Top albums of the decade, you ask? Let’s get right to it.
1. Danger Days
2. Common Courtesy
4. The Greatest Generation
5. Peripheral Vision
6. The Finer Things
7. As You Please
8. Everybody is Going to Heaven
11. The Flood
12. I am Alive in Everything I Touch
16. No Closer to Heaven
17. Stage Four
18. Chemical Miracle
19. What Separates Me from You
20. The Front Bottoms
24. Hesitant Alien
25. Pure Heroine
25. Pure Heroine (2013)-Lorde
I finally listened to Pure Heroine for the first time in 2019, not realizing that Lorde was only 16 when she wrote her first studio album back in 2013. Pure Heroine sounds as though it comes from the mind of a poet in their mid-20s, facing the uncertainties of their future, which goes to show that Lorde was delivering an album ahead of her time. Although it sits within the pop genre, it becomes an anti corporate pop anthem. Much of the album is moodier than a normal pop album and more profound as well. As heard in “Team,” Lorde comments on the complex emotions we all start to feel as we come of age that nobody will acknowledge, “I’m kind of over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air, so there. I’m kind of older than I was when I reveled without a care, so there.” In a world where most pop songs are upbeat, revelling in youth culture, Lorde concedes that we are growing old and are tired of shallow chart toppers, and she’s right, making Pure Heroine unparalleled in the pop genre of the 2010s.
24.Hesitant Alien (2014)-Gerard Way
The first time I listened to this album, I was not a fan, mostly because I was still bitter about MCR’s breakup and hadn’t expanded my musical tastes yet. However, a few years later, I gave it another listen and realized it was great for what it was, a glam/brit/pop album, exactly what Gerard Way has always wanted to create. Way has always been vocal about his glam rock influences like David Bowie and Iggy Pop, and Hesitant Alien is reflective of that. Now that MCR has reunited, we may not see another solo album from Way for a long time, but we can expect that what he has learned and accomplished with Hesitant Alien will transfer over to the next MCR album.
23. colourmeinkindness (2012)-Basement
Before the release of their second album, colourmeinkindness, Basement announced that they would be going on an indefinite hiatus for personal reasons, creating a fitting, melancholy aura surrounding the album that rightfully places it as a grunge album. Thankfully, Basement reunited in 2014, but to those who first heard this album in 2012, this was a final goodbye. colourmeinkindness’ raw, emotional edge sets this album apart from others in the indie/grunge/punk/emo scene. Those who say that grunge died in the 90s, clearly haven’t been following the genre long enough to realize emerging talents, such as Basement.
22. From the Fires (2017), Anthem of the Peaceful Army (2018)-Greta Van Fleet
Technically From the Fires is an EP, and my list composes of full-length albums, but it was just too good to not include alongside its successor, Anthem of the Peaceful Army. Say what you will about Greta Van Fleet, but their work feels natural and stands out against a crowd of overproduced radio rock. These two albums revel in nostalgia, and have been unfairly criticized, due to their similarity to Led Zeppelin (let’s be honest, Led Zeppelin was a cover band of their own). Greta Van Fleet brought a familiar sound back to the 2010s reminiscent of many classic rock bands of the 1970s and although their sound is not new, it is much different than what gets radio play today and becomes a welcomed change. While the band still has a lot of growth ahead of them, mostly establishing themselves away from the “Led Zeppelin cover band” image, both From the Fires and Anthem of the Peaceful Army are great listens for any rock fan.
21. Disobedient (2015)-Stick to Your Guns
From acerbic lyrics to heavy breakdowns, Disobedient makes a strong impression for first time listeners of Stick to Your Guns, such as myself. Although there are apparent political messages behind the album, much of the lyrics are relatable on a personal level, which is what makes Disobedient much more enjoyable for a larger audience and a strong contender for the best albums of the decade.
20. The Front Bottoms (2011)-The Front Bottoms
I was a strong opponent of The Front Bottoms for much of my teenage years. At first, they were just one of those weird bands that my brother listened to and I couldn’t grasp why. But, after witnessing them perform “The Beers” live, I realized how interesting and unique their sound really was. With what is arguably their best album, The Front Bottoms polished up their sound with their self-titled album. Each song tells a story, some more endearing than others, and explores the complicated emotions we face with each trial in our lives. Although some of the tracks are more forgettable, it’s stand-outs like, “Swimming Pool” and “Flashlight” that save the album and make their self-titled worth listening to.
