–Jenzia Burgos, On her fourth studio album, UK singer-songwriter Jessie Ware conjures the erotic frisson of the cruisy dancefloors we aren’t permitted to congregrate on while the global pandemic rages on. But they’re also jam-packed with sharp, critical observations about growing up with dual identities, the Orientalist gaze, and the trappings of femininity. In turn, each twinkling note relays the bittersweet tranquility of memories gone by. Consequence of Sound's Highest Rated Albums of 2020. “I grew up in the shoes they told me I could fill, shoes that were not made for running up that hill/And I need to run up that hill, I need to run up that hill/I will, I will, I will, I will, I will,” she insists on another title track doubling as a renewed mission statement. Traditional structures melt into long vamps, as on the tormented psychedelic ballad “Kerosene!,” which distills the album’s beguiling agony. For their exquisite follow-up Flower of Devotion, Dehd upgraded to a proper studio, refining their gritty alchemy without scrubbing it too clean. But the best albums of 2020 proved that incredible new music will always make their way to our ears, even in the toughest of times. But in her instrumentation, she reaches for organic matter, sometimes painstakingly: Grimes meticulously tweaked acoustic guitar loops on “Delete Forever,” layering actual violins and banjo until they recall a post-apocalyptic campfire song. –Vrinda Jagota, Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal, While the Korean-American producer Yaeji has anchored her previous work in strobe-lit beats and floor-shaking bass, her first full-length mixtape captures the anxious, aching throb of the morning after a night out. We count down to number one, with entries from Soccer Mommy, Run The Jewels, HAIM and Moses Sumney ... Whatever your taste, the best 50 albums from this year … Sometimes an album comes along that grabs you and doesn’t let you go, like a boa constrictor, only wrapping you more tightly in its grip, slowly increasing its intensity, until your head explodes. His first album of 2020, YHLQMDLG , … You can also browse our Top 100 Albums and listen to the Rough Trade Edit Podcast Albums of the Year 2020 Special. Graphic by Drew Litowitz, photos via Getty Images. It makes for a complex and personal statement about the nature and worth of Black creativity and labor. A workout of sheer musical magnitude and absolutely their best yet. –Anna Gaca, Phoebe Bridgers will tweet about eating ass with one hand and crush your heart with the other. Many of those selections appear above in his top 10 picks. A band who inspire, promote and radiate inclusivity, Dream Wife's undeniable friendship and dynamic creative output is about as infectious as it gets. With Saint Cloud, Crutchfield’s fifth album as Waxahatchee, she climbs to solid ground, emerging from the storm self-assured. Buy now Bonus Exclusive: Offcuts 12" splatter vinyl. Hazel English - Wake Up! Buy now Bonus Exclusive: Every Bad BBC Session 12". “I have a gift, I’ve been told, for seeing what’s there,” she sings on “The Eye,” and her perspective has never sounded so clear. The wintry decay that initially clouds the album disintegrates on “Garden Song,” where the arrangement blooms and burbles, thumping steadily, like a walk home in crisp evening air. The 50 Best Albums of 2020 The albums that got us through this chaotic year, featuring Fiona Apple, Bad Bunny, Lil Uzi Vert, Phoebe Bridgers, and more By Pitchfor k Using only her transmuted and multi-layered vocals, the Berlin-based composer creates a dense architecture where choral music and meditative techno meet. If you'd picked up a pen at the end of last year and listed the things to look forward to in 2020, you'd have been spoiled for choice. Amidst the neverending whirlwind of 2020, it was tempting to crawl into a cocoon of nostalgic favorites and never come out. “Why doesn’t it feel the same when I’m in the air?” she murmurs on “In the Mirror.” “My life is in a weird place,” she raps in Korean on “Free Interlude.” But she finds clarity, and joy, in examining it nonetheless. A confident and utterly engrossing album from a band firmly at the helm of their own creative calling. Well, yes. Her mother’s terminal illness and her own struggles with depression appear in a wintry synesthesia of yellow, blue, and gray. The Strokes – The New Abnormal Baby can jump from whining about middle-school crushes to name-dropping denim brands to attempting to encapsulate one of the most