As the decade comes to a close, the Saint Audio team is sharing the top ten albums that defined the 2010s for them. This week, Boocatti revisits her favorite albums from the 2010s.
10) Art Angels (2015) – Grimes
Grimes is an AI princess from another world, telling an odd and bizarre story of her life on this planet. An erratic and exciting artist, her music is a reflection of her unique individuality. Art Angels moves beyond the simple synth melodies of Grimes’ past projects, introducing more studio orchestral production with the intro “laughing at not being normal”. The album is a brightly-hued kaleidoscope of pop, electric, and grungy elements to create a sound that is uniquely Grimes. “Venus Fly,” featuring Janelle Monae, is a highlight of the album. The collaboration features two intergalactic divas channeling Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century in this space-pop anthem.
9) I Love You, Honeybear (2015) – Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear is an album for lovers. Each song is filled with the quirks of Father John Misty’s tongue-in-check lyricism and unexpected sounds, like the mariachi band that serenades the listener in “Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins)”. Father John Misty (otherwise known as Josh Tillman) captures the honeymoon phase of a relationship, and the intense rush of feelings that run high at this early stage. I Love You, Honeybear serves as a love letter to Father John Misty’s wife, and a dedication to their recent unity in marriage.
8) Invasion of Privacy (2018) – Cardi B
It’s the beginning of the festival season and you find yourself at Coachella, a week prior to Cardi B releasing her debut album. A very pregnant Cardi B is on stage rapping and twerking at an energy level so high that you question whether you keep up. Cardi B entered the charts at the speed of light with no intentions to slow down, and the momentum Invasion of Privacy kept throughout 2018 (and 2019) was truly impressive and unexpected.
Cardi B’s artistry has often been called in to question; before the success of Invasion of Privacy, she was a reality star striving for recognition and legitimacy as a rapper. Now, “I Like It,” the Latin trap crossover hit off the album, is currently sitting at nearly one billion streams on Spotify. People doubted her ability as an artist, so Cardi B did what Cardi B does best—she fought her way to the top and proved the world wrong.
7) Hive Mind (2017) – The Internet
The Internet is an R&B band fronted by former Odd Future member Syd. Formally a DJ for the controversial hip hop collective, Syd left Odd Future to pursue her own musical projects. The first couple of releases from The Internet involved trial and error, with Syd working on defining her voice, solidifying a band, and creating a sound that’s uniquely theirs. In 2015, The Internet received their first Grammy nomination with their album Ego Death, establishing the band as an important influence in modern R&B.
Their fourth album, Hive Mind, is a full-circle moment for the band that not only solidified the group, but represents their individual talents and contributions. It’s a defined sound, where all the elements they’ve explored and tested throughout their past albums have finally been perfected. Hive Mind is lush, full, and a perfect embodiment of The Internet’s creative strengths.
6) Goblin (2011) – Tyler, The Creator
The release of Goblin in 2011 was controversial. Mainstream media didn’t know what to make of brash rapper Tyler, The Creator and his hip hop collective, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. The album was far from pleasant; presenting itself as a string of therapy sessions, Tyler shares his troubles in dealing with dark, violent, and suicidal thoughts.
The album resonated quickly with younger audiences, who connected with Tyler as a troubled and rebellious teenager. Many mainstream media outlets dubbed Goblin as disturbing with an intent to shock, furthering the fervor among Tyler’s fanbase. Tyler didn’t conform to the demands of mainstream hip-hop or rap—he didn’t really fit in with any genre.
The chaos surrounding Tyler and the group allowed those who didn’t fit in to finally form their own radical punk-rap community. The fear and excitement Tyler brought to fans and critics was a groundbreaking moment in time for DIY music groups. Through the release and success of Goblin, the self-identified misfits and oddballs were given an outlet to cultivate our own communities outside of industry norms.
