Intensely personal work swelled into large-scale statements this year, and women often led the way, revealing scars left by different kinds of emotional and political skirmishes, and reinforcing that their voices must be heard. Music, that is. —Stefanie Fernández. Green Day - Father Of All Motherfuckers. (Read the round table; hear the Popcast. This new release was all about the beat: Like Joni Mitchell with Hejira or Kate Bush on The Dreaming, throughout Bolt Cutters Apple explored and refined her relationship to rhythm, bolstering her poetic expressiveness. ), Run the Jewels — Killer Mike and El-P — uphold a worthy, now-vintage style of hip-hop, with densely and aggressively produced tracks and rhymes that are declaimed rather than moaned, for songs that address broader issues between boasts. The rhyme raiders. Our annual list of favourite new albums is a reflection of the last 12 months within the Rough Trade community. (Read the review.). The momentum hardly ever lets up on “RTJ4”; the problems it targets have been all too vivid in 2020. (Read the review. 50. Pop Smoke’s posthumous “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon” was a consistent hit this year. Our top album of the year, Taylor Swiftâs Folklore, reflected that feeling in its stark, elegant intimacy. A complex and macabre cantata, the 35-minute work stars the ghostly figure of death who dances, in turn, with all strata of society, from the pope on down to an innocent infant. Pimienta's subversion of pageantry is always accompanied by a deep sense of its costs. “The Steps” and “Gasoline” are stomping rockers worthy of vintage Sheryl Crow, “3 AM” recasts the Haim sisters as a sassy R&B girl group, the rootsy “I’ve Been Down” would have killed as an encore at Lilith Fair. Her unexpected steps form a new path for any listener to follow toward self-awareness. Fleet Foxes, Shore. (Read the profile; watch the Diary of a Song.). Her unexpected quarantine-era alliance with Aaron Dessner of the National deliberately and gorgeously blurs the crisp contours of her past songwriting. Bad Bunny only waited about four years. (Read the feature.). —Rodney Carmichael, In just four years, Phoebe Bridgers has launched three different major projects — a solo career, plus the bands Better Oblivion Community Center and boygenius — while perfecting a distinct sound palette and songwriting voice. (Read the feature.). Post Malone, The Weeknd & More Early Front-Runners for Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammys Perhaps you want a rap album like Lil Uzi Vert 's â¦ Spillage Village is the spiritual inheritance of that era's most valuable prayers. Lili Trifilio writes chirpy songs about awful sadness. The songwriter and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow calls herself Jyoti — a name bestowed on her by Alice Coltrane — for her forays into jazz. View Comments. (Read the feature. In fact, his intimate sharing about the warping of pivotal relationships in his life abounds in a thoroughly earthy kind of profundity. —Kiana Fitzgerald, NPR's 50 Best Albums Of 2020  50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1. “I knew everything when I was young,” Swift sings. ), “When you are young they assume you know nothing,” quoth Taylor Swift, age 31. It’s regal, an announcement of an alpha figure asserting his primacy. (Read the review. As a result, her songs feel like transmissions from a ruefully funny friend; they're warm and inviting, even when she's reflecting on hospital traffic and serial killers. 3. The best debut album of the year, Rina Sawayamaâs first record is unafraid to present the many paradoxes that exist, not only in her life, but life in general. Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and exhaustion that piled up like soil falling over our heads? Hereâs our unranked rundown of the yearâs most noteworthy releases. —Nate Chinen (WBGO), From the moment Bad Bunny's sophomore album begins, over a synthesized interpolation of bossa nova staple "The Girl From Ipanema," the Puerto Rican superstar leans heavily on past classics to breathe new life into Latin trap. The bitter, furious single he released soon after nonviolent anti-corruption protesters were killed by soldiers, “20 10 20,” made a compelling postscript. To be eligible, it has to have at least five new full songs and be 15 minutes long or be 30 â¦ 50. And apparently being inhabitants of such an insular, otherwise ignored scene prepared them well for this national lockdown. 4. And less than two weeks after “SIGN” appeared, Autechre suddenly released another hour of music on the more aggressively disorienting “PLUS.” (Read the interview.). By weaving spoken-word interludes with fully developed songs, SAULT ensures listeners are feeling every possible level of the revolutionary messaging embedded in the project. Carried by these noisy grooves, Apple could say even more than she'd ever said before, about putting up with bad men, romantic abjection and self-abandonment; about being bullied by girls and being taught to hate other women; about living with depression and nearly dying from the hunger for love. The songs avenge and exorcise all sorts of slights and traumas, distant and recent, mixing spite with amusement. —Jewly Hight (WNXP 91.ONE), Few make rapping sound as purely fun as Lil Uzi Vert. Drew Anthony Smith for The New York Times. The year in music: The 9 best Jersey albums of 2020. What if the guy who wrote great, smart party songs also excelled at devastating heartbreak anthems? The diligent duo that never rests. —Tom Huizenga, When