tense and unjust moments of our lifetimes. –Olivia Horn, Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal, Quality Control / Wolfpack Global / Motown / Capitol, It’s taken time for Lil Baby’s My Turn to grow into the beautiful, sprawling mess that it is. Enter SAULT, the mystery music making UK collective with an album that delivers equal parts grace and charge, manoeuvring through disparate sub-genres to create a magnificent medley of exaltation. In the companion short film, he accompanies his thoughts by flipping through hundreds of old photos, adding bittersweet visual cues to the rambling narrative. Never before has eating cereal sounded like such a riot. A brighter, twangier outing than the debut, fuelled by bolder experimentation, all the while retaining that sure-fire sound we have come to define this talented band by. But rather than finding comfort in the anthropomorphic gesture, Grimes renders a bleak, if beautiful, portrait of nihilism. Twentieth-century listeners imagined the music of the next millennium as a harsh, mechanistic grind or a frenzy of twitchy glitches. While some vocal lines emulate pulsing bass and celestial synth, the prevailing current is a surging chorus of near-language, struck through with the unmistakable trembles and notches of a human voice. Kempf and Balla trade yearning, hiccupy vocals across riffs that reverberate like heat waves off asphalt, as McGrady thuds away through the humid air. –Quinn Moreland, Fifteen years ago, on the title track to Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple declared, “I still only travel by foot, and by foot, it’s a slow climb.” She worked her way up to the clear heights of Fetch the Bolt Cutters over the course of the last half-decade or so, largely at her L.A. home alongside trusted bandmates and friends and a small shelter’s worth of barking dogs. –Amy Phillips, Historically, there are two trajectories from sweetie childhood star to flawed adult: the bumpy one full of high-profile foibles or the one where they wind up as robots. But even though she’s sick of the bullshit surrounding her, she doesn’t let it consume her being. TDF Albums of the year 2020. Buy now on Rough Trade Exclusive galaxy vinylBonus Exclusive: Copycat Killer 12". –Alphonse Pierre, Dua Lipa’s second studio album is anchored by popular sounds of the past, but it’s less attached to a memory than the promise of a feeling. –Rawiya Kameir, For 25 years, Dan Bejar has come across as the smartest absinthe-sipping aesthete in the room. If only we could make like Sumney and turn self-interrogation into a singular kind of art. The Quietus Albums Of The Year 2020. –Madison Bloom, Ka has spent his 40s laboring over how to animate the ghosts of his home. His deep familiarity with each of those touchstones—he prefaced Live Forever with an EP of National covers—allows him to explode them from within and rethink not just how but if they speak for him. 50. So, to cap this truly remarkable year, we've assembled our 50 favourite albums from 2020. Lyrically, Burna muses on fame, destiny, and, on “Monsters You Made,” the legacy of colonialism in Nigeria. On this album, Bridgers talks to the deceased, arranging a bouquet of lyrical details to lay on the tomb of a singer whose life was taken long ago. Written By SPIN Staff December 10 2020, 9:45 AM ET. The 50 best albums of 2020: the full list Fiona Apple Composite: Gary Miller Our countdown is complete, topped by a mercurial work of sprawling invention by a woman who has dug deep to survive. His 2020 album of original compositions is a radically different proposition: a 43-minute ambient suite meant to counter fascism’s global spread with joy rather than despair. The napkins might be white linen but nobody’s using them. –Paul A. Thompson, For years, Matmos’ Drew Daniel used his solo project the Soft Pink Truth to join his disparate interests, reimagining punk classics and black metal as squirrelly glitch techno. These are our favorites – the albums that influenced us the most. Rarely has there been an artistic statement this stirring, this staggering, this powerful. They are mostly untitled, proceed according to a single tempo across the whole album, and feature a drastically limited instrumental palette. Jay’s lines are clever and self-reflective, and his references are evergreen: “Fuck Bill O’Reilly and Rudy Giuliani,” he passionately raps on “New Illuminati.” It’s rewarding to be swept up in his aura, and to feel the magnitude of every strategically placed interlude, every