For the last few years, I’ve been ending each year with a list of my faves in music from the past year. I plan on doing it again but since 2019 is the last year in this decade I thought I’d also include a list of my favorite albums of the last 10 years. I definitely have a clear cut favorite and second favorite, but after those two, there’s really no particular order.
This list is defined by albums that I’ve listened to in full for days, weeks, months, or just repeatedly for no set amount of time. It’s a list of albums that I couldn’t get enough of. My two favorites on this list have been in my car since I bought them in 2011 and 2012. I still listen to them occasionally. You could probably chalk them up on the list of my favorite albums of all time, but the others are special to me as well.
So let’s get down to it. Here are my top 15 (plus a few honorable mentions!) favorite albums of the 2010’s:
Torches -Foster the People (2011)
My absolute, number one, favorite album and Foster the People’s debut album. I wrote once about how Foster the People really shaped the music I got into this decade going from being into punk/emo/alternative music to indie pop/indie rock. This album did it for me in 2011. Foster the People was a new, hype band on the music scene. They played SXSW and Coachella the spring before their first album dropped. When I got into them I learned about Coachella for the first time. So this band and album really shaped a lot about this decade for me.
I’ve loved Torches from top to bottom since I purchased it in May 2011. “Helena Beat” was the first song that hooked me, but despite any criticism it’s received over the years, “Pumped Up Kicks” kept me around. It’s filled with other bangers like “Houdini” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”, but it has plenty of underrated hits like “Call It What You Want”, “I Would Do Anything For You”, “Life on the Nickel” and “Warrant”. Since I bought a record player in 2012, I’ve been adamant about not purchasing records that I already have on CD. This month I broke that rule for this album. It’s one of my all-time favorite works of music and the best of this decade for me. It was about time that I own it on vinyl too.
Born to Die -Lana Del Rey (2012)
Born to Die is Lana Del Rey’s debut album. It came out in 2012 and I’ve loved it ever since. I listened to it constantly once I bought it. Like Torches, it’s the only other album that’s stayed in my car since I purchased it. I remember thinking Lana Del Rey and her music were completely ridiculous when I bought the album, but I fell into it and the rest of her music. It was the song “National Anthem” that convinced me. It’s still my favorite Lana Del Rey song to this day. “Diet Mountain Dew” was always another favorite of mine as well. Born to Die is filled with several other classics like “Born to Die” the title track, “Blue Jeans”, “Off to the Races”, “Video Games” the album’s first single, and Lana’s biggest hit “Summertime Sadness”. I’ll always love Pabst Blue Ribbon because of “This Is What Makes Us Girls” too. This album was always on in my car for a few months in the summer of 2012. It got me into Lana Del Rey and she became one of my favorite artists of the decade as well.
Days Are Gone -HAIM (2013)
In early 2014, I discovered the sister trio band Haim. I decided to buy their debut album Days Are Gone because I liked their songs “Falling” and “Don’t Save Me”. I might have taken a risk on two songs but it was a great risk to take. I loved the album and had it in my car for quite some time. I really got into “The Wire”. I also loved “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “Forever”, “Honey & I”, and “Days Are Gone” in addition to the others I already liked.
I had Haim’s album in my car for a very long time as well. It ended up on repeat in my car once again in the summer of 2016 shortly before I saw them perform for the first time at my first Lollapalooza. It’s definitely an album I’ve loved a lot this decade and the reason why I’ve loved Haim a lot too.
An Awesome Wave -alt-J (2012)
Compared to the rest of the albums on this list An Awesome Wave is a little bit different for me. I got it on vinyl years after I started listening to the music on it. I also listened to each song at different points. It all started with “Breezeblocks” though. Pretty Little Liars actress Troian Bellisario posted about the song on social media and after listening once, I downloaded the song. Then a day later it was “Something Good”. Then “Fitzpleasure”, “Taro”, and “Tessellate”, in that order, through the course of 5 years. In the meantime, their second album This is All Yours came out and “Left-Hand Free” became my jam too. When I saw them perform at Coachella in 2018, I was with several co-workers when we all danced freely to “Dissolve Me”. By that point their third album Relaxer was already out as well. I got into “Dissolve Me” though and decided last year that it was time to own An Awesome Wave. I then completed listening to the album by getting into “Matilda”, “Ms”, “Bloodflood”, and “Hand-Made”.
An Awesome Wave really spanned the decade for me, but so did alt-J. I saw them play about 5 times over the last 5 years and it’s always been an enjoyable set every time. Their unique sound has always been a catch for me and I’m sure they’ll be releasing new music in this new decade before we know it.
