Those expecting another Paramore album were thrown for a loop — Petals for Armor isn’t Riot! Most of the lyrics are unintelligible, except for when Domenic Palermo defeatedly sings, “Isn’t it strange / Watching people / Try and outrun rain?” – D.C. 25. Apple’s lighthearted yet confrontational songs made a terrible year a little easier to process. Robin Pecknold surprise-released the sweeping Shore as the seasons turned, with his music at its most assured and his lyrics touching a newfound optimism. LS Read the full review. – D.K. If you were forced to describe Rina Sawayama’s debut as succinctly as possible, you’d probably opt for a pop/R&B/nu-metal hybrid with a dose of stadium-rock bombast, which sounds like the most appalling generic fusion in musical history. But his bandmates’ dynamism and energy, and his own quiet resilience, bears them all aloft. Frustrated by its absence this year, the self-professed workaholic made an album of sugary obliteration that signalled her fierce hunger for the highs: “I’m so BORED,” she spat on Anthems, a bratty shriek to scare off disassociation. A list of Pitchfork's best music of 2020. The anxiety of anticipation for Fiona Apple’s new album was relieved within its first three minutes and 58 seconds. The ingredients of, are familiar, but they’ve never been as potent or well-matched. His tales of drugs and women are delivered in a hungry flow that is deceptively brilliant: conversational even when at a high technical difficulty. The 15 Best Pop Albums of 2020 By Paste Staff December 31, 2020 | 2:30pm The 20 Best Indie Rock Albums of 1995 By Garrett Martin December 28, 2020 | 12:00pm More from Best Albums It’s as much fun hearing him sing about the powers of headgear on “Dragonball Durag” as it is watching him try to charm the pants off folks in the video. There are frequent pleas for better communication and reciprocity, likely to comfort anyone gaslighted into thinking, “Is it just me?” But when the connection works, it really works, as evinced by the numerous rapturous slow jams. More laid back than its predecessor (the more rock-focused, Crutchfield’s best album yet reminds us to accept imperfection and find the joy in our search for whatever comes next. In collaboration with a supreme court of rap producers including The-Dream, the Alchemist, Hit-Boy and No ID (plus curveballs James Blake and Khruangbin), Jay’s production is astounding, with dial-scrolling samples from Vashti Bunyan, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, John Williams’ Valley of the Dolls soundtrack and Louis Farrakhan. The music sounds like escapism; KeiyaA’s lyrical philosophy lays out a path by which one might truly escape. “’Cause you are a question that I thought I could solve,” she sings. “I finally achieve balance,” Chino Moreno half-sings/half-screams on “Genesis,” a pummeling highlight from Deftones’ ninth album. to carnal vintage funk (Super Stars), Ariel Pinkish psych pop (Strawberry Privilege), and a really blockbuster lead single in Gospel for a New Century. – Andy O’Connor, 28. Though he was a member of the New York hip-hop group Natural Elements in the ’90s, Ka found solo success relatively late in life. “Describe” is fuzzy dream-pop country, while “On the Floor” is funk-washed grind, complete with organ notes straight out of the Maytals. LS Read the full review. It should be underlined that the sororal US trio’s first two albums, Days Are Gone (2013) and Something to Tell You (2017) are very good: slick without smoothing too much over. December 22, 2020. The 50 Best Albums of 2020: Staff Picks. The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far Including Bob Dylan, Lil Uzi Vert, Bad Bunny, Dua Lipa, and more. It’s been a year of letting go, a prospect more comforting for some than others. BBT Read the full review. The album’s fiery message, bombastic beats and sharp humor offered both a musical reprieve and the soundtrack for a moment that needed one. –. Ware’s fourth album was highly flammable. BBT Read the full review. The peak is the ecstatic chaos of Flux Capacitor and its use of Rihanna at full tilt. Phoebe Bridgers’ trademark skeleton outfit underscores the Halloweeny feeling of her music. 16. Its plush disco setting evoked the era’s velvet, feathers and static-crackled polyester – cinders at the drop of a lit Vogue. A year of cancelled tour dates allowed Swift to make an album without having to consider the nosebleed seats. Saint Cloud provides no tritely optimistic spin on this state of affairs, yet still radiates a soothing, cathartic and bittersweet joy. Sincerity and connection, he suggests, are the only tonic: it’s there in the album’s guileless evocations of American soft-rock and emo (at 31, Healy comes from the last generation to experience an unmediated adolescence and with it unselfconscious teenage tastes) and its yearning for true devotion. LS Read the full review. If 2020 had a wry best friend, it’s Phoebe Bridgers, whose second album tackles nothing less than the idea of life after death, hero worship and resting bitch face — only to reveal on the horn-accented single “Kyoto” that, yes, she’s also a liar. It’s tough to consider how much further he might have wandered next. Twelve weeks on from one classic Sault album, Untitled (Black Is), came another, winnowing classic Black musical forms into one another: psychedelic soul, Afrobeat, electro-funk, performance poetry, trip-hop, jazz and more. To the end of a year that has already gone down in infamy as one of the weirdest (and worst) in decades. –, If 2020 had a wry best friend, it’s Phoebe Bridgers, whose second album tackles nothing less than the idea of life after death, hero worship and resting bitch face — only to reveal on the horn-accented single “Kyoto” that, yes, she’s also a liar. was Caribou’s most commercially successful album to date, even landing a Grammy nomination. The tenderness of Jam and Lewis, west coast hip-hop at its sugariest and the innocence of Japanese city pop are fractured by shivering dubstep and even the exuberant chatter of UK garage. Towering choruses burst with relief for the simple fact of survival. LS. Yet absolution prompts a tug of war, and the spectre of shame looms, although it’s now dressed in the rollicking chug of On the Floor, the poppiest Hadreas has ever sounded. The Dublin band’s second album is so evocative, and produced in such a way you can feel the echo and space in a room, that it conjures a sense-memory of what gigs were once like: the jostling that glee turns into slam-dancing, the “mm” of agreement when a ballad ends. - Zach Schonfeld, “Disco revival” is hardly a novel concept in pop music, but it takes a certain kind of star to make it feel fresh again. Dylan turns 80 next year, but he’s still raising the bar for American song. What are the best albums of 2020? More than simply disco literate, it is also a wonderfully meta exposition of Kylie’s pop identity, how she has embodied hope and joy and lived in service of the perfect pop song – its own bid for immortality. Sunny’s Time pitched a slurping piano refrain against a rap sample smashed into terrazzo; a spiralling synth seemed to make the whole uncanny confection levitate. And Crutchfield’s acceptance of the inevitable seems spookily prescient given that she made the album last year. Apple’s lighthearted yet confrontational songs made a terrible year a little easier to process. But where his fictional counterparts were criticised for declining to delve beyond surface recognition, Healy’s frustration at the social dynamics that affirm such behaviour is all over Notes on a Conditional Form. In contrast to that dreamlike haze was KeiyaA’s clarity of thought. Nothing could’ve swept this monumental release under the rug. But WIMPIII is much looser. On Murder Most Foul, his longest song ever – and one of his very best – he’s like Walt Whitman spilling his thoughts on a meme page for Facebook boomers: a sublime epic of conspiracy theorising, American history and rock’n’roll nostalgia. It’s peaceful, unhurried, and concerned only with internal turmoil. The dominant mode was strafing house. BBT Read the review. His lyrics are surrealism of the kind André Breton originally intended for the movement back in 1924, “an absolute reality, a super-reality”: bizarre imagery that nevertheless feels true to life, and in thrall to it. Snaith flirts with old-school hip-hop breakbeats on “Home” and dusty jazz loops on “Lime” (digging up. 16. Katie Crutchfield cited alt-country pioneer Lucinda Williams as a crucial influence on Saint Cloud, but the spectre of a more conventional giant is equally hard to ignore. That could also be said for dusting off previous collaborator and notorious recluse Zack de la Rocha. brings together over 40,000 charts and calculates an overall ranking of the best albums of all time. There is something profoundly restorative about Saint Cloud’s back-to-basics, largely analogue approach; its reliance on subtle, wending melodies and guitar licks that resound with dog-eared familiarity. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode II, Blockbuster movie sequels typically raise the stakes to go bigger than the original, and 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’s Savage Mode II adheres to the unwritten sequel rule. At 48, he’s never sounded less interested in chasing rap trends or compromising his vision, and, “I finally achieve balance,” Chino Moreno half-sings/half-screams on “Genesis,” a pummeling highlight from Deftones’ ninth album. For his return to original songwriting after eight years away, Dylan was showing his age in the best way possible: these songs are reflective, wise and slow. “I thought the sea would make some pattern known / And swim us safely home,” Hadreas laments on sparse closer Borrowed Light. But there are so many particular musical voices across these songs, such as the witheringly hilarious woman on You Know It Ain’t, that it’s never monolithic but rather a collection of personalities. Here are the 50 best albums of a year unlike any we can remember. But Bea Kristi still makes the record feel innately hers, penning deeply personal lyrics about mental health struggles, difficult past relationships and finding love with her longtime boyfriend. Making few references to the lockdown that brought about its existence, Folklore expands Swift’s focus from her personal relationships to imagined characters, widening the emotional and narrative range of her already considerable songwriting. Among a huge cohort of artists finding hard-won inner peace this year, the Welsh producer cast off limiting relationships and superficial pleasures on her second album. Coyne tried to answer the what-ifs surrounding that visit, delving deep into imagined characters and druggy nostalgia. Sault’s new album is weapons-grade R&B: rugged, soulful and unapologetically Black. Recorded over a five-year spell in her California home, Fetch the Bolt Cutters encompasses every euphoric rush and hopeless roar as Fiona Apple telescopes between historic incidents that once diminished her to find their common thread. A jangly and pensive journey down old southern roads, it finds the recently-sober Crutchfield considering past mistakes and paths toward healing. While her debut was charged with drinking tropes and her sophomore effort (2017’s, focuses on the more vulnerable stories of touring life: being away from home, surviving relationships and the anxiety of stillness. Her gloriously disorienting third LP takes this dichotomy to an extreme, breezing through disparate sounds with the ease of scrolling a news feed. Alexis Petridis Read more. The best music of 2020. The album emerged out of Daniel’s anger with the Trump presidency and his desire to avoid creating “‘angry white guy’ music in a purely reactive mode.” What he created instead is a luxuriant deep house odyssey, percolating and humming with drones, bells, murmuring voices, twinkling piano and even some live saxophone. Transcendence rarely arrives in the superb songwriting of Punisher, a record spooked by Bridgers’ tremulous vocals and self-produced, celestial indie-rock hum. That balance of beauty and bleakness also anchors another centerpiece, the crunchy “Death Star” where Stevens unnervingly chants “Death star into space / What you call the human race / Expedite the judgment day.” Earlier in 2020, Stevens also collaborated with his stepfather Lowell Brams for the New Age album, f the Oscar nominee has demonstrated anything in the last 20 years, it’s range. The breeziness feels like a warm draft off the Pacific, the warmer, messier swirl of sound in the mix truer to life. “And it’s good to just get people to dance and have fun.” – Bianca Gracie. Rushed forward by four months to give people something to enjoy during the first UK coronavirus lockdown, Song for Our Daughter sounded like bubbling with Marling herself: the gorgeously recorded vocals sit at the front of the mix, perched at the lip of your ear, and the arrangements sound as if they’ve been made from instruments that happened to be lying around a room (deceptively so, given their depth). “Disco revival” is hardly a novel concept in pop music, but it takes a certain kind of star to make it feel fresh again. A voracious hunger seethes through Murphy’s most club-facing record. Near-loss becomes as harrowing as outright loss: “Tired of Tears” (which most directly addresses his daughter’s struggle) is Stainthorpe growing weary of gloom and mourning, despite it being his very group’s life force. –, As a pandemic-riddled summer ushered in an even longer pandemic-riddled autumn, at least we had the bucolic sounds of Fleet Foxes to provide some comfort. The songwriter’s debut LP, Fake It Flowers, takes on ’90s nostalgia, offering hints of Lush, Elliott Smith, Veruca Salt, Sonic Youth and…Pavement. feels like a pre-pandemic fever dream. “Ooh La La” and its accompanying video showcased Killer Mike and El-P’s fun side, whereas “JU$T” battled injustice. Eliot, has developed her solo persona into a captivating and deeply emotive sad-song dynamo. Price is at her most stunning on the gospel-tinged confessional “Prisoner of the Highway,” in which she reflects on the cost of being an artist on the road while in love and starting a family. adheres to the unwritten sequel rule. The Best Indie Albums Of 2020. by: UPROXX Music Twitter December 4, 2020. Best music of 2020 Folk music. Alim Kheraj Read more. LS Read the full review. Just be sure to leave Waxahatchee’s, Katie Crutchfield, now 10 years removed from her place in indie-punk cult favorite P.S. The record has made history commercially as the first all-Spanish-language album to reach No. Unlike sequels that double down on the original’s tropes. Following 2015’s Currents, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker became an in-demand artist throughout the industry — countless festival gigs, teaming with Lady Gaga and Travis Scott, lending Rihanna an album cut. / Break yourself? Fetch the Bolt Cutters arrived eight years after its predecessor, The Idler Wheel…, but opener “I Want You To Love Me” maintained her signature idiosyncrasies, vulnerability and wit — all qualities that bloom further as the record continues. – Danielle Chelosky. Although hyper-specific to its creator (see: lyrics about hopping the fence at the Huntington Gardens, eating saltines on the floor, and. The often very funny Gomez excels at nimble vocal kiss-offs, which she layers into satisfyingly percussive patterns: the chorus of People You Know seems to fold in on itself like origami; you’d expect Vulnerable to burst into gaudy EDM, but it pares back to Gomez caressing every syllable of the word, as if putting her own seams on show. –. Following the 2018 death of his close friend Mac Miller, Stephen Bruner channeled grief into his music. On the exquisite Key West (Philosopher Pirate), he’s an old rogue hymning the last of his life at the far end of America, afternoon beer palpably in hand. - L.S. Just be sure to leave Waxahatchee’s Saint Cloud playing from the bank. Let’s just hope he doesn’t leave us waiting another five years for the next chapter. “Levitating” is a bubblegum-sweet joyride; “Physical” resurrects Olivia Newton-John’s ‘80s jazzercise; and “Don’t Start Now” is retro-pop at its finest. Their widely beloved 2019 debut single Bad Blood suggested the Yorkshire quartet could go in any number of directions – vintage new wave, jangly indiepop – but they headed for the club, using the industrial synth pulsations of Depeche Mode and early Ministry, and guitars that nodded to various legendary Mancunians – Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr, Vini Reilly. We count down to number one, with entries from Soccer Mommy, Run The Jewels, HAIM and Moses Sumney. –. Aside from the wrecking ballad Lose You to Love Me, it’s confidently unruffled, taking the Talking Heads-aided oddness of her 2017 single Bad Liar as her template. Plus, it’s likely the only 2020 rap album that builds a haunting loop around a sample from the ’70s Swedish prog-rock band Zamla Mammaz Manna. “The Old Earth” both accepts unrelenting misery and yearns for a cataclysmic reckoning in which Andrew Craighan’s trademark drawn-out melodies and crushing death-doom dirges become antonyms for dissociation. Heavy Light surveys life and finds a rigged game at every step, from birth to work and ultimately death at the hands of environmental apocalypse. When she sings, the effect is of catching someone unwittingly mumbling along to Janet Jackson through their headphones; her quicksilver vocal intimacy allows for flirtation and hurt to flicker through like electrical surges. The 15 Best Pop Albums of 2020 By Paste Staff December 31, 2020 | 2:30pm The 20 Best Indie Rock Albums of 1995 By Garrett Martin December 28, 2020 | 12:00pm More from Best Albums –. Look Back at 2020 One Last Time: Our Podcasts on the Year’s Best Music Listen to our Rolling Stone Music Now podcasts on last year’s best songs, albums, and more “We’ll be safe and sound / When it all burns down.” Let’s assume she’s talking about the concept of genre. Calling on heavyweights like industry favorite Jeff Bhasker and mega-producer Stuart Price, Lipa found escapism through dance-friendly jams. Metro’s usual atmospheric snares, chords and nighthawk mood are offset with some gloriously cute flourishes, such as the dreamy backwards tones of Mr Right Now or the classic electro of Steppin’ on Niggas. When the world needed something, anything, Run the Jewels came through with their blazing fourth album. By Sean Maunier on January 8, 2021 Filled with a lifetime’s worth of compassion, Fetch the Bolt Cutters isn’t just the album of 2020 but a future classic, a rare combination of innovation and profound deep feeling. He even eases off down to the blues joint for a couple of classic 12-bar stomps, though at a geriatric pace. As the pandemic turned the world upside down nine months ago, many musicians and their livelihoods were heavily impacted. The Best Albums of 2020 This year was highlighted by projects from artists like the Weeknd, 21 Savage, and Megan Thee Stallion. LS Read the full review. Bartees Strange finally broke through, earning universal acclaim in a terrible year where artists struggled more than ever. – M.B. BBT Read the full review. It’s best listened to on vinyl or iTunes, as the album is presented as one continuous piece of music, so ads or artificial track breaks can kill the vibe. Producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes use “electronic voice phenomenon” ghost recordings, corroded signals and electroshock bursts of bass and noise to keep you constantly choosing fight or flight. That balance of beauty and bleakness also anchors another centerpiece, the crunchy “Death Star” where Stevens unnervingly chants “Death star into space / What you call the human race / Expedite the judgment day.” Earlier in 2020, Stevens also collaborated with his stepfather Lowell Brams for the New Age album Aporia. Chicago artist KeiyaA’s self-produced debut took you swimming inside her head. The Best Albums of 2020 Jeffrey Lee Puckett posted December 7, 2020 Here we are with the final installment of Discogs’ year-long look at the albums that you, the community, have told us are the most desirable from the first year of each decade . LS Read the full review. –, Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist approach their art like athletes, forever strengthening muscle and refining their respective forms. You can’t argue with science Ariana Grande’s sixth album made no bones about its primary concern – namely bones every which way until Tuesday, upholstered by slinky, lavish R&B. On Bill Callahan’s 2013 album Dream River, he compared finding love to mastering flight, registering his surprise at the ease of it all. – Daniel Kohn. Brooklyn firefighter/rapper Ka dispenses grizzled advice like a clever veteran who never needs to raise his voice to earn attention. With two classic albums alongside Madlib, Gibbs continues his other dream producer partnership with the Alchemist (a veteran whose credits include Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Nas and tens of others) following 2018’s Fetti. Friday, November 27, 2020 The ultimate guide to the year's best new jazz albums as voted for by Jazzwise's peerless panel of reviewers – including the complete original Jazzwise reviews. And his swaggering libido was still apparent – you can hear his grin on the icy slickness of Cucumber as he implores: “Say ah J Hus make your pum-pum sore.” But dig deeper and you hear a young man navigating self-doubt in a world made to exclude him: “No blacks, no dogs, we were segregated,” he reflects on Deeper Than Rap. “Don’t do to me what you did to America,” Sufjan Stevens croons on the 12-minute epic “America.” And the broader mood of his eighth solo LP, , is just as overcast — full of poetic despair set against the experimental, electronic beats and wispy melodies that have defined much of Stevens’ music. – Josh Chesler. Like Beabadoobee, Clairo and other recent breakthroughs, Soccer Mommy actually makes full-bodied, melodically strong indie rock – at times you can draw lines towards Real Estate or Deerhunter, but the drowsy yet determined vocals are inimitably hers. 11/12/2020 Esquire … – Laura Studarus, Grief springs eternal for My Dying Bride — and it’s never been more personal than on The Ghost of Orion, which revolves around the cancer diagnosis of vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe’s daughter. But one encouraging sign from the music industry has been the number of artists innovating on the fly — figuring out ways to sustain their careers through the madness. Above is Metacritic's list of the 40 best-reviewed albums of 2020, ranked by Metascore. The same goes for power ballad “I’d Die For You,” where she parallels a soaring Stevie Nicks. The album’s fiery message, bombastic beats and sharp humor offered both a musical reprieve and the soundtrack for a moment that needed one. The 50 Best Albums of 2020. The group’s music oscillates to all corners of Black culture’s past: from defiant breakbeats and spoken word to high-life guitar lines and mutated gospel. / Mistake yourself for the things that they say?” he asks frantically on “Waking.” Without any easy answers, we’re left with the frenetic thrill of feeling it all. All rights reserved. Metacritic User Poll: Vote for the Best of 2020! – Stephanie Mendez. “Burn it to the ground,” she sings. The best of them all was this lilting, versatile record by Wizkid. Mac Miller, Circles "Good news, good news, that's all they want to hear," Mac Miller laments on the centerpiece to his first posthumous album. This year was an exercise in being dressed up with nowhere to go, but Jessie Ware edged us toward the dance floor anyway with her mirrorball-blessed fourth album, What’s Your Pleasure? But Disco didn’t just compete with this year’s surprisingly widespread revival of the genre; Kylie’s fantastical dancefloor, one of catharsis and community, resonated precisely with these weird times. Released in March, Colores won best urban album at the 2020 Latin Grammys, and scored the Colombian superstar a No. This is El Conejo Malo’s world domination — and now we’ve had front-row seats. Music reviews, ratings, news and more. Quite simply one of the best bands in the world right now, who have something to say and the means to say it. BBT Read the full review. It references Olivia Newton-John, turn-of-the millennium Madonna, 1930s Lew Stone (and by extension, 90s White Town), 80s INXS, Lily Allen and the Who. – D.K. – Al Shipley, Ascendant Houston psych-funk trio Khruangbin finally spoke up on Mordechai, their most lyrically-driven LP yet. With that resolve came an expansion of Owens’ sound: encouraged by Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden, she sang more and counterbalanced her emotionally astute songwriting with increasingly daring production – on Melt!, puckered rapids of minimal techno traced the cracking of an ice cap. along the way), but he never strays too far from the soulful, house-inspired pop songcraft he’s mastered on these past two albums. First published on Tue 1 Dec 2020 06.00 GMT. BBT, The Atlanta rapper-producer power duo follow their hit 2016 tape with another trap masterclass. Plus it quickly fulfilled its promise by offering escape when it arrived in the darkest days of the pandemic. Five years later, naming his follow-up The Slow Rush couldn’t be anything but a cheeky wink. LS Read the full review. –, The gushing minimalism of Steve Reich, the dreamy jazz-fusion of ’70s ECM artists, the ambient-adjacent pulse of the Field’s, — these seem like possible ingredients melted down and absorbed into the masterful new work from the Soft Pink Truth, a.k.a. Pushing into new introspective territory, J Hus’s second album would become oddly fitting for a year where carnival was swapped for dancing alone. The album opens with the atmospheric “Jealousy,” introducing the emotional world these songs inhabit. In essence, it’s been the band’s ultimate challenge for decades: seamlessly melding their arty atmospherics and eight-string metal intensity. Who else has the strength to enlist Josh Homme and Mavis Staples on the same album, much less the same song (“Pulling the Pin”)? – Bobby Olivier, Few artists could convincingly cover Korn and Carly Rae Jepsen in the same set, and next to zero can conjure both of those acts within a single song. “Ooh La La” and its accompanying video showcased Killer Mike and El-P’s fun side, whereas “JU$T” battled injustice.