Best of 2020 - The Album List

The year 2020 has been different in many ways and could not be compared to any of the recent years. The world stopped for a certain period of time, paralyzed by the global COVID-19 pandemic where the virus spread to all corners of the world leaving dificult consequences for the population everywhere. 
It certainly did affected the the music world in the sense that all major music events, festivals and concerts were cancelled until further notice. Only one global event was organised to support the World Health Organisation -One World: Together at Home- a benefit concert, organised by Global Citizen and curated by singer Lady Gaga whose objective was to promote the practice of social distancing while staying together during the COVID-19 pandemic and also support the medical staff all over the world.
On the quantity level of album and singles releases, it might have been less in offer this year but certainly not on its quality level. Every year has its own charm, no matter what is going on and the events that occurred this year events certainly influenced the artists and some of them have already integrated them in their music. 
Our Top 25 album list, is as always a festival of styles and genres and while this years saw some interesting new comers emerging on the music market, it also meant some happy returns and come backs. Hope you enjoy the Album list!



01. The Flaming Lips - American Head [Bella Union / Warner Bros] 
The Flaming Lips have returned with their 16th studio album American Head released through Bella Union in the UK and Warner Bros in the US. It seems that the band have returned to their winning formula of the late 90's and early 00's, focusing on the American roots producing symphonic psychedelic sound which could easily be treated as future Americana. The songs reveal a strong sense of melody by being freaky and tendering at the same time. There is also a drug connotation throughout the songs on the album, bringing the acid and psychedelic in front. Out of the seven songs which were released as singles, the outstanding are certainly "Will You Return", "Flowers of Neptune'' and "You N Me Sellin' Weed". 


02. Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure [PMR] 
What's Your Pleasure? is Jessie Ware's fourth studio album, released through PMR. The album includes 12 tracks out of which half of the songs were also released as singles. Overall this is a very uncomplicated, joyful and passionate electronic, dance album with a festival of sub genres and influences from all decades which flow into a nice cohesive package. At the same time the album marks Ware's return to her roots and moving away from the soul melancholy of the previous album. This album might not have been released in perfect timing, in the year of COVID-19 pandemic when all dance floors are sealed, still it feels like a time machine and a trip to better times with, a great staying power. Favorite tracks: “Spotlight”, “The Kill” and  “Remember Where You Are”.
   
03. Porridge Radio - Every Bad [Secretly Canadian] 
Porridge Radio is among the best newcomers this year and at the same time probably the best female fronted indie band in 2020. Every Bad is their second album and the first one on a big record label. Released through Secretly Canadian, the album contains eleven tracks, where each of the songs seems to be an interesting chamber of elements that harmonize with each other. In addition to the indie elements there is noise but it does not get too loud, there are synth accents, but it does not get too electronic. There is also a great emotional range to the lead singer’s voice which plays perfectly with all rhythm sections. Favorite tracks: “Born Confused”, “Sweet”, “Long”, and “Circling”. 

 
04. Fleet Foxes - Shore [Anti-] 
Fleet Foxes released their fourth studio album Shore in Fall this year. It was quite a surprise release for an album whose writing and recording started in 2018/2019 respectively, to be released only one day after the announcement. Beautiful as ever, bright, complex and accessible, this is how I would describe this nearly solo effort by the singer/songwriter Robin Pecknold. There is an autumn feel throughout the album and the feel of closing oneself in the deep drift away against the existential worry of 2020. It is the same vein as their debut album, the finest range from baroque pop to the 60’s spacey folk. Favorite tracks: “Shore”, “Sunblind” and “Maestranza”.  

 
05. Linea Aspera - LP II [self released] 
Linea Aspera has surprised us all this year with the reunion and the release of a brand second album which comes eight years after their debut album release. The duo Alison Lewis and Ryan Ambridge split after the debut album release but never really stopped making music, moreover continued exploring new dimensions and grounds with their solo projects. Their second album comes with a similar recipe of songs as their debut but even more perfected and crafted. LPII is dark, scientific and emotional with great analogue production against Lewis' intense vocal delivery. Different from 2012, when Minimal Wave and Synth pop were closer to  mainstream, this year this record feels more like a loner in its genre and certainly the best Minimal Wave album of 2020. Track highlights: “Solar Flare”, “Equilibrium” and “Entanglement”. 

 
06. Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today [Domino] 
The Detroit based Protomartyr released their fifth studio album Ultimate Success Today this year, their second Domino release following the critically acclaimed Relatives in Descent. Using the Post-punk as foundation for their sound the band continues to deliver good quality production songs feeding in the misfortunes of the modern world like sadness, anger and aggression. Even though the themes might be sinister and dark, the band manages to deliver quite an involving sound with guitars that shine on. The input of the session musicians on saxophone and clarinet even more contribute to the diversity of sound. Even though this record was recorded before 2020, it is probably the loudest and most fitting album to the COVID 20 soundtrack. 

 
07. Groove Armada - Edge of the Horizon [BMG Rights Management] 
The duo has released their ninth studio album this year. Edge of the Horizon comes as a 10 years anniversary to Black Light which was also our Album of the Year in 2010. It seems that the band has decided once again to leave the club friendly tech house behind and to grant us with another great synth pop album. This also pretty much goes back to the 80’s taking some influences from the hiNrg and early Italo disco underground styles. Similar as on Black Light, this album features an interesting array of collaborations which completes the overall good LP experience. The album features the hit singles “Get Out on the Dancefloor” and “Love 4 Now”, but probably the stand out is the title track "Edge of the Horizon".
   
08. The Killers - Imploding the Mirage [Island / Virgin EMI] 
The Killers released their sixth studio album Imploding The Mirage this year and with this record they have returned to our radar for the first time since Sam’s Town. This new album brings some changes both in the line up and in the music style, trafficking in Americana, catchy synth hooks and the Springsteen influence all together. It deals pretty well with every day themes and the pop-heartland-epic input makes it quite accessible. The album also features some interesting collaborations including k. d. lang, Weyes Blood, Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) and Adam Granduciel (The War on Drugs). Four singles were released from the album including the catchy the “My Own’s Soul Warning”.
   
09. Working Men’s Club - Working Men’s Club [Heavenly] 
Working Men’s Club is among the best newcomers in 2020 and also one of the best debut albums in this year. The band actually started releasing singles in 2019 with a different line up and this year brought the change in lineup and the sound perspective and the band adopted more electronic influences including shades of the early 80’s underground synthpop and early 90’s alternative dance. The record’s dynamic course is kept by the raving energy, a synth-guitar criss cross against the industrial lead. The outstanding tracks are of course the first single “Valley”, “Tomorrow” and “Angel". 

 
10. Cindy - I’m Cindy [World of Paint] 
With I’m Cindy, we enter the DIY territory and home base of the producer Palbomen II who started recording music around 2015. Focused on the fictional character Cindy Savalas portrayed by the actress Blue LoLãn, he recorded around thirty pieces in his home studio in Belgium in 2019 and some of them were even picked for the Memories of Cindy release. This album is set in a cold and dark synth pop setting and through out the 13 tracks, it explores different episodes in the life of Cindy Savalis where she sings about her mom, her boyfriend Justin, her cat and other personal sides of her life. Stand out tracks: “Boy Friend”, “Never Let Me Go” and “2Y and 6M”. 

11. Nation of Language - Introduction, Presence [Not on Label] 
12. Coldbeat - Mother [DFA] 
13. Kleerup - 2 [U, OK] 
14. Active Child - In Another Life [Sony Masterworks] 
15. The Orelles - Disco Volador [Heavenly] 
16. Perfume Genious - Set My Heart on Fire Immediately [Matador] 
17. The Strokes - The New Abnormal [Cult] 
18. Riki - Riki [Dais] 
19. Doves - The Universal Want [Virgin] 
20. Tame Impala - The Slow Rush [Modular] 
21. Georgia - Seeking Thrills [Domino] 
22. Muzz - Muzz [Matador] 
23. I Break Horses - Warnings [Bella Union] 
24. Alice Boman - Dream on [Adrian] 
25. Of Montreal - Ur Fun [Polyvinyl]

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