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The 40 Best Albums of 2009

January 2010

1 The XX-The XX (Young Turks)

S anity is a grace we all need.

In London, perhaps more than any other city, it’s in short supply. Narrow streets hold tiny flats, squeezing inhabitants into a world of claustrophobia and desperation. No wonder that it’s in the capital that the most original music of recent years, dubstep, with its booming, echoing spaces, first developed.

The XX are four kids (now three) who come from south London. They know dubstep. Their eponymous album is 2009's best album. The XX takes us into the genre’s emotional and physical space. Part bed-sit, part squat, its delicate love songs – minimally laid out with soft beats and gentle synths - draw from avant-garde hip-hop to R&B to pure pop.

Singles ‘Basic Space’ and ‘Crystallized’ are smoky duets dusted with an insular intimacy. Nothing’s too much; and everything is needed - like we all ask to be. But the beauty spills into richness, and this feels like diamonds in the midst of grime.






2 Fuck Buttons-Tarot Sport (ATP)





3 Kathy Diamond-Miss Diamond to You (Permanent Vacation)





4 Animal Collective-Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)





5 The Mary Onettes-Islands (Labrador)





6 Tyondai Braxton-Central Market (Warp)





7 Wilco-Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch)





8 Yeah Yeah Yeahs-It’s Blitz! (Interscope)





9 Various-5 Years of Hyperdub (Hyperdub)





10 Neko Case-Middle Cyclone (Anti-)





11 Joan As Police Woman-Cover (Reveal)





12 Raekwon-Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt 2 (EMI)





13 Avett Brothers-I And Love and You (Columbia)





14 M Ward-Hold Time (Merge)





15 Dinosaur Jr-Farm (Jagjaguwar)





16 David Bazan-Curse Your Branches (Barsuk)





17 Atlas Sound-Logos (Kranky)





18 Japandroids-Post-Nothing (Unfamilar/Polyvinyl)





19 Bill Callahan-Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (Drag City)





20 King Khan and the BBQ show-Invisible Girl (In The Red)





21 Woods-Songs of Shame (Shrimper/Woodsist)





22 Fontan-Winterhwila (Information)





23 Air-Love 2 (Astralwerks)





24 Richard Hawley-Truelove's Gutter (Mute)





25 Bowerbirds- Upper Air (Dead Oceans)





26 Girls-Album (True Panther/Matador)





27 Tortoise-Beacons of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey)





28 Sunn O)))-Monoliths & Dimensions (Southern Lord)





29 Noah and the Whale-The First Days  of Spring (Cherry Tree)





30 Dodos-Time to Die (Frenchkiss)





31 Mountain Goats-The Life of the   World to Come (4AD)





32 Lindstrom & Prins Thomas-II (Eskimo)





33 Mindy Smith-Stupid Love (Vanguard)





34 Shugo Tokamaru-Rum Hee (Blues Interactions, Inc)





35 The Gossip-Music for Men (Columbia)





36 Grizzly Bear Veckatimest (Warp)





37 A.C. Newman-Get Guilty (Matador)





38 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland)





39 Fever Ray-Fever Ray (Mute)





40 Arctic Monkeys-Humbug (Domino)


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