Top 28 Music Albums of 2020 by babyBlueSedan (2020)

Another year, another year chart. Are year charts a way to track the best music of a given year? Or are they a signpost of another year that has passed, a substitute for more traditional anniversaries brought on by our incessant need to rate and rank? As time passes, we will grow weaker. Leaders will rise and fall, fads will begin and end. Entire civilizations may be destroyed. But year charts will remain, every year, appearing like clockwork. When did they start? What is their purpose? There is only one thing we can be sure of: they will never end.

(everything i've heard is here, high scores are better than low ones, my comments suck, blah blah blah)

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80/100
Playful introspective hip hop

It's very unlike me to throw an album at the top of my year chart after just a single listen. It's also unlike me to give an album I like more than a 70 on first listen; in fact, for a while I observed the "curse of the 75" where anything I gave a 75 on first listen would sound much worse on relisten and would get lowered by 10 or 15 points. But this new album from fka Milo is fantastic and deserves the top spot here. There were 4 albums I was really excited for that came out on March 6th and the first three I listened to ranged from complete flops to disappointing. This was the last one I listened to and it made up for all the others. Kenny Segal's production is as great as always, Ferreira is in top form here as a rapper both technically and lyrically. I haven't always been a fan of his, even skipping his last Milo project because the one before it wasn't great, but this returns to the sound of So The Flies Don't Come and it really hits the spot. There are also a few moments that just seem tailor made to impress me, like Adventure Time references and the interpolation of Pharaoh Sanders's "The Creator Has a Masterplan" on the closing track. He also writes these lines which are the best rap lyrics I've heard in a while and also made me laugh out loud at the end:

"One time I was doo-dooin' at a gas station and I
Read on the stall, you know, on the wall
'What's the purpose of life?'
And someone had actually wrote back, it said:
'To be the eyes, the ears, and consciousness of the creator of the universe. You fool!'"

Update: this is even better than I thought on first listen. Might bump the score up more in the future. I listened to this on a walk an hour before sunset and it was perfect, the live instrumentation and off-kilter beats and flows make it feel so alive. There are so many great moments that I unfortunately can't remember right now, but the one that sticks out is a moment on "Noncipher" that encompasses so much of what I like about this. There's this freestyling horn as Ferreira switches up his flow and eventually starts singing instead. A mix of jazz, slam poetry, and rap that is just fantastic.
[First added to this chart: 03/14/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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Rank Score:
29
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80/100
Present Excitement

Man, this is a lot of fun. I'm sure there are pop albums that are this much fun every year, but since the genre isn't really on my radar I probably miss them. A lot of people are comparing this to EMOTION but the closest similarity is that they're pop albums that indie fans are getting excited about. Or that they both have songs about hallucinating.

I'm not sure it has the front to back song quality that EMOTION has, but it's sure close. Don't Start Now and Physical are of course fantastic. Pretty Please is a little more restrained but has a great chorus. I love that recurring synth that sounds like a violin or something on Love Again. Overall I think the album has a few too many backing strings, but the point where they're at their cheesiest - the closer - really works. I like the closer a lot overall, and I think it ends the album on a real high point. (I will say that the "If you're offended by this song" part is a bit awkward. Partially because being "offended" has lost all meaning, and partially because addressing the audience during the song seems to be really straining to make your song a "big" "meaningful" statement.)
Year of Release:
2020
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29
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75/100
Indietronica rock

I liked a lot of things about the last couple Torres albums but neither of them fully came together for me. This one is the total package. Sometimes stark, but mostly detailed with guitars that have cool tunings and electronic stuff going on in the background. "Good Grief" is the highlight, but the opener is also very good.

Update: I just relistened to Sprinter for the first time in a long time and enjoyed it a lot more this time around. It might even be better than this...
[First added to this chart: 02/05/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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12
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4. (=)
75/100
Emo hardcore

There are some genres where I can get a pretty good idea of whether I'll like the album just from the first few seconds. Post-hardcore is one of them, usually due to the production and sound of the guitars. Well, in this case when I heard the first guitar chords I knew this would be at least a very good album, as the guitar tone is exquisite. I'm only one listen in, and want to spend more time at it, but I would highly recommend this album as some energetic, emotive hardcore.
[First added to this chart: 03/20/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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Rank Score:
9
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70/100
Gritty house

I listened to A.A.L.'s 2018 compilation/album once back in 2018 and didn't give it a second chance, but before this came out I went back to it. And it's really great, so I'm glad I did. That album is defined by some really engaging house tracks with fun soul samples. For the most part, this one goes into grittier / rougher territory and leaves the uplifting feelings of the last one behind. This isn't completely a bad thing, and this is still really enjoyable on its own. The first four songs are my favorite, especially "Loving You Is Wrong" and "IF YOU CAN'T DO IT GOOD DO IT HARD." But the second side is growing on me too.
[First added to this chart: 02/29/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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Rank Score:
33
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70/100
Cyber pop

Grimes says a lot of dumb stuff. I don't need to cite any of it because if you Google Grimes's name you'll probably find a lot of it, including her assertion that AI will make musicians obsolete and a description of her 8 hour workout routine, which involves sword training and sleeping with a humidifier on. She pitched this album as an attempt to "make climate change fun." Did she succeed? Well, I bet to Grimes that description somehow fits this album. To anyone who hasn't had surgery to disable their ability to see blue light, there really isn't a connection. Despite all the noise around this album, it ended up pretty good.

Just pretty good? Well, I was a big fan of Art Angels. Grimes is not - she's embarrassed by it. After I read that quote I assumed this one would be a lot less poppy and more...more...whatever Grimes is. It's actually still pretty poppy, but the main thing that stands out as a difference is the lack of songs. Art Angels had "Kill v Maim," "REALiTi," and "Flesh Without Blood." Even as minor tracks it had "Easily," "Belly of the Beat," and "Butterfly." And at least three or four other fantastic tracks. This one has...well, "Delete Forever" is a good song. It doesn't sound anything like the rest of the album - it's an acoustic guitar jam - but it's memorable and catchy. The rest of the album someone has an atmosphere of pop without having any pop songs. Like all the elements - hooks and synths - are there, but she wrote songs that all kind of blend together. It kind of works, but there's also not much to keep me coming back.

Keeping this at a 70 after three listens because despite the lack of hooks it's a very quick listen and it's a lot of fun. But yeah, Art Angels is soooo much better.
[First added to this chart: 03/07/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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Rank Score:
50
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70/100
Earnest neo-soul

Thank you Danny Brown for featuring this guy on your last album. This is a short and sweet collection of impassioned soul songs with great vocals and even better instrumentation. The first and sixth songs are the highlights, but there are no weak moments.
[First added to this chart: 03/07/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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1
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70/100
Indie country

I've never been a big fan of Waxahatchee, although I've never rated anything by her either. I could have sworn I'd listened to a couple of her albums, which likely means I was so unmoved that I didn't bother to rate them after listening. I liked this quite a bit after a couple listens, but it's been rainy here the last couple days and this is definitely driving down a dirt road with the windows down on a sunny day music, so I'm going to refrain from listening again and finalizing the rating until the sun is out (and quarantine is over...).
[First added to this chart: 04/03/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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Rank Score:
25
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70/100
Debauched nighttime pop

Blinding Lights is a tremendously good song, and for my money nothing here comes close to that. Which is kind of how Starboy was with the title track. But while I quite liked Starboy, this feels way fuller and consistent. It's like he took the sound from his early mixtapes and turned it into a bigger pop sound without losing any of the creepiness or edge.
[First added to this chart: 03/24/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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40
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65/100
Sunshine country

One of my favorite albums from last year was Orville Peck's Pony, which took traditional country styles and turned them into a dark, gothic sound. I was excited for Honey Harper's debut because I expected pretty much the opposite - traditional country filtered through a glam and sunny psychedelic lens. I expected this because of the exceptional Strawberry Lite, which was one of my favorite songs from last year. It's a beautiful song, and slowly but beautifully morphs into Oh Holy Night as it goes on. This album is pretty much what I expected: a shimmering, sunshine take on traditional country. Unfortunately it's lacking any really great songs outside of Strawberry Lite, so it's a bit disappointed. But I'll be listening to the follow-up in the hope that the songwriting is better.
[First added to this chart: 03/14/2020]
Year of Release:
2020
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1
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Total albums: 28. Page 1 of 3

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Top 28 Music Albums of 2020 composition

Artist Albums %


Half Waif 1 4%
Dogleg 1 4%
Snarls 1 4%
Porridge Radio 1 4%
Against All Logic 1 4%
Frances Quinlan 1 4%
U.S. Girls 1 4%
Show all
Country Albums %


United States 16 57%
United Kingdom 4 14%
Canada 3 11%
Mixed Nationality 2 7%
Japan 1 4%
Australia 1 4%
Nigeria 1 4%

Top 28 Music Albums of 2020 chart changes

Biggest fallers
fallers Down 2 from 3rd to 5th
2017-2019
by Against All Logic
fallers Down 2 from 19th to 21st
I Was Born Swimming
by Squirrel Flower
fallers Down 2 from 20th to 22nd
Marigold
by Pinegrove

Top 28 Music Albums of 2020 similarity to your chart(s)


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Top 28 Music Albums of 2020 ratings

Average Rating: 
85/100 (from 1 vote)
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Recognised  Decade Charts (2010s)
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9. Tiny Mix Tapes 2010s: Favorite 100 Music Releases of the Decade by Tiny Mix Tapes (2019)
10. The A.V. Club's 50 best albums of the 2010s by The A.V. Club (2019)
11. Top 50 Albums of the 2010s by The Wild Honey Pie (2019)
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14. The 200 Best Albums of the 2010s by Pitchfork (2019)
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