5) Acid Rap (2013) – Chance The Rapper
Back in 2013, Chatham’s own Chance The Rapper dropped his highly-anticipated second mixtape as a free download on Soundcloud. Independent and unsigned, Chance challenged the outdated rules of radio play and major record labels by running his own show his own way—in unconventional and selfless fashion. “Good Ass Intro” became the gospel of a happy and feel-good summer. Acid Rap is an eclectic mix of quick tempo juke, laid back soul, and gospel choir, that tells the dynamic and exuberant story of Chance the Rapper.
4) Sound & Color (2015) – Alabama Shakes
The first time I saw Alabama Shakes perform was at The Gorge, an amphitheater with the Columbian River and Washington mountains as their backdrop during a sunset performance. It was in this moment that I witnessed firsthand why Sound & Color was so monumental during its release, and it was due to the powerhouse that is Brittany Howard.
I’ve never seen a singer take to the stage in a way like she does. She went beyond just singing and playing the guitar—Howard told a story with her entire body and demeanor. Her face was full of expression, with the lyrics dancing out of her mouth, cheeks, and eyes—I felt every word of pain, frustration, love, and passion. The strumming and screeching of her guitar felt like her soul expressing itself through sound. The songs are frighteningly captivating and stunning, and the same live sensation is heard throughout the entire album. Sound & Color will shake you to your core and remind you of the power of emotion.
3) Flower Boy (2017) – Tyler, The Creator
Tyler’s first induction to mainstream culture and media was in 2011 at 19 years old with his release of Goblin, where he was portrayed as a chaotic and violent teenager. But as the years passed by, Tyler continued to grow, and each new album was a reflection of his personal life throughout the years. Call it maturing, call it change, or simply call it growth—when Tyler released Flower Boy, it introduced a completely new side to the Tyler we all thought we knew. Flower Boy is the complete polar opposite of Goblin. Goblin was an album that touched on Tyler’s mental health while exploring elements of hate, violence, and disturbing thoughts. Flower Boy is a deep dive into Tyler’s sensitive and emotional side, exploring love, relationships, and sexual identity.
Tyler is no longer an angsty teenager. He’s now an adult in his mid-20s, and this album re-establishes Tyler as an artist capable of progressing their sound through the years—he takes an especially unexpected turn in the dreamy duet with Kali Uchis, titled “See You Again”. This soft and romantic side holds promise to what Tyler will continue to deliver on future projects.
2) Random Access Memories (2013) – Daft Punk
It was the summer of 2013, and my friends and I were listening to Random Access Memories on repeat every day. It was our album of the summer, and we simply couldn’t control our obsession with it. It was funky, electric, smooth, melodic, peaceful, and lovely. We listened to this album on long drives to the desert, by the poolside on a sunny day, and on night drives home after a late show. The album complimented everything about the summer of 2013, the sense of no worries or stressors for a group of friends enjoying their last summer before senior year.
Aside from the personal mark this album left in my own life, I appreciated the album for its homage to the musical era of the ’70s and ’80s. The way the French duo focused on infusing various live instrumentation (drums, guitar, and orchestral choirs) with limited use of electronics to create a nostalgic-futuristic sound felt like a trip back in time. We are taken back to the early explorations of futuristic sounds through the synthesizer in the album’s 3rd track “Giorgio by Moroder”. This album is a beautiful tribute of our ability to express love and connection through our exploration of music and dance.
1) Currents (2015) – Tame Impala
One of the most magical things to come out of this past decade is Tame Impala. The solo project from Kevin Parker received massive popularity in 2015 with the release of their third studio album Currents. The album adds danceable synth-pop riffs to their dreamy psychedelic rock sound as Kevin invites listeners to find comfort in solitude. The comfort comes from accepting a break-up or end of a romantic relationship not as an ending or moment of loss, but as an opportunity to embark on a personal journey of growth and transformation. With songs like “Yes I’m Changing” and “Eventually,” we explore the surprising beauty in the end of a romance.