The best British debut albums of the 2000s
20 October 2020, 06:00
As the 20th Century gave way to the 21st, British music went through an amazing period. From Arctic Monkeys to Bloc Party, here are Radio X’s picks of the Noughties.
Foals - Antidotes
Foals' debut was an indie rock was a critical and commercial success, peaking at number three in the UK album chart. The record - which was released on 8 April, and included the singles Cassius, Red Socks Pugie, Olympic Airways and Balloons, proved that the Oxford band - were bringing something different to the table.
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
As the decade turned, guitar music got back to basics after the dark posturing of The Strokes and their ilk, and Alex Turner was the man to take indie rock back to the streets. 13 tracks of everyday Northern life set to irresistible singalong melodies. Key track: A Certain Romance.
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Remember the post-punk revival of the early 00s? Bloc Party’s debut was the epitome of the genre: skittish guitars, danceable rhythms and an emotional core that dug deep. Key track: Helicopter, of course.
Coldplay - Parachutes
The post-Britpop era was a grim time, with some adventurous bands falling flat and some old favourites making good (The Verve, for one). It was Chris Martin that opened the 21st Century with an album of open honesty and emotion. They were all primed for superstardom. Key track: Don’t Panic.
The Streets - Original Pirate Material
British rap was still an oddity even as late as 2002, but Mike Skinner nailed the genre with this peerless take on the UK garage scene. It’s basically the London version of Whatever People Say I Am. Key track: Has It Come To This?
The Libertines - Up The Bracket
When the cool kids were looking to New York for their thrills, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat created their own unique sound: the sound of Albion, Old England, street poetry and a title nicked from 50s comic Tony Hancock. Key track: Time For Heroes.
The xx - XX
About as lo-fi as you can get, The xx’s debut created a fascinating sound world, hinged around the voices of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim and the beats of Jamie Smith. Key track: VCR
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
Another of the British post-punk revival bands, Franz’s hit Take Me Out enjoyed that tricky time-signature change and a dancefloor beat, but there was more to them than Gang Of Four impersonations. Key track: The Dark Of The Matinee.
Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
Having aimed for the big time as Parva, it seemed like the last chance for Ricky Wilson and his mates, but their debut album was packed full of amazing, sardonic indie hits, with wry lyrics and anthemic choruses. Key track: Oh My God.
Editors - The Back Room
Dark, compelling guitar rock led by the mournful baritone of Tom Smith and the scything guitar of Chris Urbanowicz. Key track: Munich.
Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner
Londoner Dylan Mills released an assured debut in 2003, forging the path for other British grime acts to cut through to the mainstream and nailing what it's like to be young in the 21st Century. The album won the Mercury Prize that year and made him an international star.
The Courteeners - St Jude
Liam Fray, the Bard Of Middleton, set out his stall with this debut, featuring Cavorting, What Took You So Long and the key track Not Nineteen Forever.
Jamie T - Panic Prevention
Mr Treays got a Mercury nomination for this slice of everyday South London life with a selection of cutting lyrics on modern “yoof” culture. Key track: Sheila
The Maccabees - Colour It In
The London band caused much regret when they packed it in during the summer of 2017 and this is debut shows why. The charming love songs, the inspirational lyrics and the quirky arrangements, they were much-loved. Key track: Latchmere.
Florence And Machine - Lungs
From an art rock collective to a Glastonbury bill-topping outfit, Florence Welch and her team made the transition with aplomb. The debut is knowingly delicate and showcases Flo’s distinctive voice and the band’s unique instrumentation. Key moment: Dog Days Are Over