I particularly rever artists with true staying power. Stereogum's Listomania feature recently came out with an inspired list of 10 Classic Albums Released 10 Years Into A Band/Artist's Career. The original list is here, but it inspired me to think of a few of my own, less obvious but equally noteworthy, inclusions. Alas, scanning quickly through my record collection I've only come up with a further six, so I would be interested in your own suggestions.
Animal Collective - Merryweather Post-Pavilion (2009)
A decade into one of the most unpredictable and genre-defying careers of recent times, Animal Collective finally hit the big time with this gorgeous yet vibrant concoction of ethereal pop. Arguments will rage on as to which AC album is the best (with the exception of Danse Manatee, I'll accept cases for any one of their releases), but there can be little argument that Merriweather Post-Pavilion is their most cohesive and consistent release to date. The world waits in anticipation of what they'll come up with next.
The Flaming Lips - Transmissions From The Satellite Heart (1993)
Transmissions Of A Satellite Heart marked the first unlikely success story for Oklahoma's acid-fried rockers, thanks to the wonderfully goofy single She Don't Use Jelly (the only song which dared to rhyme the word "store" with "orange"). It was indicative of an album with a wealth of deranged yet oddly endearing riches, whilst the uber-drums and digitised guitar sound of the closing Slow Nerve Action pointed the way towards the even more fruitful Dave Fridmann years.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Let Love In (1994)
There perhaps isn't such a thing as the definitive Bad Seeds album, a fact which owes more to their unwavering brilliance than any paucity in quality recordings. But Let Love In may be the closest they've got to it. It has textbook examples of all their calling cards: unhinged rockers (Jangling Jack); songs of unrepentent lust (Loverman); hilarious gallows humour (Lay Me Low); a clutch of Cave's finest ballads (I Let Love In, Nobody's Baby Now, the all-encompassing two-parter Do You Love Me?) and of course, in Red Right Hand, one iconic song about a man of shadowy deeds.
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer? (2007)
With 2007's game-changing Hissing Fauna... Of Montreal were transformed from fey, anglophilic popsters, to dark, damaged electro-glam-funksters. They hadn't completely forsaken their love of the UK; pushed to the brink by a messy break-up from his then-girlfriend, bandleader Kevin Barnes took on the persona of African-American tranvestite Georgie Fruit, a definite nod to Bowie's alter-egos of the 70's. Faberge Falls For Shuggie would casually toss out the titles for the band's subsequent string of releases, none as good as this landmark record.
Sleater-Kinney - The Woods (2005)
In what unfortunately turned out to be their swan song (though at least we now have Wild Flag as compensation), the Washington all-girl trio beefed up their guitar-playing chops and enlisted producer Dave Fridmann to amp up their sound even further, resulting in their heaviest sounding record. The Woods shamelessly revelled in a love for bluesy 70's rock - few suspected that Sleater-Kinney could write an 11-minute song, let alone pull it off with such fortitude - but the siren-like vocals of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein gave it that crucial gut-punch.
Talk Talk - Laughing Stock (1991)
After a painstaking recording process which would ultimately break the band, 1991's Laughing Stock found Talk Talk worlds away from the (admittedly darker than most) New Romantic outfit which had started out 10 years previously. It stands alongside its predecessor, 1989's Spirit Of Eden, as a stunningly singular piece of work, Mark Hollis' haunting vocals put to music which, with the aid of a host of fellow musicians, resonated with atmosphere, managing to sound both wildly improvised and impeccably crafted. Few albums are so hugely influential, and yet so utterly inimitable.