The Greatest Albums of the 2010s

Simply put, these are the 60 best albums of the decade as selected by Drunk Muskrat. The list spawns the essentials in hip-hop, indie, punk, metal, electronic, soul, and everything in between. These are seminal, classic releases that deserve their spot amongst the canon of brilliant, innovative recordings of decades past.

There is a slight bias on these list towards the earlier years of the decade considering there has been more time to observe how those albums and impacted and influenced the broader musical scope. This is a list of 60, with more detailed write-ups and explanations given for the top 10.

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60. World Spirituality Classics 2

The Time for Peace is Now (2019)

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59. Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City (2013)

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58. Converge

All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)

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57. Ought

More Than Any Other Day (2014)

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56. Macintosh Plus

The Floral Shoppe (2011)

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55. Carly Rae Jepsen

E•MO•TION (2015)

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54. Grimes

Visions (2012)

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53. Kacey Musgraves

Golden Hour (2018)

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52. A Tribe Called Quest

We got it from here … Thank You 4 your service (2016)

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51. Kamasi Washington

The Epic (2015)

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50. Beach House

Teen Dream (2010)

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49. Lana Del Rey

Norman Fucking Rockwell! (2019)

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48. Charli XCX

Pop 2 (2017)

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47. James Blake

James Blake (2011)

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46. Weyes Blood

Titanic Rising (2019)

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45. Kids See Ghosts

Kids See Ghosts (2018)

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44. Jon Hopkins

Immunity (2013)

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43. Sturgill Simpson

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016)

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42. Jlin

Black Origami (2017)

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41. Tyler, the Creator

IGOR (2019)

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40. black midi

Schlagenheim (2019)

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39. Frank Ocean

Channel Orange (2012)

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38. Solange

A Seat at the Table (2016)

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37. Angel Olsen

My Woman (2016)

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36. Tame Impala

Currents (2015)

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35. Pantha du Prince

Black Noise (2010)

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34. Oneohtrix Point Never

Replica (2011)

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33. Deerhunter

Halcyon Digest (2010)

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32. St. Vincent

St. Vincent (2014)

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31. Kendrick Lamar

good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)

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30. PJ Harvey

Let England Shake (2011)

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29. Car Seat Headrest

Teens of Denial (2016)

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28. Daughters

You Won’t Get What You Want (2018)

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27. My Bloody Valentine

m b v (2013)

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26. Vince Staples

Summertime ‘06 (2015)

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25. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

Piñata (2014)

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24. A.A.L.

2012-2017 (2018)

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23. Flying Lotus

Cosmogramma (2010)

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22. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Skeleton Tree (2016)

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21. Beyoncé

Lemonade (2016)

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20. Mount Eerie

A Crow Looked At Me (2017)

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19. King Krule

The OOZ (2017)

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18. Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels 2 (2014)

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17. David Bowie

Blackstar (2016)

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16. LCD Soundsystem

This is Happening (2010)

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15. Frank Ocean

Blonde (2016)

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14. Sun Kil Moon

Benji (2014)

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13. Radiohead

A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

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12. Daft Punk

Random Access Memories (2013)

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11. Danny Brown

Atrocity Exhibition (2016)

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10. Death Grips

The Money Store (2012)

It’s hard to pinpoint an established act who has garnered such a deep online cult following, and in that way Death Grips is truly a product of the Internet age. But disregarding the theatrics and the insistent trolling from these guys, and you have an uncompromising and entirely unheard sound that exists somewhere in the spectrum of hip-hop, industrial, and hardcore punk. With MC Ride’s villainous snarls, Zach Hill’s chaotic and sinister drum patterns, and Andy Morins claustrophobic programming, The Money Store is the most furious and destructive collection of songs released in the past ten years.

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9. FKA Twigs

LP 1 (2014)

Before releasing her debut EP and earth shattering first studio record, Tahliah Barnett was a backup dancer learning the inside-out nuances of the pop music landscape, so intimately in fact that she discovered how to twist them and turn it on its head. Working with various producers such as Arca, Blood Orange, Clams Casino, Emilie Haynie, and Paul Epsworth, FKA Twigs powerful, intimate voice cuts through skittering, dark, and intricately crafted beats. LP1 is a masterful blend of underground electronic, R&B, and abstract pop music with an unmatched sense of liberation and ambition.

