9. Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand (2004): While some albums drag, especially towards the end, this one checks in at a scant and rollicking 38 minutes. Right from the catchy "Jacqueline" to the final " '40," you don't have much time to breathe. There are no acoustic ballads or filler tracks to calm things down. These Scots start off running and they don't stop. "Take Me Out" is the masterpiece, but it's not the only notable track. "This Fire" sticks to your brain and "Darts of Pleasure" does the same, the latter containing the album's best lyrics. "You can feel my lips undress your eyes" and "Words of love and words so leisured / Words of poisoned darts of pleasure." These guys came out of nowhere - for me anyway - and I haven't heard much from them since, but at least they left us with this memorable record.
Best songs: Take Me Out, Darts of Pleasure, This Fire, Jacqueline
8. By The Way: Red Hot Chili Peppers (2002): The Peppers eschewed their usual funk stylings with their most pop-friendly, accessible album. The title track gets the adrenaline started but mellow, sad songs mark this album, from "I Could Die For You" to "Tear." They definitely throw in some rockers, like "On Mercury" and my favorite, "Can't Stop." They toss the entire playbook in this one, which sets By the Way apart from much of their work. It's emotional, subdued and some of the songs are downright beautiful. No "Suck My Kiss" or "Give It Away" here.