Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pitchfork's Best Albums of The Decade

Throughout the 2000s, Pitchfork has been one of the most important music publications. It has risen from a small, Midwestern music geek site into one of the world's most influential and cared about publications for independent (or even non-independent) music. It consistently boasts top of the line reviews, news, and features, and it's one of my favorites (if not my favorite) place to read about music. Its high regard for itself has earned it many enemies, but I've found that the people who hate Pitchfork fall into two categories. The first is people who say they hate it because they want to sound cool, but actually read it frequently. The second is people who like bad music and resent Pitchfork for calling that bad music bad.

So, being as important a music site as it is, Pitchfork's list of the 200 best albums of the 2000s is a big deal for music fans, critics, and anyone who loves a good list. Despite their impressive list track record in the past, though, this list disappoints a bit. First, the guidelines are a bit silly, I think. No artist can have more than three albums on the list, which is unfair to a band like Animal Collective, who has released more than three albums worthy of being in the top 200. Second, this list came out too early. Because 2009 has not yet had time to sink in, there are only three albums from 2009 on the entire list. (MPP, Veckatimest, Bitte Orca.) So, basically, this is a list of the best albums from 2000 to 2008. Third, the choices are very safe. Whereas Pitchfork had been pretty friendly to experimental music before, they fail to be on this list. They really stick to indie rock, with an occasional nod to white man hip-hop. Gas's Pop cracked the top 100, but that's really the only pleasant surprise.

It's a good list, don't get me wrong. Probably one of the best we'll see. But they would have benefited from waiting a bit longer and changing their rules a bit. Anyways, the list starts here, and the top fifteen is posted below with some brief opinions.

15. The Knife--Silent Shout
It's an amazing album. My only complaint: could've been even higher.
14. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
Another amazing album, and the mid-teens is actually a good place for it.
13. Outkast--Stankonia
Once again, I agree with this placing.
12. The White Stripes--White Blood Cells
I love this album. It should be higher. Top 5.
11. Ghostface Killah--Supreme Clientele
A great hip-hop album, but not quite #11-of-the-decade great.
10. The Avalanches--Since I Left You
I think they underrated this one, too.
9. Panda Bear--Person Pitch
I essentially agree.
8. Sigur Ros--Agaetis Byrjun
Certainly a great album, but a bit overrated here.
7. The Strokes--Is This It
See directly above explanation.
6. Modest Mouse--The Moon & Antarctica
Could've been higher. Truly amazing album.
5. Jay-Z--The Blueprint
I just don't understand the appeal of Jay-Z. Highly overrated.
4. Wilco--Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
This band and album are both yet to interest me.
3. Daft Punk--Discovery
This is semi-surprising and fully disappointing. Not that great an album.
2. The Arcade Fire--Funeral
A top 20 album for sure, it seems to have been rated this high because of impact, rather than quality.
1. Radiohead--Kid A
An entirely predictable choice, but it is a great album. Just not quite #1.

Worst omissions (from the top 200): Strawberry Jam by Animal Collective, SMiLE by Brian Wilson, The Lemon Of Pink by The Books, The Drift by Scott Walker, They Threw Us All... by Liars, Rise Above by Dirty Projectors, and many more

That's what I think of what they think. You'll see my version of this list some time in January, 2010.


  1. Kid A is becoming this decade's "Sgt. Pepper's", where it is ranked number one almost automatically. No offense to Kid A, or Sgt. Pepper's (which I think is NOT the best Beatles album), but it seems like they just put it there with no thought. Very safe pick, just like putting Sgt. Pepper's as the number one album of all time.

  2. I would have thought they could have been more creative with their number one spot. Perhaps putting Sound of Silver as their number one. I also would have been ok with Illinois, or even Return to Cookie Mountain, because of their uniqueness and (in my opinion) influential qualities. Kid A is predictable in a bad sense. I am happy to see Arcade Fire and Wilco so high, though.

  3. I agree with both of you. Except Kid A is better than Sgt. Pepper's.