Inspired by the narrator in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, here's my desert-island, all-time, top five favourite albums. If I'm ever in a music slump, I always go back to these albums.
1. Darklands (1987) - The Jesus and Mary Chain
Darklands was released in 1987, but it still sounds fresh. What's magical about this album is that it works for every mood. It's at once chill and upbeat, brooding yet cheerful, and can wake you up or lull you to sleep. This is an album I can put on and listen to all the way through.
2. Urban Hymns (1997) - The Verve
Urban Hymns is the perfect title for this album of emotionally-rich rock songs sung by a soulful Richard Ashcroft. I never get tired of hearing "Bittersweet Symphony," but there's also spectacular songwriting in "Sonnet," "The Drugs Don't Work," "Space and Time," and "Lucky Man." One of the great Britpop albums.
3. Arular (2005) - MIA
I've always been a huge M.I.A. fan, and when her debut album dropped, it was an exciting time in music. Arular is bold, raw, eclectic, in your face, and FUN. You can enjoy this album on many levels, but at the core, it's a banger of a dance album. M.I.A. deserves more credit for her influence on contemporary music. It's safe to say, though, that Arular is now a classic.
4. Contra (2010) - Vampire Weekend
I had a hard time choosing between this album and Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut. I ultimately chose Contra because it's a little more musically ambitious and sophisticated. If you're wondering who that woman is on the cover, I recently learned there was major copyright drama over the use of that photo.
5. Room on Fire (2003) - The Strokes
The first two Strokes albums became instant classics as soon as they were released. I know Is This It was a decade-defining album, but I simply more listen to Room on Fire. It's hard to beat "12:51," "Meet Me in the Bathroom," and "Under Control." To this day, I can't think of a guy cooler than Julian Casablancas.