34. Ghostface – Supreme Clientele
In the releases after Fishscale, Ghostface’s beats softened to match the renewed emphasis on sex, and for stupid reasons I was lukewarm towards 2009’s Ghostdini (try “Guest House,” a rom com that ends with Ghost ripping the covers off his girlfriend and the cable guy, “looking like the black Adam and Eve, two sinful lovers”). But I play Supreme Clientele when I want garrulity as dense as the instrumentation on an mid eighties Ornette Coleman track. For a while the most consistent album artist of the early ’00s.
33. Yoko Ono – Walking on Thin Ice
In which an artist and widow shows what imagination and sympathy can do with one’s limits. I almost slotted Approximately Infinite Universe, but I want to keep “Walking on Thin Ice,” “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do,” and “You’re The One.”
32. Duran Duran – Rio
New romances by New Romantics: lurid and ridiculous, with bass lines to match. Rio is a case study in making the lurid and ridiculous entertaining, which means it’s pop. Soreheads who still think they suck should listen to the band handle the tricky chord/rhythm change in “New Religion”; you’ll be rewarded with Le Bon’s Melle Mel impression.
31. Brian Eno and John Cale – Wrong Way Up
“What an artificial album this is! Like a Marianne Moore poem or one of those Swiss cuckoo clocks, you’re aware of the cogs, its self-conscious artistry (if Wrong Way Up were in color, it’d be in pastels). Programmed rhythm beds, organs, violins, scratchy guitars—a song like “Lay My Love” is ideal tinker-toy music.”
30. Garbage – Version 2.0.
The Parallel Lines of the nineties: ugly dudes who play well and produce better hire singer whose voice and lyrics interject more personality than they expected, synthesizing three decades worth of harmonies and chords and allusions and give it a fetching electrosheen. So plastic and evanescent that it deserved automatic placing.