26. Madvillain - Madvillainy (2004)
This is the only album on the list that would be called rap music. And that's because I frankly don't know a lot about rap. However, I know this album is bloody genius. I've heard plenty of rap, underground, mainstream, or somewhere in between and few artists actually grab my attention (I guess that's actually true for any genre), but Madillainy is a very special album. It's a great collaboration between two incredibly talented artists and also has great guest spots. It doesn't rely on choruses or pop song structures to be memorable, rather it sticks in your mind because the lyrics are so clever and interesting and the beats have a style specific to the person who made them. In other words, it's certainly an idiosyncratic album. It's like nothing I've ever heard for this genre. It sticks to its guns through and through and is even cohesive. You practically have to listen to the whole thing to get the picture. The songs just bleed into and relate to each other so well. It's like its own little universe.
27. Matmos - A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure (2001)
Almost any Matmos album from this decade could be on this list, but for me, ACTCIACTC is the one I go back to the most. I like how each song has a distinct identity, but they all fit in the same category of sound. It's an album that has plenty of mood changes, from the serious ("Memento Mori") to the more playful and party-ready ("Spondee"). There is a particular riff at different speeds in two tracks (around 3:00 in "Spondee" and at about 1:43 in "California Rhinoplasty"), which helps tie things together. The album has a consistent noisy-ness to it, despite the different genres it traverses. It's actually quite similar in sound to Mouse On Mars' Varcharz record when I think about it. The tracks don't exactly glide into each other, it's really quite a bumpy road listening to this album. But that's just how Matmos works and I think this album is the closest they've come to creating something homogenous and "album-y".
28. M.I.A. - Kala (2007)
I don't think I listened to this album at all in 2008 since I probably listened to it too much in 2007. And now in '09, evaluating the decade, this album undoubtled deserves a spot on this list. It's too much fun and has so much swagger that you can't ignore it. What kind of boring moron can't appreciate something as cool as Kala? It's a weird mix of samples, you can't quite to decide if it's rap or electronic, you can dance to almost every track and M.I.A. herself is an awesomely over-the-top presence both on record and in photographs (great style!). This album is bold, but grounded. It's fun and crazy, but the subject matter it covers can be pretty serious, getting into global politics and all. Not that you need to be really high-brow to enjoy it, you can just take it on the surface and sing along.
29. Mission Of Burma - OnOffOn (2004)
I happen to own the complete MOB catalogue and this is the album I usually go back to. It's a case where the hits just keep on commin'. One after another there are brilliant songs, all with a distinct identity, but within the same style. It's so hard to pick favorite songs because they are all seriously great. The energy of punk rock is there, but the band can actually play their instruments and write interesting songs. Admittedly, there's a pop sensibility, and sometimes I think these could be Rolling Stones songs, but it's a part of their sound that makes them so good. They are not a "stadium rock" band, nor some scummy gutterpunks, they find a precious middle ground that lends itself to excellence in music. And this album exemplifies that. The Obliterati is equally good, but these songs are just more endeared to me.
30. Mouse On Mars - Radical Connector (2004)
I stumbled across this gem during my radio days. I had heard of Mouse On Mars, but never heard. I was initially uninterested since my tolerance for electro-pop had fizzled, but this album is just too good. MOM are known for their innovations and melding of genres and Radical Connector goes further by bringing in the pop sensibilities. Warped vocals and streamlined song development makes this batch of tunes instantly catchy and easily distinguishable, in addition to their excellent danceability and high energy. Despite the quick appeal, the tracks are still incredibly detailled, with tons of interesting little noises to keep the maniacs satisfied. I always wished that Daft Punk could make an album this good.