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Brian Wilson's 'Smile,' Spoon get Metacritic's top album, artist scores of the decade

December 15, 2009 |  4:12 pm

Brian Wilson Smile cover

Brian Wilson’s “Smile,” the long-delayed Beach Boys project that he resuscitated and finished in 2004, has come in atop Metacritic.com’s list of the best-reviewed albums of the decade, while Austin, Texas,  indie-rock group Spoon has been named the best-reviewed pop music act.

Metacritic, which assigns numeric scores to reviews from a wide range of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, announced its lists of the artists and albums that received the highest average tallies from 2000 to 2009. Spoon topped the artist rankings because the group released four albums during the decade, all of which were classified as “great,” meaning the band's review scores exceeded 80 points apiece on the site’s 100-point scale.

“Smile” had an average score of 97, the same number given Loretta Lynn’s Jack White-produced album “Van Lear Rose,” which came in at No. 2. Scores were rounded to the nearest whole number for publication, but the actual average for Wilson’s album was a fraction higher than Lynn’s, Metacritic features editor Jason Dietz said.

The site’s reviews are dominated by publications that cover alternative and indie music, which helps explain the dominance of those styles in the Top 10 artist rankings. Behind Spoon, in order, are Sigur Rós, Super Furry Animals, Sleater-Kinney, White Stripes, Animal Collective, Drive-By Truckers, Lightning Bolt and Iron & Wine.

To be eligible, artists had to release at least three albums during the decade, at least two had to score 81 or higher and the average of all the artist’s albums also had to be 81 or above.

The album list reflected a little more stylistic diversity, with Wilson and Lynn’s albums followed by OutKast’s “Stankonia” (95), Ali Farka Touré’s “Savane” (94), Madvillain’s “Madvillainy” (93), Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft” (93), Dizzee Rascal’s “Boy in Da Corner” (92), White Stripes’ “Elephant” (92), the Streets’ “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” (91) and OutKast’s “Speakerboxxx / The Love Below” (91)

“Which albums do we cover?” Dietz asks by way of introduction to the rankings. “Typically, the ones that get reviewed the most by the publications we use, which means a lot of indie and alternative rock, certainly, but also major releases in rap, pop, R&B, rock, electronic and country, among other genres….Our lists and picks are meant to represent the best of what is listed on Metacritic, and are not intended to be all-inclusive of every album released during the decade."

-- Randy Lewis