50 Albums That Made The Decade – 2003
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell (April 28th 2003, Polydor Records)
Fever To Tell is one of those albums you’ll love or hate. At first, my relationship was one of hate, but hearing Maps for the first time changed all that. One of the singles of the decade (if not the single of the decade), it casts Yeah Yeah Yeahs in a completely different light from its petulant companions Date With The Night, Tick and the formidable Black Tongue. But after all that (admittedly very good) filth and fury, the penultimate track Y Control is mind-blowing in its brilliance. Karen O’s uncharacteristically measured refrain “# I wish I could buy back the woman that you stole #” is perhaps the most compelling thing she’s ever sung.
Best track – Y Control
Radiohead – Hail To The Thief (June 9th 2003, Parlophone)
A new Radiohead album is always worth the wait. Even if their next effort turns out to be a concept album about the world’s first oompah band, it will probably still sound highly relevant and chill the heart in the process. 2+2=5 is so immediate and so sinister that you know the band mean business from Thom Yorke’s first words. If the guitars taking off at 1.56 don’t send shivers down your spine, you must actually hate music. Hail To The Thief is the sound of a band starting to blend their early, rockier days with the electronic diversion they took at the start of the decade (although In Rainbows ultimately does a better job of marrying these two genres). This album is the perfect soundtrack to uncertain days – the year of the Columbia explosion, morally dubious military action in Iraq and Dr David Kelly’s mysterious and untimely death.
Best track – A Wolf At The Door
Muse – Absolution (September 22nd 2003, Warner Music/A&E Records)
Muse’s third album is typically overblown, but whereas parts of Origin Of Symmetry, in retrospect, sounded a bit like a bunch of fifteen year-olds having a bash at stadium rock in their uncle’s garage, this is very much the real deal. Apocalypse Please deserves to be turned up to fifteen on your car stereo – any lesser treatment would be tantamount to neglect. Stockholm Syndrome takes the Toccata And Fugue style melodies Matt Bellamy is so fond of and gives them a blast of 200 volts which propels them into the 21st century - don’t you think Johann Sebastian Bach would be a little bit jealous? Time Is Running Out manages to sound incredibly filthy whilst remaining commercial enough to have mass appeal, and Blackout is one of the rare occasions on which Muse manage to take it slow without crafting a musically ill-advised schmaltz-fest. It should thus be treasured.
Best track – Butterflies And Hurricanes
Amy Winehouse – Frank (October 20th 2003, Island Records)
Amy Winehouse’s Mercury-nominated debut is a little rougher than Back To Black in terms of production, and her vocal delivery is a little breezier and less rich, but Frank is still a gem. A wry yet talented storyteller, Winehouse sends up trampish, desperate wannabe WAGs on Fuck Me Pumps and makes a one-night stand sound justifiable on I Heard Love Is Blind. Take The Box is a genuine heartbreaker, its minimalistic backing allowing Amy’s lyrics to take the fore. It was about time someone gave the pseudo-jazz that was then fashionable a kick in the balls, and on Frank, Amy Winehouse did it with style.
Best track – I Heard Love Was Blind
words: Kate Goodacre
Coming up in 2004 on 50 Albums That Made The Decade...Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, Kings Of Leon and much, much more...