21 -Adele (2011)
Up until I got into Adele’s album, 21, I despised pop music. The song “Rolling in the Deep” was the one that really got me interested in Adele. It was on a sampler CD from my local record store. I bought the album around the same time I bought Torches and both albums became the soundtrack to one of my favorite vacations of all time. I listened to both albums repeatedly on that early June trip to Williamsburg, Virginia and my love for Adele began.
Of course I was into 25 when it came out in late 2015 and 19 somewhere around that time, but it was 21 that made me feel okay with liking a pop artist again. I also just really liked the album. “Rumour Has It”, “Set Fire to Rain”, “Someone Like You”, “I’ll Be Waiting”, and “One and Only” are pretty great songs even though “Rolling in the Deep” always has my heart. 21 does too. It came out of the blue uninvited, but it came to stay.
Heartthrob -Tegan and Sara (2013)
I got into Tegan and Sara while I was still in college in 2009, but their album Heartthrob really made me a fan. It was the album that put them into the mainstream music world for a bit. I didn’t get into the album until a year after its release in 2014. I fell hard for it though. It became the soundtrack of another trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. The hit song “Closer” was the one that suckered me in. I got into so many others though like “I Was A Fool”, “I’m Not Your Hero”, “Drove Me Wild”, “Now I’m All Messed Up” and “Goodbye, Goodbye”. Heartthrob revitalized my interest in Tegan and Sara and I’ve been a bigger fan ever since because of it.
Pure Heroine -Lorde (2013)
I was introduced to Lorde in the summer of 2013 from her breakout song “Royals”. From there I also got into the song “Tennis Court” and “Bravado”. I remember anticipating her debut album during my first trip to California especially because of the line in “Tennis Court” that goes “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane.” That flight to California wasn’t my first flight, but it was my first flight in 9 years. I purchased the album as soon as I got home from Cali. It was my go-to album for a few weeks as I got into several other tracks on the record like “400 Lux”, “Team”, “White Teeth Teens”, “Glory and Gore”, and “A World Alone”.
Sacred Hearts Club -Foster the People (2017)
In the last 10 years Foster the People solidified their spot as my favorite band. I remember being so excited for their second album after Torches but Supermodel didn’t quite live up to my expectations. After their sophomore release, it was then a few years of silence before the group released new tunes. 2017 was one of the best years in music of this decade for me. It was filled with great albums by plenty of my favorite bands and artists, which included Sacred Hearts Club by Foster the People.
Foster the People dropped three songs from the record in the spring “Pay the Man”, “Doing it For the Money”, and “SHC” and I listened to those three quite frequently until the album came out in July. When it did, I immediately fell in love with the song “Sit Next to Me”. I listened to it non-stop along with the rest of the album and songs like “Lotus Eater”, “Static Space Lover”, “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”, and “I Love My Friends”. It was only about 2 weeks after the album dropped that I was able to see Foster the People live again at Lollapalooza (the last time I saw them was in 2014). They were incredible. I then bought tickets to see them play in Philly in September as a treat to myself after my position was cut from a festival I was supposed to work. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and was filled with 2 full hours of music from my favorite band including the best encore that I could have ever imagined. I caught the set list too! I owe that night to Foster the People and Sacred Hearts Club.
Wild World -Bastille (2016)
When Bastille’s sophomore album dropped, I got into Bastille. Sure I knew about Bastille before that. There were a few songs I liked from Bad Blood. Some might even argue saying Bastille’s Bad Blood really set the tone for the band, but for me it was the second album Wild World. “Good Grief” and “Send Them Off!” were always my go-to songs, but “The Currents”, “Power”, “Warmth”, and “Blame” were great songs as well. I listened to the album for weeks. Bastille recently released their third album this year. Even though the album is great, it still doesn’t do for me what Wild World did.
Ultraviolence -Lana Del Rey (2014)
Lana Del Rey’s second album was highly anticipated for me after my love of Born to Die. In between the albums, she also released the EP Paradise which was another incredible compilation of music. When Ultraviolence came out, it successfully did for me what Foster the People’s Supermodel couldn’t and since both Foster the People and Lana Del Rey were my faves I expected the best from them. Ultraviolence gave me that. “Money Power Glory”, “Brooklyn Baby”, “Ultraviolence”, “West Coast”, and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” were my favorites. The album picked up where Born to Die left off and that’s all you can really ask from a band or artist.
