Nostalgia's Must Hear Albums: 2020

Dan Deacon - Mystic Familiar
84
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #1

This right here is easily my favourite album of the month. 'Mystic Familiar' is Dan Deacons first album in 5 years and he certainly came back in style. This album is an incredibly mesmerising experience as Deacon encapsulates his quite pleasant and fun vocals in these incredible chaotic and otherworldly sound scapes that really bring these songs to another realm of existence and take you along for the ride. If there's one album from January that I absolutely have to recommend you listen to, it's this one right here.
Spanish Love Songs - Brave Faces Everyone
78
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #2

On 'Brave Faces Everyone', Spanish Love Songs' lead singer, Dylan Slocum, does not shy away from letting his emotions out. And these emotions slap you across the face with just how powerful they are. The whole album is clouded in a sense of frustration, pain, hopelessness and anger that is hard to just fake, and whether it be Drug Abuse, the struggles Millennials and Gen Z have to face or just the overall monotony of life, Slocum puts everything thats on his mind to word with explosive and obviously pained lyrics which are backed by incredibly tight and solid instrumental performances by the rest of the band. If you're a fan of Pop Punk or Emo, absolutely don't miss out on this album. Even if you don't necessarily care much for these genres, i would still recommend checking the album out, there may very well be a lot for you to hold onto here.
HMLTD - West of Eden
79
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #3

I love this album, I love how in your face it is in a way that's almost psychotic. I love the insane yet charismatic performances from front man Henry Spychalski. I love the explosive and ever-changing performances from the whole band. I just think everything here comes together to make something truly memorable.
King Krule - Man Alive!
82
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #4

My god this really clicked with me. Upon my first few listens I just don't think a lot of the subtle layers, emotions and nuances really caught my attention but over time everything has floated to the surface for me. This is a perfect follow up to 'The Ooz' and it may even outgrow that album for me as time goes on.
Baxter Dury - The Night Chancers
78
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #5

Shout out to Kengoji for making me aware of Baxter Dury, because I don't know how eager I would have been to approach this so emphatically had I not been somewhat familiar with him already.

'The Night Chancers' is an absolute gem of a Synthpop album and I think Baxter's unique spin on the genre is at its most refined and polished here. It's the soundtrack to walking confidently down a suburban London street at 9pm and winking at everyone you pass because you're just that fucking cool.

Baxter Loves You
Baxter Loves You
Baxter Loves You
Beach Bunny - Honeymoon
79
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #6

'Honeymoon' is 25 minutes of sweet, emotional, fun and catchy Midwest-Emo infused Power-Pop fun. Everything from the catchy choruses from Lily Trifilo to the tight and often pretty instrumentation make these 25 minutes a 25 minutes to remember and certainly have stuck in your head for weeks to come
Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
84
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #7

Before going into this album, I didn't think I would like it THAT much, let alone place it at the top of the album pedestal for the year so far, and give it my first 90+ of the decade, but this really caught me off guard and here we are...

From the moment 'Future Nostalgia' opens up with the groovy title track, to the final anthemic track 'Boys Will Be Boys', it's all gold. This is a masterclass in how to make a musically fulfilling pop album without letting go of mainstream appeal. Every track is fine tuned to near perfection and rarely slows down be it on the songwriting, or production front, which does follow the recent mainstream trend of taking inspiration from 80's synthpop, but unlike a lot of contemporaries it's not overdone here, it's fun, it's fresh and it sure sounds good. I thought her last studio album was an often catchy but largely inoffensive and uninspired affair, I really didn't think she had a follow up album like this in her, but I'm always happy when an artist proves me wrong like Dua Lipa has here. Also 'Don't Stop Now' might be one of the best pop songs I've ever heard.
The Garden - Kiss My Super Bowl Ring
83
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #8

Sometimes you listen to an album that will have you saying: "what the fuck is going on?", but in the best way possible. 'Kiss My Super Bowl Ring' is one of those albums. The sound The Garden have achieved on this album sounds like the future of Punk Rock to me. It's just as abrasive, frustrated and raw as any punk should be but on top of that, it has some added insanity and unpredictability as well as some instrumentals that you could expect on a track by Death Grips, The Prodigy or even fucking Mac DeMarco at times. This album doesn't want to fit in to any box at all, it just wants to walk it's walk and do it's own thing, and it does so in quite the exhilarating fashion.
Dogleg - Melee
79
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #9

'Melee' is 35 minutes of powerful, exhilarating, and emotionally potent Emo goodness. It's not overly complex, but it makes up for that with immense and unfiltered passion. I'd be lying if I said this album doesn't follow a lot of Midwest Emo tropes, it certainly does. However, it does so without ever sounding forced or ingenuine. The whole album is drenched in undeniable passion and sincerity. I must also mention just how great the instrumentation is throughout. The drums never once deminish in power or energy. The guitar is both raw and intense yet comforting and pleasant. The bass always makes sure you don't overlook it. And the vocals are filled with absolutely raw intensity. And to top it all off, all of these are put together perfectly in the mix. I really urge you not to miss this one, especially if you have a soft spot for Emo like I do.
The Strokes - The New Abnormal
82
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #10

Is this The Strokes' best album since their debut? In my opinion, absolutely yes. I am absolutely mesmerized by how much I enjoyed this, it really reminds me of the experience I had listening to 'Is This It' for the first time, it sounds just as passionate, youthful and bold as they've ever been but with a sound that is certainly updated for the 2020's. Everything from the brilliant vocal performances from Julian Casablancas to the magical synths that the guys incorporated brilliantly into the music, just clicks together like it hasn't been able to since their early days, in my opinion. I knew the band had it in them to make something this great and I'm thrilled they've pulled through.
The Globs - The Weird and Wonderful World of The Globs
78
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #11

Damn, this was probably the most fun album I've heard this year. 'The Weird and Wonderful World of The Globs' is an energetic and passionate, Punk Rock/Emo delight with buckets full of charisma, incredibly busy and colourful instrumentation and brilliantly bright duet vocal performances from beginning to end. This is just what I wanted to hear today! Shout out to @Toasterqueen12 for the best suggestion I've gotten this year thus far.

PS. Check out their bandcamp to listen to the album yourself, which is something you certainly should do.
Shabaka and the Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History
80
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #12

Hats off to Shabaka Hutchings for being a part of so many incredible modern day jazz acts. Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming and Shabaka and the Ancestors have all very much impressed me in recent years and he's been a common denominator in all of these groups.

'We Are Sent Here By History' continues this legacy, and in my opinion, it's the best album he has ever worked on. It's incredible addicting, engaging, enthralling and complex. If this thing doesn't have you absolutely glued to your speakers, I don't know what will.
Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
90
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #13

It's been a few days since this dropped and I've been in love with it from first listen but it really didn't seem right for me to put out a review up straight away. This is a special album and I think I'm finally ready to format my feelings on it into text.

In my eyes, this is easily Fiona Apples magnum opus. While in a lot of ways it isn't too dissimilar in its structure to some of her previous works, 'Fetch The Bolt Cutters' sees Fiona at her most enthralling, sharp, witty, powerful, measured and colourful to date. It is an album that is drenched in vibrancy and raw emotion, which sometimes proves to be quite unsettling in a very beautiful and poetic way. It should also be stated that her lyrical ability is out of this world. Not a single word will fly past you, everything will stick with you for days and days, and potentially even weeks.

It's hard to see this album not going down as a defining moment of the 2020's in the decades that will come. And it certainly isn't hard to see why. Fiona Apple has just released one of those albums that seriously don't come around very often, and I imagine I'm gonna continue being blown away by this for years to come.
Rina Sawayama - SAWAYAMA
80
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #14

'SAWAYAMA' is certainly an album that plays to Rina's strengths. The album instrumentally is very intriquite, ambitious and incredibly well-crafted but what stands out the most for me is how, despite all of this, Rina's voice never fails to shine. This balance between interesting and well put together instrumentals and brilliant and passionate vocal performances to me is a formula for a great pop record, and this is exactly that.
Car Seat Headrest - Making A Door Less Open
85
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #15

I never kept it much of a secret that Car Seat Headrest is my favourite band. The music that Will Toledo has made over the years resonates with me more than any other artists music has ever been able to. It was about 2014 when I first heard about 'Twin Fantasy' on the putrid depths of /mu/ and decided to give it a shot solely because I loved the cover art, and I've never looked back. Ever since that fateful day, I've eagerly anticipated every release, seen them in concert, witnessed the band explode in popularity, and gave the 2018 re-recording of 'Twin Fantasy' my title of "Album of the Decade". However, before the legitimacy of my review comes into question, I have to add that when an artist I adore releases an album I don't like, I'm not able to convince myself it's good. If I think an album is bad, then I think an album is bad.

That being said, I truly and wholeheartedly believe that 'Making A Door Less Open' is a fantastic record and a more than worthy addition to the Car Seat Headrest catalogue. I can understand why the change up to their sound may have alienated a lot of people but for me there's absolutely nothing here worth complaining about. The album explores a plethora of new ideas, sounds and directions for the band without them ever having to sacrifice the aspects of their music that made them special to me over the years, and most of these new sounds and ideas are implemented very impressively into the familiar Car Seat Headrest aesthetic. The synth work throughout perfectly matches the off-kilter and charmingly awkward energy of the bands sound. The instrumentation and songwriting throughout is still very reminiscent of the Car Seat Headrest of yesteryear however it really seems like Will and company are having an absolute blast trying out different ideas and dynamics and making music in a way they haven't done before and I absolutely admire that.

FULL REVIEW ON MY PAGE
Charli XCX - how i'm feeling now
84
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #16

Amidst all the chaos, Charli XCX has come out wit her most abrasive and in my opinion, her best project to date. 'how i'm feeling now' is an album rooted in aesthetics and soundscapes that perfectly represent the homemade nature of the album, and it really is exciting to hear just how brilliantly Charli managed craft an album in so little time. The songs throughout are as intimate and retrospective as her music ever has been and are drenched in very endearing, lush yet raw production that give the overall album a very closely personal and comforting quality unlike anything I've ever heard from Charli XCX previously, and it really is quite the contrast to the rather bleak situation which inspired this entire release in the first place. The fact that she could come out with something this brilliant in so little time tells this won't be the last great album we'll hear from Charli XCX.
SLIFT - Ummon
79
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #17

On 'Ummon', SLIFT delivers an incredibly detailed, intense and larger than life, heavy psychedelic space rock gem. It's an album where I don't think words can do it much justice, you just have to listen to it yourself and get lost in its many intricacies, soundscapes and movements which fill up the 72 minute run time of the album and make it genuinely feel like it's half that length.
The 1975 - Notes on a Conditional Form
86
2020 MUST HEAR ALBUM #18

On 'Notes On A Conditional Form' it just seems from the get go like The 1976 put way too much on their plate from the get go and in the end, that seems to be true to some extent but I applaud them for such ambition and the listening experience for me seemed to be genuinely enhanced by the unpredictably of the album and even after a few listens, the album still never fails to keep me completely hooked throughout its long duration.

While I would be lying if I said this album had absolutely no flaws or throwaway tracks, yet there really isn't that many of them in my eyes. 'The 1975', 'Streaming' and 'Don't Worry' are honestly the only ones that come to mind but in the grand scheme of things those lows are vastly overshadowed by tracks that I absolutely adore such as 'Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America', 'Me & You Together Song', 'Guys' and 'If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)' and a lot more that I won't bore you and list, but that will easily make this the first album from the Manchester quartet that I come back to regularly.

This is as far from "an album for everyone" as The 1975 could have gotten but for me it marks the most ambitious, enjoyable and unique 80 minutes the band has ever given us and provides me with enough soundscapes, genre blends and ideas that a lot of other artist wouldn't even be egotistical enough to even attempt to put on a single album that it ends up being a listening experience that is wholly unique and memorable as well as The 1975's most personal, poignant and beautiful piece of work yet. I don't know how to close this off so I'll just say this: I love this album.
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