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Retrospective reviews: 10 albums, 10 years ago



Some might say 2005 was a simpler time. It was a time when some millennials were immersed in “scene” culture and the world of Myspace and Tripp pants. It was a time of rushing to Blockbuster every week to rent the newest movies and texting your friends on your Motorola Razr. But out of everything it was also a time of surprisingly good music. Below is a list of 10 essential albums from 10 years ago.

10. Gorillaz – Demon Days: Though the virtual band gained fame from its debut LP in 2001, Gorillaz didn’t reach critical success until the release of Demon Days, which earned five Grammy award nominations. The album included the band’s most popular single “Feel Good Inc.” The fictional band, featuring Blur’s Damon Albarn, revolutionized creativity in music of the digital age by bringing something completely new to the table.

9. Spoon – Gimme Fiction: Simply put, Spoon is an underrated band. The Texan group has released nothing short of solid releases since its 1993 inception. Led by Britt Daniel’s raspy and soulful voice, Gimme Fiction included tracks like the simple and somber “I Summon You” – Stephen King’s favorite song of the year according to an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

8. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois: Regardless of the release, Sufjan Stevens always does a great job of crafting a magical listening experience; this especially comes through on Illinois. The release is a concept album with songs referencing the specific cultural landscape of the midwestern state. Through use of full orchestral backing, tracks like the hauntingly beautiful “Chicago,” become larger than life.

7. Stars – Set Yourself on Fire / Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene: Both bands share some of the same members and therefore share a spot on this list. Both groups also released brilliant, baroque pop influenced indie records in 2005. Set Yourself on Fire held heartbreaking tracks like “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” popularized by shows like The O.C, while Broken Social Scene offered soaring beauties like “7/4 (Shoreline)” making the two releases complementary yet distinct.

6. M83 – Before the Dawn Heals Us: This LP was the third album by the French electronic shoegaze band of recent “Midnight City” fame, and was the first to feature more vocals and pop structure, contrasting its predecessor which focused on instrumentals and sampling. Though a diversion from their prior work, M83 kept its trademark sound signature: gorgeous, cinematic electronic soundscapes.

5. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm: The London-based post-punk revival band was lucky that its debut album received fast critical acclaim, but with strong and passionate hits like “Helicopter,” featured in Guitar Hero III, and “Like Eating Glass” it’s not a surprise why.

4. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning: Sad boys and girls around the world rejoiced at the release of this folk-inspired LP. With tear inducers like “Lua” and “First Day of My Life,” this release served as a mature, coming-of-age journey for singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, as well as his dedicated fans.

3. Death Cab For Cutie – Plans: Though, in my opinion, no where near the band’s best material, this release still had hit tracks like “Soul Meets Body” and one of the band’s most popular singles to date with “I Will Follow You Into The Dark,” fully propelling the Bellingham-based group to indie stardom.

2. Fall Out Boy – From Under The Cork Tree: This album was critical to the “emo revival” and Warped Tour fueled pop-punk of the 2000s and served as a soundtrack to teenage angst, lost friends and unrequited love. With tracks like “Dance Dance” and “Sugar We’re Going Down,” this release is an important snapshot into a specific slice of 2005.

1. Why? – Elephant Eyelash: Though not as popular as some of the other releases on this list, this album easily holds its own. Curating a smart mix of indie and alternative hip-hop, this LP was a hidden gem of the mid 2000s. The first release by Why? as a full band, Elephant Eyelash includes full instrumentation not heard on earlier releases. Undeniably personal, sometimes uncomfortably so, the LP digs into the psyche of frontman Yoni Wolf, and has the power to dig into yours as well.

Runner-ups: The Fall of Troy – Doppelgänger, Paramore – All We Know Is Falling, Black Eyed Peas – Monkey Business, Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself, Sigur Rós – Takk…, Kanye West – Late Registration

Check out the Emerald’s favorites from 2005 on our Spotify playlist below.


Follow Meerah Powell on Twitter at @meerahpowell

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Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell