Block Party playing Silent Alarm

The 13 best ’00s alternative rock albums you need to know!

The ’00s had some of the best alternative albums out of all decades. This is down to the diversification of the genre, the mainstream appeal of indie rock bands such as Arctic Monkey, and the move to take alternative rock back to its roots with garage rock bands like The White Stripes. 

This all accumulated in some artists making some incredible albums throughout the noughties. Let’s take a look through the decade as I outline my picks for the best alternative album from the 00s…

The list

1. "White Blood Cells" - The White Stripes (2001)

White Blood Cells Album Cover - One of the best '00s alternative rock albums
White Blood Cells Album Cover

“White Blood Cells” may be the third album by the American rock duo The White Stripes, however, it is the band at their peak. This album is not just a pivotal moment in the band’s career, but also the garage rock revival of the early 2000s.

The White Stripes embraced a minimalist approach to their music with this album. They relied primarily on guitar and drums, which meant that the band only had the basics at their disposal. “White Blood Cells” exemplified the signature raw, garage rock sound. 

This album’s influence can still be seen in the resurgence of garage and lo-fi rock bands. I believe it takes the number one spot as it proved that a stripped-down approach could be just as compelling and powerful as more elaborate acts. 

While the record may not have had amazing success initially, but tracks like “Fell in Love with a Girl” would introduce the band to the mainstream. They would eventually blow up with the release of the album “Elephant”.

2. "Kid A" - Radiohead (2000)

"Kid A" album cover
"Kid A" album cover

“Kid A” is easily one of the best albums of the ’00s inside and outside of alternative rock. My struggle with picking this spot was just which Radiohead album would I pick. Radiohead during the late ’90s and ’00s were a different beast, putting out experimental albums one after another, and they somehow all carved their place. 

The fourth studio album by the English rock band Radiohead represented a profound departure from the band’s earlier guitar-driven sound. As mentioned before it marked a significant shift in their musical direction. 

“Kid A” is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative albums of the ’00s. It challenged the conventions of alternative rock by embracing electronic, experimental, and ambient elements. The album’s complex, layered compositions, and thought-provoking lyrics set a new standard for artistic exploration within alternative rock, and is still a major influence on the genre to this day!

Read why this song made the top of Pitchfork’s best albums of the ’00s.

3. "Silent Alarm" - Bloc Party (2005)

"Silent Alarm" album cover
"Silent Alarm" album cover

“Silent Alarm” is the debut album by the British indie rock band Bloc Party. Talk about starting with a bang! The album marked a dynamic and energetic entry into the indie rock scene and played a pivotal role in the mid-2000s post-punk revival.

This album quickly gained Bloc Party recognition for their energetic and innovative approach to indie rock. “Silent Alarm” showcased a blend of post-punk and indie rock, featuring catchy hooks, intricate guitar work, and Kele Okereke’s socially conscious and self-aware lyrics. In parts, it is very reminiscent of the US garage rock scene. 

It reached the top 5 in the UK Albums Chart and included hit singles like “Banquet” and “Helicopter,” which contributed to the album’s popularity. (Read my list of best Bloc Party songs here.) The album’s combination of infectious melodies and thought-provoking lyrics made it a standout.

I do have to say this album did nearly steal the top spot, showing how close the top of this list is!

4. "Songs for the Deaf" - Queens of the Stone Age (2002)

"Songs for the Deaf" album cover
"Songs for the Deaf" album cover

“Songs for the Deaf” is a landmark in modern rock music. A mix of heavy, desert rock, and alternative rock elements, and incorporating influences from punk, metal, and psychedelia, the album is an absolute testament to the compositions of QOTSA.

This album is widely known for its concept-driven approach and collaboration with various musicians. I mean it features Dave Grohl on the drums, does it get any better than that? Riff-driven rock backed with solid drums and astonishing vocals, again it was another that was considered for the top spot. 

“Songs for the Deaf” received critical acclaim and achieved commercial success. It reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified gold in the United States. This was definitely helped by killer tracks like “No One Knows” and “Go with the Flow.”

5. "The Black Parade" - My Chemical Romance (2006)

"The Black Parade" album cover
"The Black Parade" album cover

Now for the album that defined a full generation of teenagers. Well it didn’t just influence a music genre, it was practically a lifestyle-altering experience. “The Black Parade” was composed with the idea of being a rock opera, with its anthemic climax also being one of the most iconic songs of the ’00s.  All you need is that one note. 

The album is a fusion of various alternative rock subgenres, including punk, post-hardcore, and emo, and incorporates elements of theatricality. Its influence can be observed in the resurgence of concept albums in the alternative and emo scenes.

“The Black Parade” received critical acclaim and expanded My Chemical Romance’s commercial success. It reached the number two spot on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum in the United States and the United Kingdom.

6. "Whatever people say I am that's what I am not" - Arctic Monkeys (2006)

"Whatever People Say I am That's what I'm Not" Album Cover
"Whatever People Say I am That's what I'm Not" Album Cover

Another British artist’s debut album getting onto the list, what were these bands on? This album was the album that signalled the peak of UK indie. Am I saying it is the most musically complete, no, but was it the most commercially successful, without a doubt!

The Arctic Monkeys’ debut album captured the spirit of British youth culture and urban life. It’s known for its sharp, observational lyrics, catchy guitar riffs, and the distinct, Sheffield-accented vocals of frontman Alex Turner. “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” played a crucial role in revitalizing indie rock, and did so by telling relatable stories earthed in realism. 

Singles like “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” and “When the Sun Goes Down” received substantial airplay and catapulted the band to astonishing heights, and set them up to be one of the most successful indie bands of all time. Yeah, it’s a pretty good album. 

7. "Funeral" - Arcade Fire (2004)

"The Funeral" album cover
"The Funeral" album cover

“Funeral” may be one of the more emotionally sensitive albums on this list. It does this by tackling themes related to loss, youth, and suburban life. The impressive thing about this album is its revitalised approach to indie rock genre. “Funeral” emphasised a grandiose, yet intimate, style of songwriting.

The album was created in the midst of personal tragedies and benefited from deep emotional backing. The album’s emotional intensity resonated with many. This all formed a dedicated fanbase, and it laid the foundation for Arcade Fire’s future success.

While it didn’t achieve immediate chart-topping success, “Funeral” received critical acclaim and established Arcade Fire as a respected underground indie act

8. "Turn On The Bright Lights" - Interpol (2002)

"Turn On The Bright Lights" album cover
"Turn On The Bright Lights" album cover

“Turn on the Bright Lights” is Interpol’s debut album. Blending dark, atmospheric soundscapes with melancholic yet poetic lyrics, and Paul Banks’ distinctive baritone vocals. It evokes a sense of urban isolation and existential contemplation.

Masterfully crafted the album outlines a mood from the offset. This is why the album belongs on the list of the best alternative rock albums of the ’00s. Their ability to create a mood with their music has had a profound influence on future alternative rock bands.

Continuing on, yeah it didn’t achieve massive mainstream recognition, but it established Interpol as a notable band and set the stage for their future releases. Their follow-up album “Antics” would go on to have just as much success. 

9. "xx" - The XX (2009)

"xx" album cover
"xx" album cover

Just squeaking into the noughties, The xx’s debut album would be the epitome of mixing indie with electronic elements. “xx” is celebrated for its sparse, yet deeply emotional soundscapes. Delicate vocals are backed with subtle guitar playing and simplistic electronic elements, and they create a wholly unique tone. 

“xx” essentially shaped the indie pop blueprint, inspiring a tonne of artists to embrace minimalism. Indie rock after this point often followed the mantra of less is more. This record helped establish The xx as a prominent act in the indie and electronic pop scenes.

The album would garner incredible recognition and a tonne of praise. Singles like “Crystalised” and “VCR” received significant attention, while “Intro” would see play as a backing track for rappers. This would accumulate into a Mercury Prize win in 2010. So, yeah it deserves a spot on this list. 

10. "Hot Fuss" - The Killers (2004)

"Hot Fuss" album cover

“Hot Fuss” is probably the most commercially successful album on the list. This album is so successful that when “Mr Brightside” comes on at a party your Grandma even gets up to dance to it. How did it get this successful though?

Well, “Hot Fuss” has an energetic and danceable sound, the all-important catchy melodies, memorable choruses, and Brandon Flowers’ distinctive vocals. Everything in this album is crafted with pop music melodies in mind, which makes it very consumable for a wide amount of listeners. 

I think this album is one that you may be thinking, it’s not quite alternative. To this, I say The Killers display a unique blend of post-punk, new wave, and alternative rock, making it a staple of naughties alternative music.

11. "Puzzle"- Biffy Clyro (2007)

"Puzzle" album cover
"Puzzle" album cover

So this album is the inclusion that is swung the most on personal taste, as I think it is a tremendous album. This isn’t me saying that it doesn’t belong here, but I definitely hold it in higher esteem than others. Anyway…

“Puzzle” is an important album, especially for Biffy as it sees them move away from their earlier post-hardcore and math rock influences to a more melodic alternative rock style.  Emotions are on full display here with songs such as “Machines” and “Folding Stars”. Both of these tracks show a more sensitive and collective approach to Biffy’s songwriting. 

“Puzzle” was well-received critically, and it performed well enough to establish Biffy as a titan within the UK alternative scene. This album is a testament to Biffy Clyro’s versatility and their ability to evolve and adapt to other influences. 

12. "Inside in/Inside out" - The Kooks

"Inside In/Inside Out" album cover
"Inside In/Inside Out" album cover

The Kooks released “Inside In/Inside out” in 2006. This alongside Arctic Monkeys debut kinda makes this year the peak of UK indie. Known for its infectious and melodic sound, this record draws inspiration from classic rock and pop.

Gaining the band mainstream success almost overnight singles “Naïve” and “She Moves in Her Own Way” broke into the UK charts. The Kooks only really resonated in the UK as their British indie tone didn’t translate as well as some of their contemporaries.

“Inside In/Inside Out” not only introduced The Kooks as a prominent indie rock band but also left a lasting influence on the indie rock. I think this album get better with age too. In conclusion, it is a testament of the band’s songwriting.

13. "Fever To Tell" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003)

"Fever To Tell" album cover
"Fever To Tell" album cover

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs introduction to the world is rough, edgy, but it is bold. They don’t scare away from being exactly the band they were at the time. A breath of fresh air in the indie and alternative scene, “Fever to Tell” is celebrated for its edgy and uncompromising style.

The album’s fierce and gritty sound was unrelenting, with Karen O’s personality taking centre stage. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ fearless approach to music and fashion helped redefine the role of women in rock, and helped raise their presence for budding women rockers.

“Fever to Tell” is not only a defining album in Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ career but also an influential release in the indie rock and garage rock movements. A true beast of an album, which foreshadowed the band’s future refined and dance centred tone. 

In Conclusion

As you can see, the ’00s was a great decade for alternative rock albums. From Radiohead’s genre-defying “Kid A,” to “The Black Parade” with its theatrical and high-octane anthems, there are an abundance of records you need to listen to. 

All of these albums from the 2000s are a testament to the era’s diversity and its knack to experiment. Alternative rock in this era covered a wide base, influencing greatly the expansion that would come. In some ways these albums are the foundations for a lot of modern alternative rock bands. 

Enjoyed this read out article on the best alternative songs of the 1990s


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