Decades
A quarterly report that looks back
on music and film from 10, 20, 30 years ago

Top 50 Albums of 2007

on January 23, 2017, 1:00am
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Dan Deacon Spiderman of the Rings45. Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings

There’s experimental electronics, there’s poppy dance, and then there’s whatever elasticity Dan Deacon discovered on his fourth full-length back in 2007. Hearing Spiderman of the Rings for the first time was like stumbling into the lucid dreams of a cartoon show, complete with slapstick absurdity (“World of Hair”), vocal extremities (“The Crystal Cat”), and goofy vocoder about your dad (“Snake Mistakes”). What allowed Deacon’s LP to stand out from a kid making weird loops in his basement was Deacon’s balance of energetic frenzy with genuinely moving repose. “Big Milk” is strangely peaceful and, like much of the record, still holds up today, but it’s epics like 11-minute “Wham City” that show Deacon meddling with instrumentation, knobs, and strangely human elements that can effect you in a way that’s deeper than a record of bizarre Baltimore electro-art seems capable of. –Nina Corcoran

Last Seen: Prepping for his 2012 album, America, to soundtrack the New York City Ballet stage at the end of this month.

Listen: Spotify

Buy: Amazon

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Lil Wayne Da Drought 344. Lil Wayne – Da Drought 3

With the smoked-out, word-drunk brilliance of Da Drought 3, Lil Wayne managed to be incredibly original while jacking beats from hits that were already distinct. He rapped over some of the era’s classic beats (riding the skying horns of T.I.’s “Top Back”, say, or the chop-up-the-soul Kanye of Cam’ron’s “Down and Out”), though he also traveled back in time to take on ‘90s East Coast classics (Nas’ “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” and Jay Z’s “Dead Presidents”). He revamped many of the original songs by conveying contagious joy; the tape might represent the most fun anyone’s ever had rapping, with hilarious and unpredictable similes and metaphors. It’s all more than enough to keep things interesting all the way through the two-disc, 29-track, 108-minute tape, even as the features are few. Wayne was well on his way to greater fame and further acclaim with 2008’s proper LP, Tha Carter III — an album that resulted in seven nominations and three wins at the 2009 Grammys — but there are plenty who maintain that DD3 remains his greatest work. –Michael Madden

Last Seen: Though the general rap-listening public has been impatiently awaiting Tha Carter V, Wayne hasn’t exactly disappeared from the public eye: Last year, he released ColleGrove (his collaborative album with 2 Chainz) and his prison memoir, Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island.

Listen: YouTube

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Liars Liars43. Liars – Liars

After three albums of varying experimentalism — from dance punk to witch-hunting art rock to electro-acoustic drone — Liars announced a self-titled album, as if to make sure their reintroduction was a friendly one. Liars splices more of the motorik punk sound into the trio’s mix, a haunted noir of shadows and sharp teeth. That darkness had a magnetic pull, all the rhythmic intensity of no wave with the heightened stakes they’d earned on the massive Drum’s Not Dead the previous year. From the Jesus and Mary Chain-echoing “Freak Out” to the full-speed, tooth-gnashing Lost Highway nightmare of “Plaster Casts of Everything”, from slasher terror to existential break, there’s a heavy menace to Liars — though even the bleakest moments have a subtle beauty. It may not be the sublime epic of their previous album, but their self-titled is a sharp thrill that doesn’t lose any of Liars’ depth. –Lior Phillips

Last Seen: Liars most recently returned with 2014’s Mess, a record that dealt with chaos, uncertainty, and complication in a deliriously cathartic, dance-friendly, electronic bump.

Listen: Spotify

Buy: Amazon

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El P I'll Sleep When You're Dead42. El-P – I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

At this point, it’s actually difficult to imagine El-P without the man-mountain that is Killer Mike flanking him on record or stage. Really, that just speaks to the lightning-in-a-bottle partnership the two have forged as Run the Jewels two decades into their respective careers. But with that newfound mass appeal should come fresh faces eager to learn what El was up to before becoming one half of the world’s most popular hip-hop duo. Brimming with dense rhymes, features from across genres, claustrophobic production, and a sense of hard-earned wisdom (“I might have been born yesterday, sir, but I stayed up all night.”), I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead reveals El-P polishing gems long before his Jewels days. –Matt Melis

Last Seen: El-P and Killer Mike dropped their third critically acclaimed collab, Run the Jewels 3, on Christmas Eve.

Buy: Amazon

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Rilo Kiley Under the Blacklight41. Rilo Kiley – Under the Blacklight

Looking back, one might argue Rilo Kiley’s Under the Blacklight could have been titled More Disastrous. What was supposed to be their big major-label debut at Warner Bros. wound up being the curtain call on Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett’s popular indie rock outfit. What’s worse, those who followed them from the beginning felt marginalized by the album’s slick pop sheen and its bevy of eclectic guest musicians, ranging from Jackson Browne to Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald to Maroon 5’s James Valentine and Mickey Madden. But, you know what? Screw the haters. The album was a blast then, and it’s a bigger blast now. More importantly, it was a total precursor to what indie rock would become in the years after. Songs like “Silver Lining”, “Close Call”, “The Moneymaker”, and “Breakin’ Up” could easily be mistaken for something on FM radio today. And to top it off, Sennett went all Lindsey Buckingham on us with “Dreamworld”, and it totally fucking worked. Love this album. –Michael Roffman

Last Seen: In 2014, Lewis confirmed the band had officially broken up, which was right around the time she released her last solo album, The Voyager. Sennett has kept busy with Night Terrors of 1927 alongside pal Jarrod Gorbel. Oh, well.

Listen: Spotify

Buy: Amazon
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