By: Timothy Coffman, Columnist
Featured image courtesy of amazon.com
Currently, albums tend to be a collection of singles rather than a solitary experience. People started to show little regard for the importance of albums after the turn of the millennium. However, there are still artists who not only work to produce albums, but also create modern works of art that can compete with the greatest albums of the past decades.
Adele, “21” (2011) – I know it may seem as a bit of a cop-out to put this on the list, but the songs speak for themselves. Adele has a certain soul to her voice which hasn’t been seen since the late Amy Winehouse, and no other performer in the past few years can boast such a strong lineup of classics like “Rolling in the Deep,” “Rumour Has It,” and “Set Fire to the Rain.” There is also a truly captivating version of the Cure’s “Lovesong” which shows Adele’s reverence to the pop sensibilities of the ‘80s. I’d say buy it, but chances are you’ve probably already heard them. It’s that good.
The Killers, “Hot Fuss” (2004) – While every rock fan was focused on being either pop punk or nu metal, the Killers came in with a synth-heavy approach to rock with the heartland spirit of the mid-’80s. They were Duran Duran by way of R.E.M. and Tom Petty, and the songs were revolutionary. While most people know “Mr. Brightside” or “Somebody Told Me,” other tracks like the romantic “Change Your Mind” and the mammoth showstopper “All These Things That I’ve Done” show the band’s range and are a testament to why the songs hold up more than a decade later.
Gorillaz, “Demon Days” (2005) – Although it may be considered cheating to put a virtual band on the list, this album is one of the spectacular oddities of the millennium thus far. While “Feel Good Inc.” is the upbeat single everyone remembers, the album has a dark apocalyptic vibe but never lacks the danceable spirit provided by producer Danger Mouse. Songwriter Damon Albarn showed his prowess for dreary music while still being incredibly captivating on tracks “Dirty Harry,” “DARE,” and the lonesome “November Has Come.”
Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly” (2015) -- I don’t typically talk about a ton of hip hop albums, but this album sets the benchmark of what all other rappers to come must aspire to be. Although Lamar proved himself on his previous effort “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City,” this album was where he took his songwriting to a new level. While not a concept album in the same sense as “M.A.A.D City,” this album has Lamar’s most biting lyrics and arguably the best instrumentation ever put on a rap album in the last decade. Standouts include “u,” “Wesley’s Theory,” and “How Much a Dollar Cost,” but my advice is to hear the album in full because listening to the individual tracks does not do justice to the excellence of Kendrick Lamar.
Green Day, “American Idiot” (2003)– When everyone was tense in the early 2000s after 9/11 and the beginning of the war in Iraq, Green Day released a scathing rock opera bashing the politics of the time through characters St. Jimmy, Whatsername, and Jesus of Suburbia. While the group had not had a breakout success since “Dookie,” “American Idiot” turned their career around with the most heartfelt songs they have ever written, like the title track, “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” With two grandiose nine-minute songs to bookend the story, this album is mandatory listening for any modern rock fan.