space where the beat rides endlessly, and every roughly mixed verse. GTL is a technical marvel as well as a creative one: producer JoogSZN’s beats retain their funk and low end while making space for Drakeo’s vocals, which come through impressively crisp. The 50 best albums of 2020 in alternative, pop punk, metal and beyond If there’s one good thing that came out of 2020, it’s these albums from NOFX and … In 2018 we gave you our nine favourite albums, this year we're feeling generous and letting you have a couple more recommendations. This year hasn’t been easy for the music community, or any community for that matter. –Stephen M. Deusner, Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Apple Music | Bandcamp |  Spotify | Tidal, Recorded in secret in quarantine and unleashed upon the world with less than a day’s warning, folklore was the first Taylor Swift album untethered from the traditional expectations of a blockbuster release. December 18, 2020 9:00 am. But while many were soothed by the familiar in 2020, new music was one of the simple pleasures that distracted others from the dread of this year. Perfume Genius, Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple, Lil Uzi Vert, Bad Bunny, and Moses Sumney. The fact that Melee conjures a year so different from the one we got is part of why it leaves such a mark: The histrionics of emo aren’t just dramatic, they’re now science fiction. A pair of albums that work as a brilliant whole, songs and instrumentals capture the ambiance of the woods, the anguish of a breakup, and an autumn’s harvest of keen-eyed musings, at once lofty and visceral. Sawayama is an album that morphs musical elements into a giant megazord of monster pop, built to defeat the drab mundanity destroying our lives. His songs can be layered and minimal, lingual and graphic, natural and mechanical—all coming together in a work that both registers the omnipotence of imperial history and documents an ongoing restoration process. Here, orchestral strings stitch up an oozing wound that gushes with memories. –Brian Josephs, A band’s impact shouldn’t be hypothetical, but here’s Dogleg, the debutants of Michigan emo, whose breakout year mostly took place in the imagination. This has it all and then some.Immerse yourself in this sun soaked triumph built with the sweetest grooves going. Porridge Radio’s intensity feeds on feelings turned sour that rise and fall through Dana Margolin’s mouth in a range of escalated, climactic moments. The 50 Best Albums of 2020. The pianist and multidisciplinary London artist’s work skirts conventional disciplines, tinkering with the very concepts of “jazz” and “club” music as it synthesizes a substitute. KiCk i is her first record to prominently feature several guest singers, with Björk, Rosalía, SOPHIE, and Shygirl all present to witness her various metamorphoses. Workaround inverts that dynamic: By requiring sustained close attention to the thumps and shimmers in your headphones, it offers something truly meditative. Alive with the kind of freedom that 2020 mostly failed to deliver, Lipa’s vision of future-pop pairs classic themes of love with enough hope to carry us to a new year. The first of two incredible albums released by the band this year is weapons-grade R&B and luxuriates in being unapologetically Black. When a slightly unfinished version of Jay Electronica’s Act II appeared this October, it had been a little over a decade after its initial slated release, and most fans had given up hope on it ever actually coming out. Kate NV on the 9 Things That Inspired Her Excellent New Album, Rina Sawayama on Her Wildly Eclectic and Disarmingly Personal Debut Album, Chicago Indie Rockers Dehd Tackle Life’s Cosmic Joke With Unpretentious Charm, Lomelda’s Hannah Read Is Forever Searching for Connection, product of his father’s sins cursing east Brooklyn’s soil, How Drakeo the Ruler Recorded an Amazing-Sounding Album From Jail, How Radiohead, Social Media Addiction, and the Ravages of Climate Change Inspired Kelly Lee Owens’ New Album, Porridge Radio Make Indie Rock for the Angsty Antisocial in All of Us, The Quiet Return of Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens, Get to Know Amaarae, Who’s Expanding the Sound of Afropop, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar Serenades the Apocalypse, U.S. Still, without question, it’s Garcia’s performances and curatorial instincts that make this such a powerful statement of self. 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