Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #26 Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Yr Skinny Fists...
Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#26 Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
In retrospect, I must have been a weird fucking child. My first job was night groundskeeper at a golf course in the isolated and forgettable town of Mather, CA. It was flanked by a perpetually empty road on one side and what appeared to be an abandoned field of alien mechanical structures on the other (old farm machinery? I never figured it out). I drove around the course in the middle hours of the night, running a new set of sprinklers every hour until I finished the whole rotation some time around 4am, hoping the whole time an alien or a vagrant wouldn't hop the fence from either side, maul me and bury me in a bunker forever. I had an old CD player (and by extension, a limited selection of music with me), and I could have brought along any number of bubbly pop records to ease the unsettling atmosphere. Why on earth, then, was Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven the album I chose to carry me through midnight and beyond, every night of the week?
Maybe it was because I knew the scariest shit I would ever encounter would come from my headphones. Lift Yr. Skinny Fists is perhaps the most cripplingly visceral album I've ever heard, a classic example of renegade experimentation with actual substance behind it. The darkest moments set the stage: a too-percussive piano over a rambling, droning voice; a hallucinatory voice telling us "when you see the light of God you will die"; the choking elderly voice reminiscing about his idyllic obsession with a safer Coney Island. These are the moments which forbid you, mostly, from listening to this album in the company of others; these are also the moments that make Lift Yr. Skinny Fists a classic. They lead into trembling instrumental lulls, two or four or seven minutes long, before exploding into bursts of orchestral energy for which Godspeed is so well known. In this album, Godspeed presented a sort of social paradox: something you needed to share with your friends, but when you did, you told them they had to listen to it alone. It was that powerful, that challenging, and that important; its inherent solitude prevented it from spreading beyond cult classic status. But there's genius in that solitude, a genius we're honored to recognize as one of the best albums of the decade.
Check back tomorrow for the next album! To see the full list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade, click here.