folk ask me what it was like covering Atlanta hip-hop in the last decade, it ain't the get-it-out-the-mud trap originators or the city's second-gen innovators that come to mind. Katie Crutchfield, who records as Waxahatchee, released an album featuring some of her most evocative lyrics. (Read the round table; hear the Popcast. In its mission to cover the gamut of emotions that come with the Black experience in 2020, SAULT runs wild sonically; in some places, you'll find lo-fi hip-hop ("Stop Dem"), in others, moving soul ("Wildfires") or spaced-out electro funk ("Bow"). El Conejo is, for the most part, done missing his ex jeva for now — instead he's dressing up as his female alter ego to call out creeps at the club, de-stigmatizing a particular romantic pursuit on a perreo-fueled symphony, and rocking out to his own success on an emo-trap anthem. At every turn, she's quotable — not only in richly explanatory turns of phrase, but also in simple statements that stuff massive feelings into blunt, concise moments: "You hold me just like water in your hands." It's an album steeped in nostalgia for the garage-party-perreo of the early-aughts, but with a modernity that forecasts a bright future for urbano — even one that may find Bad Bunny (if you believe the album title) permanently tapping out. Code Orange set the bar almost impossibly high for themselves with 2017's Forever, our pick for the best album of that year. ), The Nigerian songwriter Burna Boy calls his music Afro-fusion, not the more specifically Nigerian term Afrobeats, and “Twice as Tall” lives up to that broader mandate with a profusion of sleek, diverse, constantly inventive grooves that traverse Africa and its diaspora. Over several years, she'd invited a small inventive band into her home to bang on walls and pots and her dead dog's bones. But from the beginning, Bridgers' sensibility has been instantly identifiable: dark, swirling, interior, morbid but playful, unnervingly specific in its narrative details. YHLQMDLG is an homage to the reggaeton bangers that raised Bunny, complete with collabs from some of the greatest vets in the game, including Daddy Yankee, Ñengo Flow and Jowell & Randy. (Read the profile; hear the Popcast. "It don't matter how high," a singer reassures us in "Miracles," an album highlight. Yet moment to moment in Autechre’s algorithmic realm, anything can happen. ), Mortality looms on “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” but it only makes Bob Dylan, 79, more ornery. Whatever your taste, the best 50 albums from this year have something for everyone. If you donât know Polo G, we suggest you correct the situation immediately. The international symbol for the year 2020 was the surprise emoji. Suzanne Cordeiro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, Mike Hadreas, who records as Perfume Genius, explores a complex spectrum of queer desire on “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.”, Jessie Reyez, “Before Love Came to Kill Us”. The music touches down in slow-motion R&B, but moves toward abstractions — orchestral, jazzy, electronic — as Sumney ponders solitude and connection, masculinity and identity, self-doubt and self-realization, existence and transcendence. What if the most innovative mainstream Nashville performer was also the most reverent of tradition? Taylor Swift â âfolkloreâ. And when she sings about lost love, she now admits that she shares both blame and regrets. —Isabella Gomez Sarmiento, This extraordinary album, which features the Boston Symphony Orchestra in debut recordings of an effervescent piano concerto and a dark, massive work for voices and orchestra, represents for me, the joy and horror of its late February release date. For a year that teetered much of the time on the verge of total shutdown, 2020 saw the release of a lot of very good music. The agitators. Read this list. Phalanxes of synthesizers, programmed beats and sturdy pop melodies fortify Sufjan Stevens and his gentle voice as he contemplates America in turmoil. (Read the review; hear the Popcast. On duets like the soaring “Kerosene!” and the slinky “Strawberry Privilege,” masculine and feminine energies mingle and detach from their earthbound bodies, their eventual combustion giving way to plenty more interesting byproducts. Chris Jordan. Five albums into her visionary career, Apple remained deeply committed to pushing herself lyrically and vocally. A year of cancelled tour dates allowed Swift to make an album without having to consider the nosebleed seats. On release, they were heard privately. I binged on Adès' rambunctious concerto, performed with extroverted virtuosity by Kirill Gerstein, for weeks. The collective — consisting of the duo EarthGang, J.I.D., 6lack, Mereba, Jurdan Bryant and producers Hollywood JB and Benji — hunkered down in a crib on the city's westside and went to work. Ware revels in the textures of the producer James Ferraro’s showroom of vintage synths, conjuring the no-wave cool of ESG as deftly as the glimmer of Minneapolis funk. Charli XCX was one of the first pop musicians to make an album entirely in quarantine. What if careful, syllable-by-syllable songwriting held hands with clever concepts and intuitive, sticky melodies? “Picture me in the trees, before I learned civility,” she invites on the memory-scape “Seven,” a sophisticated piano bringing gravitas to the childlike playfulness of her lyrics. 'Cause Spilligion is just that: A vaccine for lost souls living through the pandemic long before coronavirus hit. 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