The debut album is always a statement of intent. An opening salvo from an artist just starting out and at the height of their creativity.
When done right, like Frank Ocean did last year with our album of the year Channel Orange, it can propel you into the stratosphere and give you a skyscraper of a jumping pad.
To celebrate a whole new musical year filled with bright hopes and exciting new debuts, we’ve gazed into our record collections to find out our favourite debut albums of the last ten years.
Then we had the horrible realisation that there were two many to fit into one list, so here are our first half dozen favourite debuts.
The Killers – Hot Fuss
Over the following eight years and three years later, The Killers still haven’t managed to top their debut.
Full of infectious, feedback smothered throwbacks, Hot Fuss was like the world’s greatest tribute to Duran Duran, only with a whole heap more attitude than Simon Le Bon could ever muster. It’s all back up by a throat shredding vocal throughout that never loses its grip on you.
Above all else, Hot Fuss is just a cracking great time throughout, especially during it’s hit filled opening salvo of songs. It launched Brandon Flowers and co into the stratosphere, going number one in the UK album charts and spending 173 weeks inside the chart before going platinum six times over.
Kanye West – The College Dropout
Kanye West is now one of the biggest names in music, let alone rap, and it was all because he came on to the hip-hop scene with this incredible first album.
This first album saw West step out from the role of producer (where he’d become one of the industries most wanted) and introduce his own style of hip hop. To say it was a revelation could be somewhat of an understatement.
While unrecognisable from his last couple of albums, his opening batch of rhymes had a massive impact in the rap world, moving away from the gangster infused rap that become the genre’s bread and butter and moving into a much more reflexive place that spoke to those outside of the genre too.
With ground-breaking tracks such as Through The Wire and Jesus Walks, The College Dropout stands as not only the best rap debut since the turn of the millennium it stands as the cornerstone that Kanye’s built his empire (and skyscraper sized ego) around.
Artic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
The Sheffield based band tore into the airwaves like a chainsaw with this debut album, Alex James and co not just adding to the growing group of retro inspired indie bands, but utterly dominating them.
It was a massive success when it hit that charts, becoming the fastest selling debut album by a British band and outselling the rest of the top twenty combined. Not bad for a first time effort.
Recapturing the spirit of The Clash at their most chaotic, the album threw The Arctic Monkeys on to the top of the British musical pile and granted them victory in the battle against similarly retro guitar bands The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand.
This is an album of pure aggression, a factor that hasn’t been blunted by either time or exposure.
Electric Six – Fire
One of the single most fun and silly records of the decade, Electric Six’s opening salvo of ridiculous tracks was one of the defining factors of 2004.
There was far much more to Electric Six than ‘Danger, High Voltage’ and ‘Gay Bar’, with Fire being a delightful throwback throughout, full of charmingly kitsch and campy romps.
That their name still evokes fond memories of everyone dancing like idiots to any one of their hyper catchy singles and that the album is still utterly listenable are a testament to the underrated quality of the album.
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
You will have had to have been wearing a pretty massive set of blinkers to have not figured out by now our intense love of Frank Ocean’s brilliant debut.
The ground work had been made with Ocean’s mixtape from the year before, but while that was a rough diamond, this full debut was an utterly mesmerising and immaculately produced record.
Taking RnB, tearing it down and rebuilding it as something beautiful, tender, intense and emotional, Frank Ocean created an album that not only moves him to the front the pack, but completely out of sight of is competition.
We’ve already heaped a whole heap of praise on the album over the last few months though, as we made it our album of the year for 2012.
Bat For Lashes – Fur And Gold
Wonderfully cinematic and personal, this debut not only threw Natasha Khan into the spotlight, but made here an instant critical darling.
Echoing the spirit of Bjork at the very height of her powers, Fur and Gold is an utterly charming album with a distinctly magical quality. Filled with songs that mix both the raw, vulnerable emotion of Khan’s voice with far bigger and mystical elements, Fur and Gold is an eccentric and unique triumph.
That she’s only just escaping the shadow of this juggernaut speaks to the incredible quality of her opening set of songs.
What were you favourite debut albums of the last ten years? Let us know in the comments section and make sure to check back tomorrow to see what our other six choices are.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith