Top Albums of 2020 (So Far)
I think it's pretty safe to say that 2020 has been the craziest year. We are only halfway through this rollercoaster, and it feels like the longest one yet. On a personal note, music has been the biggest form of therapy to help me reflect and navigate through the pandemic. I have spent the majority of the past 5 months listening to music all day long. Although I typically just make an end of the year album list, I thought I'd start early since 2020 seems like it will never end! Below are some of my favorite albums I've heard so far.
Note: This was published a week before Taylor Swift dropped her incredible surprise album, folklore.
10. Gordi - Our Two Skies
From: Sydney, Australia
About: Sophie Payten, known professionally as Gordi, is an Australian folktronica singer-songwriter. Her latest album, Our Two Skins is a beautiful collection of heartfelt and honest songs. Our Two Skins is a follow up to her 2017 debut album, Reservoir. Payten had recently completed her medical exams after years of studying to be a doctor, and began the process of ending her “nice, safe, but stagnant” long-term relationship. Coming to terms with a new truth in her identity – which played out against the backdrop of the same-sex marriage vote in Australia – led to an isolated internal state, further fuelled by distance, trying communication and lost love ones. ‘Our Two Skins’ chronicles the intense and impossible time Payten spent renegotiating who she is and how she fits in the world.
For Fans Of: Bon Iver, Julien Baker, S. Carey
Essential Tracks: Sandwiches, Volcanic, Extraordinary Life
9. Jeremy Zucker - love is not dying
From: Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
About: Jeremy Zucker is an American singer-songwriter. His latest album, love is not dying, takes you on a journey with his storytelling and production. Before entrancing listeners across the world, singer, songwriter, and producer Jeremy Zucker had been quietly carving out his distinct sound from a bedroom in suburban New Jersey. A fusion of organic airy beats, lush soundtrack-style soundscapes, and biting tumblr-worthy lyricism, Zucker’s catalog is eclectic.
For Fans Of: Jon Bellion, Blackbear, EDEN, Bon Iver
Essential Tracks: somebody loves you, comethru, you were good to me, julia
8. Charli XCX - How I'm Feeling Now
From: Cambridge, England
About: How I'm Feeling Now is the fourth studio album by English singer and songwriter Charli XCX, released on May 15, 2020. The album was released eight months after her previous album Charli (2019) and was made in a "do-it-yourself" collaborative process with her fans in the span of six weeks. The recording and title were inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Charli XCX announced through a public Zoom call with fans that she would be working on a new album in self-isolation. The entire project would be collaborative with her fans, using Zoom calls to share demos and text conversations with producers and ask fan input on single releases, song ideas, and artwork.
For Fans Of: Kim Petras, Grimes, Sky Ferreira, SOPHIE
Essential Tracks: forever, enemy, claws
7. The Weeknd - After Hours
From: Toronto, Canada
About: After Hours was released on March 20, 2020, and is the fourth studio album by The Weeknd. The album was produced primarily by The Weeknd, along with a variety of high-profile producers such as DaHeala, Illangelo, Max Martin and Metro Boomin, all of whom The Weeknd had worked with previously. Prior to the album's release, The Weeknd confirmed After Hours would face stylistic differences to his previous album Starboy (2016). Music journalists have noted the album as an artistic reinvention for The Weeknd, with the introduction of new wave and dream pop influences.
For Fans Of: Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, Miguel
Essential Tracks: In Your Eyes, Save Your Tears, Blinding Lights
6. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
From: Westminster, England
About: Future Nostalgia is the second studio album by English singer Dua Lipa, released on March 27, 2020. Lipa enlisted writers and producers such as Jeff Bhasker, Ian Kirkpatrick, Stuart Price, The Monsters & Strangerz, in order to create a "nostalgic" pop and disco record with influences from dance-pop and electronic music.