19. What Separates Me from You (2010)- A Day to Remember
Although What Separates Me from You is not ADTR’s strongest album overall, it still boasts multiple hits. From the more popular, “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” to the underrated tracks like “If I leave,” ADTR’s, What Separates Me from You has a lot to offer. While the heavier tracks aren’t as memorable as earlier work, it’s the more upbeat songs that give the album life. Homesick was a tough album to follow, but What Separates Me from You is enjoyable and was able to tide us over until ADTR was able to shed ties with their record label and give us a grand rebirth with their next album, Common Courtesy.
18. Chemical Miracle (2016)-Trophy Eyes
Trophy Eyes’, Chemical Miracle, is infectious from beginning to end. The album demonstrates their diversity with tracks ranging from slow and dreamy, like “Heaven Sent,” to fast and edgy like “Rain on Me.” Trophy Eyes creates an album that is poetic, yet gritty. One listen through this record and it feels as though you have cleansed your soul. Just like the closing song title, Daydreamer, Chemical Miracle is like a daydream, reflecting upon your own insecurities and relieving yourself of them. The meditative and impactful Chemical Miracle leads us to believe that Trophy Eyes is destined for greatness and will prove themselves as the artists they are.
17. Stage Four (2016)-Touche Amore
In 2014, lead vocalist, Jeremy Bolm’s mother died from cancer. Two years later, Touche Amore released Stage Four, a harrowing epitaph of Bolm’s tragic experience up until her death. For those who aren’t big into hardcore music, this album needs a second listen to appreciate it. Bolm’s vocals are jagged and aggressive, something that may turn listeners away, but the lyrics bring you back for multiple listens and the gritty screams in his voice become a necessity to the raw emotional edge behind them.Bolm does not hold back on his grief and the lyrics feel like a punch in the gut, exposing his emotional decay and weakness from his mother’s death. Stage Four is heartbreaking but worth listening to. Touche Amore makes you feel the loss unlike any album I have ever listened to.Touche Amore delivers a tragic sound in Stage Four that demands to be heard.
16. No Closer to Heaven (2015)-The Wonder Years
From their cult classic, The Upsides to the popular, The Greatest Generation, The Wonder Years has established themselves as the godfathers of pop punk. Each album, while morose in theme, was optimistic, exploring the band’s maturation through their 20s and the emotional distress of growing old in an unkind world. No Closer to Heaven represents a change in tone and life cycle for The Wonder Years. The band is no longer the youthful musicians scared of their future, they are concerned with others around them and the fate of the world they live in. Tackling issues of morality, violence and mortality, each song on No Closer to Heaven is impactful and bolder than before. While the album is a much softer version of the band, especially in comparison to an album like Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, it is just as monumental in sound as their previous work. No Closer to Heaven began a new chapter for The Wonder Years, one of maturity and wisdom that fans look forward to and show that The Wonder Years is more than a pop-punk band.
15. Hebrews (2014)-Say Anything
By 2014, the mastermind behind Say Anything, Max Bemis, was approaching his 30s and was in an entirely new chapter in his life. Now, a husband and father, Bemis no longer wished to write about scorned lovers and the future he didn’t believe was there. Instead, we get to share in Bemis’ experiences as a new father and his expectations of the man he will become. Hebrews reveals that everything has changed for Bemis, and not just with his new family. Bemis comments on his own upbringing and how that will affect him as a father, his fanbase and their expectations of his music, his own self-doubt and his religious beliefs. Hebrews is different than any Say Anything album before, thematically and musically. Despite the lack of guitars and radical change in sound, Hebrews is wonderfully produced and became a great addition to Say Anything’s discography.
14. California (2016)-Blink-182
California marked a new beginning for Blink-182. With the absence of original member, Tom Delonge and introduction of Alkaline Trio’s, Matt Skiba, fans were skeptical as to what Blink could do with the next album, and the band had a lot to prove. Despite criticism of changing members, California *is* a Blink-182 album. The band digs deep into their roots in pop-punk and crafts an album worthy of our attention. Songs like “Bored to Death” and “She’s Out of Her Mind” are the fun, pop-punk jams we have grown to love from Blink, but the band doesn’t rely on Mark Hoppus’ upbeat melodies to carry the album. Tracks such as “Los Angeles” and “Left Alone” take advantage of Skiba’s slightly raucous vocals and give the album much more depth. Blink doesn’t stray too far from the skate-punk they’re known for though. The band gives us a good laugh with “Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody,” reminiscent of their beloved fatuous tracks. Overall, California proved that Blink-182 was still the band we know and love and solidified Matt Skiba’s place as a member.
