10 Best Albums From 2000
So the world didn’t crumble after all. After all of the Y2K fears, 2000 came (and eventually went) without the big bang so many conspiracy theorists had predicted and prepared for. But the new era did unveil a rush of great music that sounded like it was part of a reboot. From electronic whirs and sample-heavy head-spinners to stripped-down alt-country and arena-sized global anthems, these are the 10 Best Albums From 2000.
‘Since I Left You’
The only album by this mysterious electronic collective from Australia is built on vintage R&B samples, vocal snippets and one of the most inventive uses of old-school breakbeats in the ’90s. The still-amazing title track is the record’s centerpiece, but the whole thing falls together with eyes-wide-open trailblazing and wonderment.
At times, Coldplay’s debut album sounds like a mix of U2‘s inherent grandeur and Radiohead‘s deliberate artiness. But as the young band feels around for a voice, it stumbles on a pure pop formula that doesn’t come as naturally to either other band. The music on ‘Parachutes’ runs from somber and subdued to cold and ambitious. It’s the start of something grand.
What kind of band sings nothing but “nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol … cocaine” for three minutes straight and then calls the song ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’? One of the sludgiest stoner-rock groups of the 21st century. Queens of the Stone Age’s second album is a bit more refined than 1998’s self-titled debut, but not by much. It’s just that the riffs are sharper and the intention is clearer. Massively huge. And sludgy, of course.
After three stellar records to round out the ’90s, the New Jersey trio stripped down and revealed a softer, warmer side on their ninth album. It’s a diverse listen, ranging from moody hymns to playful covers to an 18-minute closer called ‘Night Falls on Hoboken’ that pretty much sums up Yo La Tengo’s workplace and personal aesthetic. It’s a lovely record, steeped in marital bliss.
Adams’ solo debut (after fronting alt-country wunderkinds Whiskeytown for six years) spreads out his influences — everyone from Bob Dylan to Gram Parsons to the rowdy college-rock punk bands he’s always embraced — to serve a set of interwoven songs about a breakup. It should have been a sign of things to come that Adams had more material than he knew what to do with, but ‘Heartbreaker’ pulls it all together with a strong sense sharply defined songcraft.
An extension of the Beatlesque sounds first explored on 1998’s ‘XO,’ ‘Figure 8′ sounds live a carnival at times, full of life and happiness. The textures and layers that gave ‘XO’ so much depth are peeled back a bit, revealing the excellent songs at the core. It’s one of Smith’s best records and the last he’d finish before his death in 2003.
The breakthrough record by Iceland’s Sigur Rós sounds unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Laced with the most gorgeous, ethereal melodies indie rock has ever produced and a sense of tranquility in both the music and vocals, ‘Ágætis Byrjun’ gently unravels over 70 minutes like a gift from another world. A beautiful, sublime gift graced with striking subtlety.
‘Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea’
PJ Harvey spent some time in New York City before returning to her native England to record this love letter to the Big Apple. Like most of her albums, ‘Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea’ is crazy focused, slipping in and out of shared themes with effortless grace. But Harvey finds a calming balance of love and happiness on her fifth album. It doesn’t tear and scar like ‘Dry’ or ‘Rid of Me’ or even the blues-washed ‘To Bring You My Love.’ ‘Stories’ begins the healing.
‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’
U2 occupied the better part of a decade trying on new styles and deconstructing their legend piece by piece. ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ was their first big anthemic rock record since ‘The Joshua Tree’ made them global superstars 13 years earlier. ‘Achtung Baby’ is a more adventurous and ambitious record, but ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ is a bigger one — in scope and delivery. Its uplifting spirit would resonate even more following the tragic events of 9/11.
‘OK Computer’ was just the tip of the iceberg. On ‘Kid A,’ Radiohead get over their fear of technology (sort of) and embrace the machines. The electronic music on ‘Kid A’ (and the following year’s ‘Amnesiac,’ which was assembled from the same sessions) is cold, bracing, jarring, brilliant and not without a human element. There’s a pulse beneath the rattles and hums and a striking sense of purpose. This is the moment where Radiohead became the world’s most important band.