For Fans Of: Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Madonna
Essential Tracks: Don't Start Now, Physical, Hallucinate
5. Soccer Mommy - Color Theory
From: Nashville, Tennessee
About: Sophie Allison, known professionally as Soccer Mommy, is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter. Her triumphant sophomore album, color theory, was released on February 28, 2020. Confronting the ongoing mental health and familial trials that have plagued Allison since pre-pubescence, color therapy explores three central themes: blue, representing sadness and depression; yellow, symbolizing physical and emotional illness; and, finally, gray, representing darkness, emptiness and loss.
For Fans Of: Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail, Lucy Dacus
Essential Tracks: circle the drain, yellow is the color of her eyes, bloodstream
4. Pinegrove - Marigold
From: Montclair, New Jersey
About: Pinegrove's new album begins with a breath and ends with a shimmering exhalation. In between is Marigold, an urgent multivalent meditation - and an expanded take on the blend of alt-country, indie rock, and cerebral humanism that's inspired the band's ardent fan community. This marks their Rough Trade debut, offering what songwriter Evan Stephens Hall calls a "heart-first" perspective. Those familiar with Pinegrove will recognize signature elements of the band's sound: literary yet conversational lyrics, geometrically interlocking guitars, the dynamic shifting shadows of rhythm and structure. But this effort marks the most spacious, bold, and well defined iteration of the project yet.
For Fans Of: Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Foxing
Essential Tracks: The Alarmist, Dotted Line, No Drugs, Moment
3. Hayley Williams - Petals for Armor
From: Franklin, Tennessee
About: Petals for Armor is the debut solo studio album by American singer-songwriter and Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams. It was released on May 8, 2020 and serves as the singer's first solo release outside of being a featured artist. Williams explained the inspiration behind the title of the album is due to her belief that "the best way for me to protect myself is to be vulnerable." The album was produced by Williams' Paramore bandmate Taylor York and was written throughout 2019 during Paramore's hiatus after touring in support of their fifth studio album, After Laughter (2017). Pitchfork calls the album "emotionally vulnerable and musically ambitious, one that finds catharsis and enlightenment in the brambles of experimental pop production."
For Fans Of: Björk, Radiohead, Solange, Moses Sumney
Essential Tracks: Why We Ever, Dead Horse, Crystal Clear
2. Lady Gaga - Chromatica
From: New York, New York
About: Academy Award, Golden Globe & Grammy-winner Lady Gaga is a one-of-a-kind artist and performer. She has amassed over 35M global album sales & 32B streams, making her one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Chromatica is Lady Gaga's sixth studio album and was released on May 29, 2020. Gaga and BloodPop serve as the album's executive producers. Chromatica is a dance-pop, synth-pop and electropop album, incorporating elements of house, disco and many other electronic genres. Lyrically, it covers themes such as mental health, depression, loneliness, finding love through hardship, the trauma of sexual assault and self-worth, which stands in contrast with the positive and uptempo sound of the album. The album features guest vocals from Blackpink, Ariana Grande and Elton John.
For Fans Of: Robyn, Grimes, SOPHIE
Essential Tracks: Alice, Sine From Above, Rain On Me, and the iconic transition from Chromatica II into 911
1. Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
From: Los Angeles, California
About: Punisher is the second studio album by singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, released on June 18, 2020. Bridgers first established herself with her 2017 debut, Stranger in the Alps, a widely acclaimed emo-folk effort. In the years preceding her second album, the California native formed the bands boygenius (with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus) and Better Oblivion Community Center (with Conor Oberst). On Punisher, Bridgers' songwriting is somber and sardonic; deeply personal in nature, it explores topics like dissociation, manifestation, and fragmenting relationships. Its recording process was collaborative with its liner notes crediting over two dozen prominent musicians, including Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Christian Lee Hutson, Jim Keltner, Blake Mills, and Conor Oberst.
For Fans Of: Elliott Smith, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy
Essential Tracks: Moon Song, Graceland Too, I Know The End