What a great year for music, despite the pain. Or maybe, it was because of the pain?
All of these albums have great production values. That is a given. And aren’t the album covers universally exquisite?
10. Moses Boyd. Dark Matter. #10
There is some real excitement and innovation in today’s British new jazz scene – and Moses Boyd is at the centre of it. This would be my number one jazz album of 2020, only beaten in this overall list by GoGo Penguins infectious electro-bass influenced album.
9. Moses Sumney. grae. #9
Overlapping textures, emotion and words that stick. Moods of all kinds and a beautiful voice, interspersed with moments of quiet, almost silence.
8. Four Tet. Sixteen Oceans. #8.
OK, so this is not the best Four Tet album. That would be New Energy. But since its release, Sixteen Oceans has been a constant companion for quiet contemplation.
7. Kelly Lee Owens. Inner Song. #7
I loved Kelly Lee Owens’ eponymous debut (2017), but this raises the game. Clever soundscapes and definitive musical moods make this a contender for 2020’s best. It’s certainly THE electronic album of 2020.
6. GoGo Penguin. #6
Well, this was bound to be on the list. Energetic and full-on. A real rush. And GoGo Penguin make vinyl their own.
If you don’t know their music, here’s the Guardian review.
5. The Flaming Lips. American Head. #5
Not the most eccentric from Wayne Coyne (though that is all relative), but an album which captures the mood of 2020 better than most. Clever writing, and typically psych-influenced tunes. I think this return to form might be destined to settle amongst their career top three.
4. Sault. Untitled (Rise). #4
Joyous and angry, yet melancholy and thought provoking. R&B meets jazz. How can any band get all that in one album – and then do it again with another 2020 release, Untitled (Black Is)? That album should also be in the top ten, but I wanted to be fair to other artists …
3. Grimes. Miss Anthropocene. #3
Not many comments needed. A mature electro-metal-pop-classic.
2. Phoebe Bridgers. Punisher. #2.
When Stranger in the Alps was released (2017), the album was never far from my daily plays. But Punisher shows so much new depth in Phoebe’s writing, and I can’t help but enjoy that edge of psychedelia. I had to have an internal debate before nominating the years’ number one … though in the end it seemed ‘easy’.
1. Fiona Apple. Fetch The Bolt Cutters. #1.
I remember walking down Fifth Avenue in NYC when Tidal was released in 1996. I heard it in the store, and became an instant fan. At that time, I bought the CD like everyone else.
Fetch The Bolt Cutters is is not only one of the best albums of 2020, but now one of my all time favourites of any year. I think the album will be regarded as a new kind of benchmark for singer-songwriters for years to come. Let’s hope it doesn’t take Fiona another 5 years to release a successor.
Pitchfork on Fiona Apple’s Perfect Ten.