1. No Doubt, Return of Saturn (Interscope)
Who would have thought that songs about the desire for marriage and family could be so exciting? With equal parts vulnerability and attitude, No Doubt's Return of Saturn is fresh and thrilling. Their blend of ska, new wave, and pop (in the best sense of the term) combined with Gwen Stefani's tough yet exposing lyrics creates the year 2000's most fascinating and fun album.
2. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (Interscope)
Bringing together the sensitive introspection of The Joshua Tree, the dark elegance of Achtung Baby, and the electronic experimentation of Pop, All That You Can't Leave Behind sounds like the album U2 has spent their entire careers trying to create. While they've been playing music together longer than most of today's pop stars have been alive, U2 has proven they are still as adventurous and relevant as they were when they first formed.
3. Belle and Sebastian, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (Matador/Jeepster)
While departing from their stories of delicate teenage sorrows without abandoning it, Belle and Sebastian grows up a bit on Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant. Still dedicated to exploring the lives of innocent misfits, Belle and Sebastian brings more experimentation and fun to their gently melancholy music. Despite that it is not their best release, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant nevertheless marks Belle and Sebastian as one of the more interesting bands making music today.
4. BT, Movement in Still Life (Nettwerk)
BT should've been this year's Moby. With his delightful transcendental party electronica, BT's Movement in Still Life brings a renewing sense of joy to the genre. Both beautiful and lighthearted, BT's sparkling confidence shines through in every moment. You don't need to listen for very long to know that, despite still being relatively unknown in the US, BT is a star.
5. Mary Timony, Mountains (Matador)
With its gothic novel imagery and her passionate voice, Mary Timony's Mountains is dark without falling into pretentiousness. Timony's simple song structure complimented by her moody lyrics produces an engaging new perspective on everyday heartaches. Despite the eerie quality to her songs, Mountains never feels forced, but instead, strangely honest and graceful.
6. Björk, Selmasongs (Elektra)
One of the most experimental and daring artists of today, Björk's music is always worth hearing. While Selmasongs serves as compliment to the film Dancer in the Dark, it is an amazing collection of songs in its own right. "I've Seen It All", the exquisite duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke is justification enough for Selmasongs to be in the top 10 of 2000 while tracks like "Scatterheart" and the moving "New World" preview what is to come from Björk on her next full length album.
7. Radiohead, Kid A (Capitol)
Although oblique and noisy, Kid A still proves Radiohead's importance in music. Not as revolutionary as OK Computer, Kid A is quieter and less attainable. While the effort it takes to unlock Kid A's secrets may be too much for some, Radiohead's intelligence and fearlessness shines through on every track.
8. Hooverphonic, The Magnificent Tree (Epic/Sony)
Grittier and less dreamy than 1998's Blue Wonder Power Milk, Hooverphonic's The Magnificent Tree reveals the strangeness that lurks beneath the surface of life. With glamorous trip-hop beats and often hallucinatory lyrics, The Magnificent Tree transports listeners into other worlds. After listening to this, you won't want to go home.
9. Olive, Trickle (Maverick)
Soaring club beats and bright vocals counteract the melancholy of Olive's lyrics, adding up to complicated yet airy songs. Trickle's jubilant surface belies its meditative core, and their songs about the basic themes of love and loss rise above the traditional, creating an album that is as complexly intoxicating.
10. Kitty Craft, Catskills (March)
Kitty Craft's blend of folk and electronica is satisfying and unique, and her cheerful self-sufficient attitude is inspiring. Although it is hard to say whether or not Kitty Craft will find an audience, Catskills ushers in a refreshingly new form of pop music. This won't be the last we hear of it.