Lucky for us, the fervent nature of 2000s music didn’t completely diminish as the next decade took its place. It may seem as if the eras of mumble rap and monotonous beats have taken over, but it only requires a closer look at the past decade of music to see that isn’t completely the case. As the 2010s come to a close, it’s time to remember the unrecognized albums of genius from each year of the decade:
2010: Young the Giant (Young the Giant)
Key tracks: “I Got,” “12 Fingers,” “Strings”
Hardly ever are debut albums flawless, but Young the Giant showed that with passion, smooth vocals from Sameer Gadhia, irreproachable harmonies and infectious riffs, how could there be any blemishes? Though two of the album’s three singles — “Cough Syrup” and “My Body” — each found their way on the Billboard charts, its content is overlooked. Young the Giant talks heavily about the human condition yet juxtaposes it with feel-good instrumentation, and it was only telling of how far the band would go.
2011: Regional at Best (Twenty One Pilots)
Key tracks: “Forest,” “Kitchen Sink (Feat. Zack Joseph),” ''Be Concerned (Feat. Jocef)”
Everyone knows Columbus-based duo Twenty One Pilots for Vessel and, more notably, Blurryface, but Regional at Best is where many of Vessel’s biggest hits originated. This album isn’t available for purchase anymore, but it holds some of the most poignant, frank lyrics of its time. Twenty One Pilots will continue to evolve its sound, but the inviting yet aggressive nature of Regional at Best will forever be one of the band’s highlights.
2012: Scars & Stories (The Fray)
Key tracks: “Heartbeat,” “Run for Your Life,” “1961”
When The Fray comes up in conversation, most people think about its hit “How to Save a Life,” among others. No one talks about the band’s pinnacle: Scars & Stories, the riveting album that followed its well-known moments. The album was the brainchild of the band’s experiences of going around the world, and it doesn’t get enough credit for its profound lyricism and calming instrumentation.
2013: Common Courtesy (A Day To Remember)
Key tracks: “Violence (Enough Is Enough),” “I’m Already Gone,” “I Remember”
Metalcore and acoustic punk have never sounded better than on A Day To Remember’s Common Courtesy. Though the album attained decent success within the punk community, its message to recognize mental health and celebrate accomplishments should’ve reached farther. The band hasn’t released an entirely subpar album, but Common Courtesy was undoubtedly the peak.
2014: The Definition (Jon Bellion)
Key tracks: “Carry Your Throne,” “Human,” “Simple & Sweet”
Jon Bellion’s name is becoming more familiar to the masses with each passing day, as he’s produced recent hits such as “Memories” by Maroon 5. However, The Definition should’ve solidified his fame in 2014. His fresh sound, including creating instruments using solely his voice, intertwined with his soulful lyrics helped package this irreplaceable must-listen.
2015: Copacetic (Knuckle Puck)
Key tracks: “Swing,” “In Your Crosshairs,” “Untitled”
Copacetic is, simply put, pop-punk at its finest. The five-piece’s debut album depicts the struggles of life through eloquent storytelling, woven in roaring guitars and oh-so-beautiful harmonies. Copacetic and Knuckle Puck should’ve been on the radar of everyone looking for impactful music.
2016: Therapy Session (NF)
Key tracks: “Therapy Session,” “How Could You Leave Us,” “Statement”
The king of discussing mental health earned fame with the 2017 smash hit “Let You Down,” but NF should’ve been a household name from the moment he first took the mic. Therapy Session, an upfront, aggressive and dark composition that examines sensitive topics like his mother’s death, is a perfect example of that. The rapper has been compared to the likes of Eminem, but NF is his own person, using his personal experiences to cultivate a game-changing form of rap.
2017: Heiress (Novo Amor, Ed Tullett)
Key tracks: “Cavalry,” “Anatome,” “Ontario”
Novo Amor’s honeyed vocals blended with Ed Tullett’s exemplary songwriting and producing is a collaboration made in heaven. Heiress showcases the poetic essence that comes hand in hand with meaningful lyricism while being as instrumentally dreamlike as music can come. While Novo Amor’s “Anchor” — which is incredible in its own right — has appeared in a few commercials and even the soundtrack of Five Feet Apart, more attention should be given to his origins.
2018: Living Room (Lawrence)
Key tracks: “More,” “Whoever You Are,” “And Many More”
The eight-piece Lawrence is the ultimate embodiment of soul pop, and Living Room exemplifies that. The album delineates the ups and downs of life with a variety of funky, inviting instrumentation that drives the inexplicably compelling talent of both vocalists, siblings Gracie and Clyde Lawrence. There’s a track for every part of life, and it’s all delivered faultlessly.
2019: Good at Falling (The Japanese House)
Key tracks: “Wild,” “Follow My Girl,” “Lilo”
The one-woman show of Amber Bain, under the moniker The Japanese House, constructs music that’s as fascinating as humanly possible. Bain’s distinct vocals are guided by intricate, innovative production in her tremendous efforts to be her own form of healing. She channels all of her pain into her work — as “I saw you in a dream” is about her deceased friend — and it’s way too admirable to not warrant more attention.