There are lists that every record reviewer loves to write: “Top five songs for a rainy day.” “The best songs to get over a break-up.” “Twenty songs to start a Monday.” But there is one kind of list that nobody relishes doing: the best of the _____. The best of the year can be enjoyable, provided your December involves re-listening to everything and not, as the case is whenever the last week rolls around for me, a mad dash to take in everything you were too stubborn to put down because you just simply didn’t want to stop listening to that Parenthetical Girls album. But, there is one point that I can’t imagine anyone who writes about music, for fun or for profit, enjoys: the end of the decade.
And so here we are, in the 8th month of 2009, meaning that the time has (technically) come, to discuss what was really, really good in the last ten years. Gee, wasn’t Yankee Hotel Foxtrot magnificent, or what about Agaetis Byrjun? And what about Kid A? How exactly does one simply put an album like White Blood Cells over Chutes Too Narrow, or, if you aren’t on the Pitchfork writing staff, De-Loused in the Comatorium? In the end, you’ll just spend too much time pulling out your hair, trying to figure out if Picaresque really does belong in a spot higher than Bitte Orca, and you’ll look at the clock, it’ll be 2011, and you’ll go, “Now what was I doing again?”
I am someone who will inevitably try and establish some sort of record hierarchy for the decade, but, and this is going to sound very silly, it just isn’t fair. The albums that people refer to as “the best of (insert large time span here)” are the ones that stay with you in 20 years time, the kind of records that you get in bar fights over and you sacrifice the car to keep in a nasty divorce. It’s unfair to say that you liked Boys & Girls in America more, even though “Citrus” and “First Night” didn’t make you cry as much as every single time you heard “Love Love Love” or “Of Angels & Angles.”
So, it is with complete fairness that I have decided that the end of the decade should call for celebration of every album that made the decade great. It calls for a celebration of songs like “Wake Up” and “Chicago,” everything from the pop genius of “Stillness is the Move” to the fucked up disco of “Idioteque,” and everywhere in between. It is my intent to discuss these albums, and why they remain so powerful and, in the end, flawless.