Any album played publicly in a work environment has to satisfy two criteria: it has to be interesting enough to suggest you have good taste and a rich, varied social life but it has to also be accessible – you don’t want to alienate or terrify everyone apart from the one girl in the office who listens to NTS and goes to house parties every weekend. Try to impress her and you’ve already failed. Let her go. The Pharcyde’s ageless, polychromatic debut Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde is just the ticket.
Perhaps skip: It’s Jiggaboo Time is a sharp parody of racial politics in American pop culture but might sound a bit much out of your office speakers.
At one end of our history as a music-making species you have humanity’s paleolithic ancestors banging on tree stumps with rocks. Right at the other end is The Very Best of Hall and Oates by Daryl Hall and John Oates. There’s something undeniable, something powerfully classy about their best work. It’s music written by and for millionaires, precision-engineered for maximum enjoyment. Hit after hit.
Perhaps skip: Cut it off before the final two tracks. Not up to the incredibly high, incredibly smooth standards to which the lads allowed us to grow accustomed.
Before dubstep was hijacked and mutilated by bare-chested, protein-enriched American party bros it was synonymous with night buses, sombre introspection and Croydon. The genre’s defining moment may have come in 2007 with the release of Burial’s Untrue. It’s great music to work to, still extremely relevant, and you can even win cool points by saying things like “so refreshing to hear dubstep that’s not covered in that damn wobble bass effect!” while it’s on.
Perhaps skip: The creepy intro might have people thinking you’ve put on an ambient horror soundtrack.
Late 1980s hip-hop is a must but where do you go? Eric B and Rakim? Too sparse and rattly. NWA? Too much peppermint language for Carol in HR. LL Cool J? Too dreadful. Step forward EPMD and their debut album Strictly Business. While other rappers tried to out-yell each other Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith were attempting to sound as laid-back as possible. Not to mention this was before Rick James sued MC Hammer for sampling his music so you’ll hear massive chunks of classic R&B and reggae tracks, brazenly used in ways that would today be entirely illegal.
Perhaps skip: Those echo effects on The Steve Martin get quite annoying.
You’ve been disillusioned with the system for a while now. Time to put on an album to show The Man how you really feel. Unfortunately, blasting out Doing the Unnecessary For the Ungrateful by The Locust isn’t always an option so why not give The Argument by principled post-hardcore pioneers Fugazi a spin? Catchy and restrained but also angry and moral enough so that when you catch the boss’ eye during the chorus of Cashout he’ll understand exactly what kind of righteous guy you are*. (*He won’t. He doesn’t care.)
Perhaps skip: Full Disclosure might be a bit discordant and screamy for the average office.
Words by Joe Mackertich
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger