an album that was said to cost the duo well over a million dollars to complete. The resulting LP is one of the decades soundest and most professionally polished pieces, thematically tight and brilliantly assembled by the French duo’s lithe hands.
If we were to consider albums based off of influence alone, then Harley Streten’s debut would sit almost unchallenged at the top. Faults in track sequencing and self-plagiarism aside, the LP itself was a breath of fresh air when it dropped in 2012. It conquered Australia, and its ability to contribute so profoundly to the development of the future bass genre ensures its influence stretched beyond the confines of the LP itself. To this day it remains Flume's greatest work in his trailblazing career.
Jamie xx: In Colour
Very few electronic albums this decade have managed to deliver the level of majesty and state of exaltation quite like In Colour. Jamie xx’s ode to British rave culture that he was too young to ever experience, stands as one of this decades truly indescribable projects. An album of beauty, reverence and sublime emotional depth, In Colour epitomises everything electronic music can and should be. An album you can truly get lost in, and one which has only gotten better over time; this really is music at its absolute pinnacle.
Jon Hopkins: Singularity
Hopkins’ music writing experiences with psychedelics, cliched as it may be, gave us one of the decade’s most pulsating and confronting LP’s Singularity. Taking the listener on a journey through the sonically disparate, the British producer shows he's one of very few who possess both the imagination to dream up such aggressive soundscapes, and the technical nous to bring them to fruition. It makes his music some of the most confronting and astounding of any electronic genre to date.
Labelled by Pitchfork as “one of the most assured and confident debuts from any genre in recent memory," Settle is a masterpiece of production, sound design, sequencing, and genre mashing. The first offering from Guy & Howard Lawrence not only began the ascendency of Disclosure themselves, but singlehandedly began the career of Sam Smith and London Grammar. Influenced by UK house and garage, the feature-heavy album defies logic with a degree of consistency that seemingly contradicts the individual merit of almost every song on the project.
The Avalanches: Wildflower
“Hi”. A whole 16 years passed before the Avalanches finally served up the successor to 2000’s Since I Left You, an album widely considered to be the best electronic LP Australia has ever seen. What Wildflower showed us was that the Avalanches had lost none of their brilliance over their hiatus. Their ability to craft disparate, fragmented samples into blissful, joyous tracks almost defies belief. Complemented by sublime mixing, perfect features, and brilliant singles, Wildflower is about as good an album as you will ever find.
If grandiosity was an album, this would be it. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has explored M83 beyond their expansive, joy-laden staple Midnight City. But the talents of the groups mastermind Anthony Gonzalez stretch far beyond just one song. This double album, released in 2011, is a sprawling triumph with unparalleled bravado and impeccable sonic clarity. It influenced the music of Porter Robinson and countless others and must be heard to be properly understood.
Chemical Brothers: Further/No Geography
Unsurprisingly, the British big beat pioneers have two (or possibly even 3) albums worthy of consideration for this list, such is their storied longevity and reassuring recovery since the disaster of 2007’s ‘We Are the Night’. Wary of criticism for picking an album that’s less than six months old, we’ve gone with Further as the duo’s best album in the last 10 years. A notable departure from the formula that served them so well in the past, it’s a true testament to their inventiveness.
SOPHIE: Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides
Anyone who attempts to review or even listen to music is prone to bouts of hyperbole when describing artists, songs or sounds. Particularly when describing artists we love, the words ‘ground-breaking’, ‘inventive’ and ‘experimental’ are often thrown around when they need not apply. In the case of latex-pop producer SOPHIE’s Grammy nominated debut album however, these plaudits are entirely deserving. The album charts a journey through exploration, transformation and transition in more than one sense. Yet while it is somewhat disjointed, it remains one of the decades true boundary breakers in terms of genre, style, and sound.
As much as myself and my friends obsessed over Porter’s Worlds in 2014, his best friend Madeon’s 2015 debut LP Adventure was an altogether more imaginative and promising debut. Madeon’s simultaneous grasp of the subtleties of dance and pop allowed him to craft a record that saw the two genres exist in jubilant harmony.
Porter Robinson: Worlds
While I firmly believe that the mark Porter Robinson left on the dance music scene in the middle of this decade was more down to his live show than the overall merit of his album, Worlds still played an essential role in the marginal shift away from the big room DJ set era. The album, full of scintillating videogame-esque electro-pop, drove fans and festival bookers alike towards brighter and more emotionally evocative acts.
We know that for many of you Spotify shuffle is probably the main way that you consume music today, but for us the brilliance of a good album can't be ignored. Plenty of people can make good songs, but few can do so with the correct mix of coherence, variety and inventiveness required for an album.
In many respects it is what separates the great from the good. So, if you’re a fan of any of these artists but have never consumed their album as an entity, or even if you're someone who barely recognises their names - give it a go, you’d be surprised at just how much it might change your views.