13. Separation (2011)-Balance and Composure
For Balance and Composure’s first full length album, Separation doesn’t sound like it’s their first studio album. The maturation in sound is evident and surprising, especially from a band whose primary experience comes from years of EPs. Despite the despondent tone and heavier instrumentation, Separation is a smooth and melodic listen. Each song flows well into the next, creating a cathartic listening experience that makes Separation such a powerful album.
12. I am Alive in Everything I Touch (2015)-Silverstein
In comparison to their beginnings in the 2000s emo subculture, I am Alive in Everything I Touch demonstrates Silverstein’s ability to expand their sound far past aggressive vocals. I was hooked on this album on my first listen, I felt a connection to the songs, like I had known them all my life. Silverstein set out to create a concept album, reflecting upon their journey as a band and becoming who they are now. First time listeners and long-time fans feel as though they took that journey with them and become more immersed into the record. Silverstein sought out to share a piece of who they are with their listeners and they prove to be successful with, I am Alive in Everything I Touch.
11. The Flood (2012)-Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men had always found itself grouped with the likes of Hot Topic scene bands like, Sleeping with Sirens or Asking Alexandria, but The Flood proves that they are much greater than that. From epic breakdowns from songs, “Ben Threw” and “O.G. Loko” (RIP Warped Tour version), to more welcoming vocals mixed within, The Flood was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale and overproduced metalcore scene. Of Mice and Men delivered an album consistent of exceptional songs that any metal, punk, or rock fan would enjoy and established themselves as more than another metalcore scene band.
10. Endgame (2011)-Rise Against
Rise Against has always been known to share their political views in their music, but Endgame takes it a step further and questions what future we could possibly have under an oppressive government. This album is much more obvious in sharing how Rise Against truly feels about war, tyranny and the maltreatment of exploited citizens around the world. No matter what your political leanings are, Endgame is well crafted with moving lyrics and strong backing instrumentation that could start a revolution. Rise Against encourages listeners to take a stand for what you believe in and by the end of Endgame, we all feel inspired to do so.
9. Disgusting (2014)-Beartooth
Beartooth’s debut album comes directly from the mind of Caleb Shomo. Not only is Shomo the lead vocalist, but he also played every instrument and produced the record himself. His dedication to the record is impressive and it shows in every song on the album. Even for those who are not into hardcore, the heavy breakdowns are well balanced with inspirational lyrics that will attract any rock listener. Caleb Shomo put his soul into Disgusting, sharing himself at his most vulnerable so that he may reach out to anybody who has ever felt the same depression as he has. The raw, emotional depth of Disgusting makes it a stand out record in the metalcore scene of the 2010s.
8.Everybody is Going to Heaven (2015)-Citizen
Instead of riding the success of their debut album, Youth, Citizen tweaks their sound and delivers an album that sounds like it came straight from the 90s grunge scene. Everybody is Going to Heaven is, without a doubt, Citizen’s most underrated album. It’s much grittier and darker than the pop-punk style that they had been known for and I applaud them for their transformation. What I’ve always loved about Citizen is their versatility, they can make every album sound much different than one another, and yet it is still Citizen. Everybody is Going to Heaven is an album that needs a second listen to truly appreciate it, especially if you expect it to sound anything like Youth. The heavier tracks like, “My Favorite Color” and “Numb Yourself” pair well with more relaxed songs like “Yellow Love” and “Ring of Chain,” creating an ethereal listen throughout the entire album. Despite what critics may say, Citizen followed their musical instincts and evolved their sound, which is more than what can be said for fellow pop-punk cohorts of the 2010s.
7. As You Please (2017)-Citizen
Citizen’s latest release also makes the top of my list for a multitude of reasons. As You Please brings a slight change in the band’s sound, especially coming from the heavier, Everybody is Going to Heaven. The record is much more polished than its predecessors, but still entails the same melancholy that Citizen is known for. The pulsing opening track, “Jet” starts off the album strong, leading us to a set of awe inspiring songs to follow. Although most of the songs sit within the “emo” genre, there are a few that lighten the mood and make the record much more diverse. “In the Middle of it All” may just be one of the greatest songs that Citizen has recorded, and also one of the most lighthearted in sound. As You Please is much more distinctive as a whole in the bands discography and represents their growth as musicians.
6. The Finer Things (2013)-State Champs
When State Champs came out with their debut album, The Finer Things, I was blown away. The energy emanating from this album makes you feel as though you are front row at one of their shows. From “Elevated” to “Easy Enough,” there isn’t a dull moment on this album. Each track flows right into the next with the same intensity as its predecessor without sounding like carbon copies. The Finer Things delivered a spark that many of their pop-punk influences were lacking that made you feel alive. Although the band’s discography following this album has not been strong, The Finer Things will go on to be remembered as one of the greatest pop-punk albums of the 2010s, and maybe even of all time.
