After five years, 250-odd FACT mixes and far too many uses of the word ‘ethereal’, we’re here – the pivot point of the 2010s.
To honour the milestone, here’s our version of an ill-advised midlife crisis splurge – our rundown of the 100 best albums of the decade so far.
Plotting any sort of ranked list of recent releases is always difficult: it’s easy to call XXJFG a classic, but anointing a recent Soundcloud giveaway as one for the ages can seem like folly. At times, we’ve felt like Neil Buchanan stranded in an art attack – there’s an amazing picture there somewhere, but how the hell do you see it?
As such, we’ve tried as best we can to celebrate records that have done one (or, as we ascend the list, all) of the following: proved influential or important with peers; withstood the ravages of time (or hype); embodied or popularised a particular sound; or earned semi-legendary status amongst our staff. It’s also partly a wrong-redressing exercise – a chance to give proper credit to albums we might have missed or underrated at the time. Don’t expect it to look like previous FACT rundowns (or, on that point, our Best of 2014 list) – it’s a list tailored to the task, and very much a product of our current staff and tastes.
The result touches on some familiar trends: knackered house, rave de/re-constructions, rap + psychedelia, kohl-eyed R&B, and all manner of ‘80s worship. But, true to the diverse range of music we’ve been covering, it’s also stacked with anomalies, obscurities and curveballs. And it’s worth noting that almost a quarter of these albums were given away for free – some as mixtapes, some as mixes, and some as other things entirely.
We’ve kicked off proceedings by revealing the bottom half of the list; we’ll follow up with numbers 50-1 tomorrow.