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8. Savages

Silence Yourself (2013)

Taking the raw primal nature of punk and injecting a level of musical complexity and a fiercely intelligent literary quality, the British quartet crafted an unrelenting onslaught that is nothing short of a triumph. Spiraling guitars, barreling drums, and Jehnny Beth’s apocalyptic shouts all come together for one of the finest rock albums of recent years, the defining moment for punk this decade.

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7. D’Angelo

Black Messiah (2014)

After a series of delays and a practical disappearance from D’Angelo, it would have been understandable for fans to give up on the R&B legend ever following up his landmark release Voodoo. But after 14 years, D’Angelo returned with his masterpiece, a spiritually dense response to the recent police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. “All we wanted was a chance to talk, ‘stead we only got outline in chalk,” he proclaims. Black Messiah gives a fresh and immaculately crafted blend of soul, jazz, funk, and gospel. It’s an evocative piece of art well worth the wait.

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6. Sufjan Stevens

Carrie and Lowell (2015)

Carrie and Lowell may very well be Sufjan Steven’s best album to date, and that’s pitting it up against some already seminal classics. Known for his eccentric and often quirky arrangements, Stevens forgoes those tendencies for something sparse, quiet, and impossibly majestic. Sufjan’s mother left his household at a very young age, and died a few years before the release of this album, and her departure looms heavily throughout.This is a deeply felt, personal record for Sufjan that deals with sorrow, death, and reconciliation. It is an absolutely gorgeous record strong in its stripped down simplicity.

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5. Swans

To Be Kind (2014)

With a career spanning over multiple decades, Michael Gira and company have had time to hone in and evolve their elemental, unhinged sound. Over time, Swans have experimented with elements of industrial, post-punk, and goth. All of those influences culminate perfectly on To Be Kind, a 2-hour epic that never lets off the gas. “Bring the Sun” is a 34-minute track that demands attention for its entirety, masterfully playing with shifting dynamics and nuanced, violent arrangements. It’s Swans most audacious masterwork and the most dangerous listening experience of its time.

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4. Julia Holter

Loud City Song (2013)

Julia Holter, the experimental singer-songwriter, came out in 2013 with her most mystifying collection of songs of her career. An alluring blend of free jazz, neo-classical, and chamber pop, Holter challenges her listeners with a dense palette, but one that is infinitely rewarding. It’s an abstract, avant-garde clinic, but one that holds onto wonderful pop appeal without drifting into the unattainable oblique.

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3. Deafheaven

Sunbather (2013)

Sunbather was the most talked about metal record of the decade for good reason. The now immortalized second album by Deafheaven ignores the sneers of the purists as it combines the ferocity of black metal with the melancholic sounds of shoegaze and the cinematic sprawl of post-rock. It is a climactic record that finds new ways to be both punishing and uplifting simultaneously. Sunbather is not beautiful in spite of its abrasive elements; it’s beautiful because of them. It is metal’s defining moment in the 2010s.

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2. Kendrick Lamar

To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)

Kendrick Lamar had already come out with an instant classic with good kid, m.A.A.d city, but he absolutely topped in with the follow up To Pimp a Butterfly. Calling it a hip-hop album doesn’t due it justice, as this is a dense, invigorating piece of literature. Its filled with astute cultural observations and prophetic takes on politics, race-relations, and self-preservation in face of dire time. One of its biggest singles, “Alright,” became an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Kendrick Lamar ponders his role and responsibility as a black celebrity over lush production inspired by his love of funk, jazz, and soul. To Pimp a Butterfly is a rare feat that feels completely necessary, one that speaks convicting truths to the culture it was given to.

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1. Kanye West

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

Kanye West is pop culture’s most erratic and bewildering figure. His bizarre outbursts lends way to a confusing, frustrating, and at his best fascinating persona. All of that reached a peak on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an album of contradictions that feeds into West’s towering ego while also engaging his deep rooted insecurities. The vulnerable, transparent nature of this record crawls deep into its complex protagonist’s psyche. If one was to ignore the multilayered, endlessly dissected subject matter, this is still an impeccably produced masterwork by one of hip-hops most forward thinking perfectionists. Whether it be the sonic maximalism on the King Crimson sampling “Power",” or the gorgeous, simple piano lines on “Runaway,” this record goes from one awe-inspiring production moment to another. It uses hip-hops mechanics but plays like an ambitious progressive rock opus. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy forever changed the game as it laid the groundwork for more conceptual, inward looking hip-hop albums. It’s a direct influence for many albums already on this list, albums that couldn’t exist without this one. Almost a decade later, and it has earned its place among hip-hops milestones and one of the greatest albums ever made.

Matt Marciniec