5. Peripheral Vision (2015)-Turnover
The delicate, yet impactful, Peripheral Vision is a beautifully crafted album that takes us through the emotionally draining stages of a breakup. Normally, I don’t listen to much from the indie genre, but Peripheral Vision is an album that can relate to any music lover looking for an easy listen. There is a sense of nostalgia that the listener feels connected to despite not actually being present in those moments that lead singer, Austin Getz, shares. Turnover’s romanticization of heartbreak is done tastefully, and forces the listener to take an introspective look at our own failures and shortcomings while coming to terms with an understanding that sometimes things are meant to stay behind you. Peripheral Vision is a love letter to the past that we all feel was written specifically for ourselves, demonstrating Turnover’s ability to create a sense of intimacy that cannot be found in most albums.
4. The Greatest Generation (2013)-The Wonder Years
The Greatest Generation wallows in the same self-doubt that most of us face in our young adult lives, which is why it has become a staple in the pop-punk scene. Listeners are drawn in by the catchy choruses and rhythmic beat of each track, but it’s the themes of the album that have the largest impact. The Wonder Years mourns for their youth and agonizes over an uncertain future, something that many of us relate to in our 20s. Even if you can’t empathize with the downtrodden youth, the anthemic style of each track will still grab you. Standout tracks such as “Passing Through a Screen Door” and “The Devil in my Bloodstream,” differ greatly from one another, yet feel cohesive to what The Wonder Years has created with The Greatest Generation. This coming of age record established The Wonder Years as the kings of pop-punk and as the talented musicians that they are.
3. Youth (2013)-Citizen
Yes, I do have all three of Citizen’s studio albums in my top ten, but for good reason. I believe that Citizen is one of the best bands to come out of the 2010s, and they have three solid albums to prove it. Although I placed Youth above their successors, Citizen continues to grow as artists and create outstanding new music. However, there is a certain quality to Youth that makes it stronger than Everybody is Going to Heaven and As You Please. Youth is vehement and Citizen does not hold back on describing their despondent emotional state. Lyrics like, “I should have crashed the car, when I was all alone” and “I would love to feel alive again, but I’m not used to change” are heart wrenching, yet necessary. Citizen’s dramatic debut album, Youth, is stirring and shows their passion for their music, making it one of the best records of the decade.
2. Common Courtesy (2013) -A Day to Remember
When A Day to Remember was finally free from their record label, the band was able to go back to their roots, a pop-punk album filled with catchy riffs, massive breakdowns and plenty of homages to their hometown. Although Common Courtesy follows the typical ADTR formula, the passion put into creating the record is more evident than in their previous album, What Separates Me from You. What makes this album so strong is the balance from explosive tracks like “Right Back at it Again” and “Violence (Enough is Enough),” to the moodier, “Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail” and “Dead & Buried” and the softer, “I’m Already Gone” and “I Remember.” ADTR’s ability to have these songs work so well together on the same album makes Common Courtesy one of their strongest. And while Homesick is commonly, and rightfully, placed as A Day to Remember’s greatest album, it’s clear that Common Courtesy sits right up there next to it.
1. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2010)-My Chemical Romance
I was 13, home from school and ready to hear the album I had been counting down to for months. I popped Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys into my cd player and sat there, listening to each song intently, and I was not disappointed. It’s not surprising that an MCR album would top my list, and it’s not just because I’m a super fan. Danger Days showed us a whole new side to the band and demonstrated their versatility as artists. My Chemical Romance decided to scale back on the theatrics and sombreness from The Black Parade after years of their grueling touring schedule, and instead focused on finding their happiness with their exuberant new album. While fans were initially critical of the new direction, Danger Days is still what you would expect from MCR. Although it isn’t as dark of an album, the songs are beautifully written and still incorporate the punk sound that they originated from with I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. MCR didn’t give us a regurgitated version of their hit album, like many artists do, instead they created an album that was fresh and new. While the singles were attention grabbing, especially “Na Na Na”, it was songs like “DESTROYA”, and “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” that really stood out. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is still just as impactful as it was the day I first heard it and remains the best album of the decade.
Thanks for checking out Unbowed! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to stay up-to-date with our latest content. Subscribe at the bottom of the page (mobile) or on the right sidebar (desktop) for quick access to our content!