We can all admit that 2020 has not been the best year so far. A global pandemic can do that. However, every cloud has a silver lining. One such silver lining is that music in 2020 has been incredible so far. So, we have listed our top picks of the albums released this year… so far.
1. Ungodly Hour – Chloe x Halle
Blending R&B and pop with the ease and precision of musicians twice their age, sister duo Chloe x Halle don’t just avoid the sophomore slump with their second LP, they annihilate it. With their signature angelic vocals and newly acquired maturity, the pair move gracefully from the youth of their debut record to create something truly heavenly.
2. Future Nostalgia – Dua Lipa
Having already secured her status as a hit-maker with her debut, Future Nostalgia made quick work of anyone who had yet to board the train to Dua domination. Lipa marches along the line between homage and originality, presenting her own disco fever with such a breath of fresh air that it feels like a whole new genre. Serotonin is difficult to come by in these times, but Future Nostalgia delivers 37 minutes of unadulterated joy.
3. SAWAYAMA – Rina Sawayama
Imagine the great Elton John featured on one of the year’s biggest pop albums and yet, he still says your record is his number one of the year. Rina Sawayama doesn’t have to because it actually happened to her. SAWAYAMA takes pop and rock and smashes them together to create a really incredible textured record that delves into issues of racism, depression, friendship and, the old favourite, love.
4. How I’m Feeling Now – Charli XCX
In the next few years, the world can expect an influx of entertainment about the global COVID-19 pandemic. While we will all pay to see the lock-down movie and stream the rap verses that rhyme virus with iris, nothing will truly capture the lock-down experience of today’s youth with such accuracy as Charli XCX’s How I’m Feeling Now. Created entirely in quarantine, the record deals with the highs and lows, capturing the longing to go back to such mundane things like hanging out with friends and going on a night out. Its an undeniably relatable record, and an undeniably great one as well.
5. Punisher – Phoebe Bridgers
If you thought How I’m Feeling Now was vulnerable, do we have something to tell you. Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher is deeply raw, incredibly real and so very uncomfortable to listen to. The record delves deep into the sharp details of life, blowing up such fleeting moments and dissecting them with unrelenting scrutiny, and god, is it good.
6. EMPIRE – Blanche
When this Belgian singer stood on the Eurovision stage in 2017, it was easy to see she was a star. With a gorgeously emotive vocals and searing lyrics, Blanche’s EMPIRE blends the personal and observational and dresses it up in beautiful pop.
7. Manic – Halsey
After two uneven records full of great songs and weak songs, Manic feels like an artist finally understanding what they want to say and simply saying it. Abandoning the hefty pop sound of her first two records, Manic sees Halsey play with a more singer-songwriter approach, lacing the best and most vulnerable lyrics of her career over soft acoustic and pounding drums.
8. Rainbow Boy – Keiynan Lonsdale
An true undiscovered gem, the debut album from Love, Simon star Keiynan Lonsdale is unapologetically black and unapologetically gay. Lonsdale is so wonderfully himself on this record, the pure freedom is so infectious. It helps that the music is just as wonderful as he is.
9. Cape God – Allie X
A haunting pop record from on of pop’s most compelling stars, Cape God feels so vastly removed from Allie X yet so personal at the same time. A concept record born from a documentary about drug addicts, the album is oddly experimental and mainstream, setting Allie X further apart from her peers, and setting her record among the best of the year.
10. Good To Know – Jojo
Years after her debut, Jojo is no longer the wide-eyed teenager she was when ‘Leave (Get Out)’ topped charts worldwide. On Good To Know, Jojo seems to truly understand her voice, showing control and restraint where she would have once wouldn’t have had. The record is mature and sexy that feels like it was written by Jojo, the person, rather than Jojo, the hit-maker. The result is sumptuous R&B record that puts one of the industry’s best vocalists front and centre.