The Best Albums Of 2020.

The Best Albums Of 2020.

After several weeks of almost friendship-ending arguments, changes of heart at midnight, and one mathematically intense spreadsheet, we are here today to present to you our final decision on 2020's Best Albums (click here for our Best Songs Of 2020 list)...

#10. ‘MANIC’ - HALSEY

BECAUSE: In the sharing of this album "made by Ashley for Halsey", Halsey showcased significant personal growth by tackling her trauma headfirst and flexing her strength as a poignant lyricist; addressing a very human tendency to self-sabotage, and that tiresome voice in your head that just won't shut up. The best lyrics of 2020 open 'I HATE EVERYBODY' ("I'm my own biggest enemy / Yeah, all my empathy's a disaster"), which is not only an excellently relatable title, but also the mid-point of a magnificent trifecta of songs which begin with 'Dominic's Interlude' (Dominic Fike sings: "And if you're lookin' for signs then, you should know / There's power in the words you're thinking"), and ends with '3am' ("My self-preservation and all of my reservations / Are sittin' and contemplating what to do with me"). [SG]
KEY TRACKS: 'I HATE EVERYBODY', '3am', 'Dominc’s Interlude', 'You Should Be Sad', 'Finally // beautiful stranger'.

#9. ‘FAKE IT FLOWERS’ - BEABADOOBEE

BECAUSE: Society has constructed a narrative that teenage girls are worthless, superficial, and hysterical, but in Bea Kristi, the truth presents itself in an unwillingness to play along with misogynistic double-standards or to tolerate emotional ignorance, and in her embrace of anger as a motivator. Unapologetically singing on lead single 'Care' that, "I don’t want your sympathy," Kristi tends to herself, nurtures herself, and unflinchingly spotlights her own pain, culminating in the understanding that identifying one's own trauma can be an empowering experience if you refuse to let it own you. [SG]
KEY TRACKS: 'Together', 'Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene', 'Worth It', 'Care'.

#8. ‘PUNISHER’ - PHOEBE BRIDGERS

BECAUSE: Following up on her debut, ‘Stranger In The Alps’, seemed like a task too difficult to conquer, but as usual, Phoebe Bridgers' vocals, lyricism, and world-building reigned supreme once again - creating a safe space of doom and gloom that lets you know it's not just you who feels like it's the end of the world. In her Grammy-nominated sophomore album, Bridgers covers everything from an apocalypse in 'I Know the End', to still believing that one day you are going to get that letter from Hogwarts in 'Chinese Satellite' - always with her trademark humour and wry lyricism never faltering throughout the album, Bridgers gave us all the perfect soundtrack for 2020. [LJ]
KEY TRACKS: 'Garden Song', 'Punisher', 'Chinese Satellite', 'Moon Song', 'Graceland Too', 'I Know The End'.

#7. ‘UNGODLY HOUR’ - CHLOE X HALLE

BECAUSE: This was the year that saw Chloe and Halle Bailey step out from behind the shadow of their not-so-mysterious benefactor (clue for the uninformed: her surname is Knowles-Carter) and become one of the most enigmatic and exciting acts on the planet. With their third LP of delectable R&B pop and an unparalleled mastery of the lockdown live performance, Chloe x Halle have gifted us a slew of unforgettable earworms (the three-song run of standouts, 'Do It', 'Tipsy' and the title track form a strong contender for the best ten minutes on any 2020 album) and have been rewarded with a trio of Grammy nominations for their troubles. [RH]
KEY TRACKS: 'Baby Girl', 'Do It', 'Tipsy', 'Ungodly Hour', 'Lonely', 'Wonder What She Thinks of Me', 'Don't Make It Harder On Me'.

#6. 'WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG' - DOMINIC FIKE

BECAUSE: "I hope they cancel me, so I can go be with my family, so I can quit wearing this mask," reflects Dominic Fike on fame in 'Cancel Me' from his debut album 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong', one of the year's most highly anticipated projects. [FYI: He's talking about a metaphorical mask - we 100% support the wearing of masks to protect yourself and others in the pandemic.] And it's this forthrightly honest lyricism which makes Fike's project connect so strongly - whether he's tacking his relationship with his father on the self-produced 'Good Game' or calling out energy vampires on 'Vampire', Fike is totally unafraid to say what's on his mind. Armed with undeniable hooks (you'll be humming the melodies of 'Why' and 'Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake)' for weeks after you listen), Fike's musicianship reaches new peaks, with songs like '10x Stronger' seeing the addition of strings showcase a whole new range. With work already underway on the follow-up, Fike's debut is a testament to his talents, and what is still yet to come. [RR]
KEY TRACKS: 'Wurli', 'Cancel Me', 'Vampire', 'Why', 'Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake)'.

#5. ‘NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM’ - THE 1975

BECAUSE: Who else would dare release a 22-track opus that reassembles all the self-referential Easter egg building-blocks of their back-catalogue to showcase a brave new world in which the four-piece continue to eschew all expectations. Forget everything you thought you already knew about The 1975. Palpable emotions, candid lyricism, undefinable soundscapes; 'Notes On A Conditional Form' bestows all that, but more. Defying the standard laws that mark a musically cohesive album, The 1975 instead find solidarity and togetherness in the chaotic interrelatedness of humankind's collective fragility and indeterminable futures. Change is inevitable, but it's also constant, and it's this reassuring thought that beams bright at the heart of all things The 1975; unifying listeners in their shared anxiety. [SG]
KEY TRACKS: 'Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)', 'Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied', 'If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)', 'What Should I Say', 'The Birthday Party'.

#4. 'CHIP CHROME & THE MONO-TONES' - THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

BECAUSE: There's absolutely nothing lost in translation with this album (and 'Lost In Translation' also happens to be one of the best songs of the year). Album opener 'Chip Chrome' invites listeners into a fantastical, surreal world, and the ten tracks that follow see the band exploring a plethora of musical ideas, from the country-twang of 'Hell Or High Water', to the hip-hop infused 'BooHoo', and The Manhattans' sample (from their 1973 song 'Wish That You Were Mine') that kicks off the vivacious 'Lost In Translation'. Amongst it all, the band sound more comfortable than ever with their unconventionality and ever-changing sound.
KEY TRACKS: 'Lost In Translation', 'Pretty Boy', 'Silver Lining', 'BooHoo’, ‘Stargazing’.

#3. ‘FUTURE NOSTALGIA’ - DUA LIPA

BECAUSE: No one’s doing it like Dua. Most popstars dream of having as many god-tier bangers across their whole career as she crams into 'Future Nostalgia'. From the house-funk of 'Don’t Start Now' to the full-bodied shout-along 'Physical', it’s an album propelled by a single purpose: to elicit euphoria and get us all dancing. Released in late March, she could never have known just how badly we’d need the joy of 'Future Nostalgia'. The album sky-rocketed Dua Lipa to the A-list and strong-armed us all into clinging to joy in the midst of disaster. [RH]
KEY TRACKS: 'Future Nostalgia', 'Don’t Start Now', 'Cool', 'Physical', 'Levitating', 'Pretty Please', 'Hallucinate', 'Break My Heart'.

#2. ‘FOLKLORE’ - TAYLOR SWIFT

BECAUSE: It was the album we didn’t know we were getting, but now it’s the album we can’t imagine our 2020 without. No other record from this year has been as simultaneously beloved and acclaimed as 'folklore', nor has there been a Taylor Swift album this well received since 2014’s '1989'. Attempts to define it — Taylor’s indie experiment, a reach for a kind of cool credibility, a return to her country roots — all fall short. What folklore really gives us is a songwriter allowed space to flex her natural talents in a newfound quiet, both from the solitude of lockdown and from, ahem, shaking off the chaos of celebrity noise that has often hindered rather than helped on her music. No matter where the songs fall on the fact/fiction scale, from the song cycle of 'cardigan', 'august' and 'betty', through to deeply personal tales such as 'invisible string' and 'peace', each story told is imbued with maturity and genuine feeling. Having followed the album up just last week with another fifteen tracks on 'evermore', working again with 'folklore' collaborators Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Justin Vernon, and the surprising songwriting talents of the pseudonymous Joe “William Bowery” Alwyn, we will forever look back at Taylor Swift’s 2020 as the year she turned a drastic and exciting new corner in her remarkable career. [RH]
KEY TRACKS: 'the 1', 'cardigan', 'my tears ricochet', 'mirrorball', 'august', 'this is me trying', 'invisible string', 'peace'.

#1. 'WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III' - HAIM

BECAUSE: Like an emotional catharsis, listening to Haim's much-anticipated third album 'Women In Music Pt. III' is confirmation that a problem shared is a problem halved (or in Haim’s case, a problem thirded). That it's important to be your own best friend. That your self-worth cannot be discounted. And most of all, that it's okay to not be okay. These are some of the things that Haim gently (but whole-heartedly) remind you on WIMPIII - always comforting, always looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel, and always punctuated by powerful reminders of one's own hardiness ("But I ain’t dead yet," sings Danielle wryly in 'I've Been Down', who co-produced every song on the album, along with Ariel Rechtshaid and Rostam Batmanglij). Continuing to expound upon the never-ending difficulties of communication, WIMPIII is a defining chapter of empathetic perspectives in The Book of Haim ("Do you understand? You don't understand me"), and also finds the band exorcising their own demons and sharing a more vulnerable side with deeply introspective tracks addressing prevalent issues such as depression and loneliness. [SG]
KEY TRACKS: 'Don’t Wanna', 'The Steps’, 'Los Angeles', '3AM', 'I've Been Down', 'All That Ever Mattered'.

If you want to listen to all ten albums, one after the other / all together, then this playlist is for you:

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