Melodrama -Lorde (2017)
I always knew Foster the People and Lana Del Rey would be on this list more than once, but who knew I liked Lorde so much? Melodrama was also an incredible follow-up album to Pure Heroine. Like Sacred Hearts Club, it was part of that 2017 wave of new music. Lorde released the first single “Green Light” in early March. That song got me stoked for the new album because it was an absolute banger. Then she dropped “Liability”. I hated the song at first. It took hearing the song live on the last night of Coachella Weekend 2 to make me fall in love with it. The album released 2 months later and I remember being so pleased with how good it was. “Homemade Dynamite”, “Perfect Places”, “Sober”, and “Supercut” added to my love for “Green Light” and “Liability” made the album a hit. I wasn’t the only one that thought so either since it was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year.
Woodstock -Portugal. The Man (2017)
Who would have thought Portugal. The Man would have made a statement with their 8th album? They did though and it was the hit “Feel It Still” that did it. The entirety of Woodstock is fantastic though. In fact, I feel like “Feel It Still” is the song that doesn’t quite fit with the album. The first time I heard the song I thought it was Electric Guest but was shocked to find out it was in fact Portugal. The Man, whose song “People Say” was one of my favorites when I was a radio DJ in college. “Live in the Moment”, “Tidal Wave”, “Number One”, and “Keep On” are a few other great jams from Woodstock. The album left an impression and I’m sure we’ll be feeling it still even when Portugal. The Man releases more music.
El Camino -The Black Keys (2012)
The Black Keys had plenty of albums before El Camino and those albums, particularly its pre-cursor Brothers, were big in the indie rock music scene. El Camino is the album that got me into The Black Keys though. I got the album in 2012 and saw the band perform live two years later. “Lonely Boy” was the song that got me started on The Black Keys, but El Camino was full of hits like “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Little Black Submarine”, “Stop Stop” and “Dead and Gone”. I learned how to play a few of those on guitar too. The Black Keys haven’t stopped making music in the last decade and have released two albums since El Camino, the most recent being this year, but El Camino will always be special to me.
Heard It In A Past Life -Maggie Rogers (2019)
Last winter I debated buying this album on vinyl while I was listening to Maggie Rogers as part of my Coachella preparations. Ultimately I decided with the help of my instagram followers that I should buy the vinyl. I did and it was a great purchase. The debut album from Maggie Rogers is a thing of beauty. “Light On”, “Fallingwater”, “Give a Little”, “Alaska”, and “Burning” are incredible. Oh and there’s also “Back in My Body”, but I’ll get more into that song when I recap this past year. The album was one of my favorites of the last year and I was pretty shocked when it didn’t get a Grammy nomination. The album is still tops in my book and one of my favorites of the last decade.
This Is Happening -LCD Soundsystem (2010)
When I think about it, there’s only three words that can describe This Is Happening: “Dance Yrself Clean”. It was the song that got me into LCD Soundsystem a year after the “final” show at Madison Square Garden thanks to Suits actor Patrick J. Adams and Troian Bellisario (yes, again!). Over the years I got into LCD Soundsystem and their small-ish, but excellent discography. I never thought I’d be able to see the band until right before Christmas in 2015 when the band dropped a Christmas song, “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” (which I’ve actually listened to twice today) which sort of signified their return. A few weeks later they were on the Coachella lineup and officially back. They dropped a new album American Dream in 2017 and I was able to see them twice once they returned, at Lollapalooza in 2016 and at my favorite venue in Philly in 2017 with a friend who was actually at their “last” show.
Oddly enough, I don’t own This Is Happening in any form. It kind of doesn’t fit this list in that regard, except it’s kind of like An Awesome Wave. I’ve listened to all the songs on this album at different points over the last decade. “Drunk Girls” is one of my favorite LCD Soundsystem songs. “You Wanted A Hit” was the song I got into after seeing them play for the first time. Then there’s “I Can Change”, “Home” and “All I Want”, which I actually just got into recently. Over the last 10 years, LCD Soundsystem earned a special place in my heart, but I sort of owe that to This Is Happening.
The 1975 -The 1975 (2013)
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful -Florence + the Machine (2015)
AM -Arctic Monkeys (2013)
Without Fear -Dermot Kennedy (2019)
So there you have it. All my favorite albums from the last 10 years. Actually, there’s probably more, but these are the ones that stood out the most. Thanks to music for all that I love and thanks to these great bands and artists for putting amazing tunes into the world. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings or where music will take me both personally and professionally. I can only hope for the best, but so far it’s been nothing short of incredible.