Top Albums of 2020 | Alex Herron

2020 has most definitely been a year to forget however despite current world events this has been one of the best years for music in a very long time. I’ve put together a short list of some of my favourite albums from this year aswell as a rating.

5. Roisin Murphy – ‘Roisin Machine’

‘Roisin Machine’ is the fifth studio album by Irish singer-songwriter and record producer, Roisin Murphy. To date ‘Roisin Machine’ is the highest charting album by Murphy debuting at number 14 on the UK album chart. Tracks like ‘Narcissus’ and ‘Murphy’s Law’ garnered lots of attention online and got a considerable amount of airtime on BBC radio stations. Murphy’s older albums and tracks also started gaining lots of traction online this year.

‘Roisin Machine’ was the first vinyl I had purchased in a long time and I think that was partially because of how great the album was but also for it’s fun and exciting album cover. 2020 has been a great year for disco revival albums such as ‘What’s your pleasure’ by Jessie Ware and ‘Disco’ by Kylie Minogue. ‘Roisin Machine’ was a huge success with extremely positive critical reviews. If you don’t feel like sitting through this whole album or want to hear a bit first, just listen to ‘Narcissus’ and I promise you, you WILL want to hear more.

Photo: Roisin Murphy, Skint, BMG

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4. Ichiko Aoba – ‘Windswept Adan (アダンの風)’

I already wrote a piece about my thoughts on this album which you can find by clicking here.

I will summarise my thoughts here about the album. Windswept Adan is the seventh studio album by Japanese folk singer Ichiko Aoba, Aoba has gained lots of attention in the west over the past couple of years for previous projects such as qp. Aoba’s album creates this beautiful ambience and each song features graceful vocals and breathtakingly beautiful instrumentals that help solidify this project as one of the best albums of this year.

Photo: Ichiko Aoba

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

3. Bladee – ‘333’

‘333’ is the third studio album by Swedish rapper, singer song-writer and record producer Bladee. Bladee is a member of artistic collective Drain Gang, and rose to fame for his cloud rap music posted to twitter and gained notability for his 2014 mixtape ‘Gluee’. 

‘333’ opens with the short but emotional track ‘Wings in motion’. Bladee’s discography usually consists of songs with lots of production however ‘Wings in motion’ opts for instead, simple acoustic guitar line, various other quiet backing instruments and raw and emotive vocals from Bladee. Just like all his other projects, Bladee’s lyrics are very personal and honest.

Photo: Bladee, YEAR0001

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

2. Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Punisher’

In 2017, Phoebe Bridgers released her fantastic debut album ‘Stranger in the Alps’. The album received lots of praise from critics and tracks like ‘Motion sickness’ garnered lots of attention online, riding this wave of acclaim and success, lots of hype was building around ‘Punisher’ online and Bridgers definitely did not disappoint.

The first two commercial singles for the album were ‘Garden Song’ and ‘Kyoto’ and were both huge successes. ‘Kyoto’ was originally supposed to have a music video filmed in Japan but due to current world circumstances was instead filmed in front of a green screen. 

Some of the other stand out songs from the album include ‘I Know The End’, a powerful and emotive closer the album which gradually builds up into an orchestral epic and ends with Bridgers and previous collaborators such as Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Conor Oberst screaming and shouting the line ‘The End Is Here’.

Photo: Dead Oceans, Phoebe Bridgers

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

1.Fiona Apple – ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’

Following her critically acclaimed 2012 project, ‘The Idler Wheel…’, Fiona Apple has been fairly quiet. When Apple announced in one of her first interviews in almost 7 years, that the album was almost complete, fans eagerly awaited more news. In March near the start of lockdowns, Apple announced that the album would launch April 17th as digital only. The album opening to extremely positive critical reviews with pitchfork giving the album a 10/10, the first perfect score from them in almost a decade. ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ currently sits at a 98/100 average critical score on Metacritic, solidifying it as one of the highest rated albums of all time. 

‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ opens with the powerful ‘I Want You To Love Me’, a beautiful love song carried by a sense of yearning and longing. Apple’s writing has always been praised and her lyricism is just as strong as ever on this album. Tracks like ‘For Her’ manage to use shockingly and emotive lines to help create an open conversation about tough issues such as sexual assault and inspire hope for victims. ‘Cosmonauts’ is one of the stand out tracks, the song was originally proposed for Judd Apatow’s ‘This is 40’ movie but Fiona’s song ‘dull tool’ was chosen instead. ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ is filled with many charming moments too such as Cara Delevingne making cat noises, the barking of Apple’s dogs and a point on the final track where instead of cutting her mistake she leaves in an exert from the studio of her simply exclaiming “Fuck, Shit, Ah”. Fiona Apple’s ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ is brilliant, it’s fantastic storytelling, powerful and emotive lyrics and passionate vocals, easily makes it my album of the year.

Photo: Fiona Apple, Epic, Clean Slate

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Words by Alex Herron.

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