Top Albums of 2020

An ongoing list of my favourite albums from this year, listen and enjoy!

Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
1.
95
Country: USA

Genre: Singer-Songwriter

One of the best vocal performances I have ever heard. I love the raw, cobbled-together production behind the tracks as it only makes the unapologetic, angry and sometimes fun lyrics that much more impactful. There are so many songs that I love on here it is actually impossible to choose a favourite. The dolphin noises are weird though.
Moses Sumney - græ
2.
95
Country: USA

Genre: A bit of everything really

I am more than a little bit in love with Moses Sumney. His voice is incredible as is the progression in his lyrics in this album from his last one. The performances on Polly, Me in 20 Years and Two Dogs are flawless and incredibly emotive. The best parts of soul, art rock, pop and jazz in one great album.
Shabaka and the Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History
3.
92
Country: UK

Genre: Avant Jazz

A complete departure from the synth-filled The Comet is Coming, Shabaka Hutchings delivers another jazz masterpiece, this time mixing traditional West African instrumentation and vocals with dystopian themes handling colonialism and masculinity. Til the Freedom Comes home is one of my favourite songs of the year.
Run the Jewels - RTJ4
4.
92
Country: USA

Genre: Hardcore Hip Hop

There is not much more I can say about RTJ4 that hasn't been said already, it is a fantastic political hip hop record, El-P's production is top notch throughout, Killer Mike is one of the best rappers alive, 2 Chainz is there, this is music made for getting you angry enough to topple a police state.
Charli XCX - how i'm feeling now
5.
92
Country: UK

Genre: Pop

Made during 5 weeks of lockdown, I actually prefer this one to Charli's last record as the combination of the glitchy, bassy production works perfectly with the incredibly relatable lyrics about missing everything and everyone that the pandemic has kept us away from.
Nicolas Jaar - Cenizas
6.
88
Country: Chile / USA

Genre: Ambient

A very minimalistic ambient album but one with a staggering amount of depth, I love the use of strings and choral vocals that are both uncomfortable at times, but also want to make you listen more. Every sound has a purpose here, Mud is one of my favourite songs this year.
Rina Sawayama - SAWAYAMA
7.
88
Country: Japan / UK

Genre: Pop

This album brings everything that was good about the 2000s together in a way that doesn't feel like its riding a wave of nostalgia. I love the elements of metal and J-pop infused into so many bops, it is everything a smart, modern pop album needs to be.
Mac Miller - Circles
8.
85
Country: USA

Genre: RnB

The perfect send off for Mac, the production assisted by Jon Brion is excellent. The lyrics are appropriately somber throughout, but the record carries a wonderful optimistic and uplifting tone that does well to reflect Mac's life.
Porridge Radio - Every Bad
9.
85
Country: UK

Genre: Indie Rock

An incredibly in-your-face rock album with strong punk influences throughout, I love how crushing Dana Margolin's guitar is combined with complex and dense lyrics. My favourite part of this album is how well each song flows into the next , giving you plenty of time to process what you have just heard before bombarding you again.
Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
10.
85
Country: USA

Genre: Indie Pop

Phoebe Bridgers is a fantastic storyteller and this album demonstrates this perfectly. Delivering cathartic ballads about just how sad modern American life can be, Phoebe draws you into each track so quickly with her great vocals. this is a rare gem full of passion and energy that is impossible to turn away from once it gets going.
The Strokes - The New Abnormal
11.
85
Country: USA

Genre: Indie Rock

Full of introspective, synth led bangers, this new Strokes album was literally made entirely for summer evenings we were supposed to be spending outdoors with friends. I love the hopelessly optimistic vibes on tracks like The Adults are Talking and Bad Decisions, At The Door is also amazing and I will argue with anyone who says that Eternal Summer is a bad song.
Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure?
12.
85
Country: UK

Genre: Pop

I have always thought that disco is still cool but this album confirms it. Embracing the femininity of club culture Jessie's voice goes amazingly with the funky synth filled instrumentals. The most danceable album that I have heard this year, it is just so much fun. I want more albums like this, forever.
Awich - KUJAKU
13.
85
Country: Japan

Genre: Pop-rap

One of my absolute favourite rap albums of the year, the way Awich blends Japanese, Okinawan and English lyrics together during songs is incredible. Great features, catchy instrumentals and some decent pop songs to close out. The 3 song run of Senno to NWO to Nebuta is fantastic.
Pink Siifu - NEGRO
14.
85
Country: USA

Genre: Sound Collage / Experimental Hip Hop

A claustrophobic and confrontational album, this is a great mix of punk, rap, soul and jazz that illustrates the violence and chaos brought upon the black community and the militancy that is needed to combat it. The features from Moor Mother and Nick Hakim are fantastic here too.
Gil Scott-Heron & Makaya McCraven - We're New Again - A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven
15.
82
Country: USA

Genre: Jazz / Soul

An amazing tribute to Gil Scott-Heron's work, Makaya McCraven's instrumentals here are amazing, the heavy drums on songs such as Running or The Crutch make the original vocals that much more impactful. The standout here though is I'll Take Care of You, one of the best covers of all time.
Zalagasper - 4
16.
82
Country: Slovenia

Genre: Indie Pop

Just a really nice electropop album, at 33 minutes there is no filler here and most of these songs are singles released from the past couple of years. I love the blend of Slovene and English lyrics, the production by Gasper is really high quality especially on tracks like Sebi. The cover of Glass Animals' Hazey is a great rendition of one of my favourite songs ever.
HMLTD - West of Eden
17.
82
Country: UK

Genre: Rock

This album is so much fun, combing elements of pop, goth and glam rock HMLTD make songs to be played in stadiums but are never washed-out or dull. With plenty of instrumentals that wouldn't sound out of place in a Western movie, this album dips its toe into themes of horror and dystopia but does it in a way that turns them into arena filling bangers.
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Alfredo
18.
82
Country: USA

Genre: Hip Hop

An absolute dream combo, Freddie Gibbs' incredible voice and classic cocaine-filled bars fit perfectly with The Alchemist's piano and soul samples to create a project that sounds equally classy and menacing. If a mob movie had a rap soundtrack, it would sound like this.
Melenas - Dias Raros
19.
82
Country: Spain

Genre: Indie Rock

A really chaotic but incredibly enjoyable indie rock album, the vocals and instrumentation here go from calm to intense so fast that its sometimes tricky to keep up. Easily one of the best summer albums of this year, its full of optimistic and positive sounding tracks. The best thing about this record is the sheer confidence of the vocal delivery.
Jeremy Cunningham - The Weather Up There
20.
82
Country: USA

Genre: Jazz

A wonderful tribute to Jeremy Cunningham's deceased brother, very uplifting jazz pieces are interwoven with quotes from his brother's friends and family which are incredibly emotional and sometimes heartbreaking, especially the track Elegy. Cunningham's drumming is fantastic throughout and features from Makaya McCraven and Jeff Parker make this a well-rounded and unmissable record for jazz fans.
070 Shake - Modus Vivendi
21.
82
Country: USA

Genre: Alternative R&B

A record I can't stop coming back to. The synth-filled maximalist production is incredible and so good throughout the entire album. Shake's vocals are so confident and Kanye's influence is pretty clear. Spacey vocals and synthwave production are becoming ever more popular in the current mainstream but Shake executes this album in a way that keeps it fresh and unique. The Pines is a banger and I love it.
Riz Ahmed - The Long Goodbye
22.
82
Country: UK

Genre: Conscious Hip Hop

Dealing with topics of colonialism in a really interesting and impactful way, it is clear that Ahmed started as a battle rapper and his ability really shines through. Comparing colonialism to a breakup is a fun angle to take and it allows a lot of emotional themes to be explored throughout without distracting from the album's political nature. I also love the interludes they are very cheesey but in a nice way.
Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind
23.
82
Country: USA

Genre: Experimental Rock / Soul

Yves Tumor transforms from a noise and experimental icon into someone with so much mass appeal on this new record and that is very intentional. Along with massive Britpop style guitars Yves presents himself in a blown out of proportion hedonistic character throughout the album, very hot, very great. Gospel for a New Century is a perfect song and one of the best album openers I have ever heard.
Thy Catafalque - Naiv
24.
82
Country: Hungary

Genre: Metal

Featuring great transitions between traditional sounding folk vocals and avant-garde metal with 80s sounding synths thrown in for good measure, this album had the potential to be a chaotic mess. Thankfully it all comes together beautifully to make a metal album even my inexperienced self really enjoyed and would happily recommend.
Thundercat - It Is What It Is
25.
82
Country: USA

Genre: Neo-Soul

An amalgamation of the best bits of Thundercat's previous works, this album combines his unique and incredible twangy bass playing with hilarious moments throughout such as the whole of Dragonball Durag and Zack Fox's interlude. There is a somber feel running through many of the lyrics though and this isn't just limited to the tribute for Mac Miller, but I feel this tone really ties the album together as a whole and makes it more of a complete and well-rounded project.
Caroline Rose - Superstar
26.
82
Country: USA

Genre: Indie Pop

A funny, optimistic and character driven album, Caroline Rose describes her life through the lens of a 2007 Britney Spears character to great effect. Dealing with tried and tested themes of relationships and fame but through a unique angle, this project produces bop after bop but also delivers quality once you look under the surface.
Backxwash - God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It
27.
78
Country: Zambia

Genre: Experimental Hip Hop
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