Top Ten Albums of 2020 – Jack Horsley’s List

With the circumstances of this year hindering a lot of productivity, it was expected to be one of the quietest years for music… but music doesn’t slow down! With suprise comebacks and brilliant sophomore records, here is my Top Ten Albums of 2020!

10. IDLES – ‘Ultra Mono’

Following suit from their previous albums, ‘Brutalism’ and ‘Joy as an act of Resistance’, the Joe Talbot fronted Bristol outfit return with another huge punk-heavy record. Hitting out at facism and ‘tabloid frenzy’, centrepiece ‘Model Village’ is a highlight on an album full of working class rage from Talbot and co.

Photo: IDLES | Partisan Records.

9. Sea Girls – Open Up Your Head

After years on the scene, Sea Girls finally released their debut album. Despite being released in a difficult time it still picked up good traction and was a solid first attempt. This album tackles hard themes such as mental health, changing your image and unhealthy relationships, with a somewhat generic but successful indie approach.  With poppy, Sam Fender-esque ‘Transplant’, fan favourite ‘Call me out’ and anthemic indie banger ‘Violet’, there are good tracks galore!

Photo: Sea Girls | Polydor Records

8. The Magic Gang – ‘Death Of The Party’

After releasing a fantastic first self-titled record back in 2018, it was expected to be a difficult second album for the Brighton lads, but they made sure to deliver! With a more musically more mature album, the lads take on some edgier topics than covered on the first album, such as experimenting with drugs. ‘What have you got to lose’ and homage to 70’s rock ‘Gonna bounce back’ are personal highlights for me.

Photo: The Magic Gang | Warner Records

7. Gorillaz – ‘Song Machine , Season One: Strange Timez’

Only 2 years after their previous album, ‘The Now Now’, Albarn and Co are back with another impressive project, a collaboration album featuring some of music’s biggest and most talented names, like Elton John, Beck, Robert Smith of The Cure and legendary bassist Peter Hook! The title track ‘Strange Timez’ featuring Robert Smith is a trippy, electronic tune, leading into ‘The Valley Of The Pagans’ which feels like an early 2000’s Gorillaz track, which really works with Beck’s sound. The slowed down ‘The Pink Phantom’ really works, as Elton John brings his classic sounds to Gorillaz to make a really fantastic track! My personal favourite is ‘Momentary Bliss’ featuring Slowthai and Slaves!

Photo: Gorillaz | Gorillaz Productions, Warner, Parlaphone

6. AC/DC – ‘Power Up’

In their old age, it would be understandable if rock legends AC/DC released an album that was completely below par, but ‘Power Up is anything but! Channelling their younger selves, they have managed to make a brilliant classic rock record, with huge hits like ‘Shot in the dark’ and ‘Rejection’, it makes for an easy listen and for one not to miss!

Photo: AC/DC | Columbia, Sony Australia

5. The Strokes – ‘The New Abnormal’

This year Juilian Casablancas and The Strokes returned with a brilliant sixth studio album, ‘The New Abnormal’. After releasing suprise synth-heavy single ‘At The Door’, the hype was sure building. Managing to get a small tour in before the pandemic too, the album was shaping up very nicely. With hooky indie ‘Bad Decisions’ and New-Wave ‘The Adults are Talking’, the album makes for probably the best since ‘Is This it?’

Photo: The Strokes | Cult, RCA

4. Sports Team – ‘Deep Down Happy’

Building a reputation for their songs about motorways and fishing, with their fantastic live shows, their debut album was one of the most anticipated of the year. There is a multitude of fantastic songs on the 12 song tracklist, highlights being with ‘Fishing’, ‘Heres the thing’ and the stellar ‘Camel Crew’, there really is a reason this album was nominated for a mercury prize…

Photo: Sports Team | Island Records

3. Fontaines D.C. – ‘A Hero’s Death’

After releasing possibly the best album of 2019, with ‘Dogrel’, the Dublin post-punk rockers certainly followed it up brilliantly with ‘A hero’s death’. Feeling bigger than their first album (having been produced in LA), this album widens the range and palette in terms of composition and lyrics. Grian Chatten’s vocals cut through the psychedelic nature of ‘A Lucid Dream’ whilst they are a bit more down to Earth complimenting the hazy guitar line that rings throughout. Overall this album shows some brilliant growth and development for the Dublin lads.

Photo: Fontaines D.C. | Partisan Records, Rough Trade

2. Bob Dylan – ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’

After an 8 year hiatus, Bob Dylan releases his best music in years. With the bluesy ‘Goodbye Jimmy Reed’ and riffy ‘False Prophet’ this album has a multitude of highlights, like the beautifully soulful ‘I’ve Made up my mind to Give Myself to You’ and the 16 minute masterpiece reflecting on the death of JFK ‘Murder Most Foul’.  This album is an absolutely fantastic piece and shows that even at the age of 79, he is still one of the best musicians of all time.

Photo: Bob Dylan | Columbia Records

1.Blossoms – ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’

The third album from indie’s nicest band, Stockport’s Blossoms is their best work to date! Somewhat switching lanes from their previous work, they have released an album based purely on the theme of love. With the poppy synthy ‘If you think this is real life’ to The Strokes inspired ‘Sunday was a friend of mine’ the album doesn’t have a bad song on it! ‘Like Gravity’ is the heaviest song on the album, highlighting Joe Donovan as the brilliant drummer, whilst the slide guitar on ‘Your Girlfriend’ provides for an infectious riff that paired with Tom Ogden’s unique songwriting is unbeatable!

Photo: Blossoms | Virgin EMI

Words by Jack Horsley.

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