Music is practically the most fit example of subjectivity, and I think that’s one of the best things about it. Different ears can hear the same music and create such distinct and personalized meanings within them. In a song where I feel some edgy form of teenage sadness, someone else might feel inexplicable joy. It’s that kind of funny little oxymoron in meaning that makes music feel so alive, personal, and moving.
To be honest, I’ve never been one to love full-on albums. I feel like it’s so much easier to love chapters rather than entire books. But in the age of 2020, where everything has felt so unreal and backwards, I have had time to forget the world and immerse myself in a few chapter books that I’ve ended up really connecting with.These are some standouts that I decided to make an exception for.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite albums of 2020.
1. Set My Heart On Fire Immediately by Perfume Genius
This delicate and gut wrenching album gave me a true awakening. This is a collection of songs made up of memories, dreams of falling in love at night, feeling oh so widely awake, sinking deeper into your reality, and making new life-altering realizations. It transcends a lot of introspective music that I’ve heard in the past. I have listened to “On The Floor” daily for the past few months, it is able to touch my heart unlike any other song. “Whole Life,” “Jason,” and “Moonbend” are some other album highlights.
2. Orca by Gus Dapperton
“I’ve been saying the motto and the mission statement for the album is that everyone one and everything has the ability to hurt. Everyone has the ability to heal and everyone has the ability to help. It’s me defining what my beliefs are.” - Gus Dapperton on Orca
The tracks from this album are the songs you hear in those deep kinds of indie films that touch your soul and make you remember why you’re living in the first place. With Dapperton’s signature voice, grainy and thick with emotion, this is more teeth-grinding indie rock than the sounds he’s been known for, and the new sound fits him so well. This album has also been shooting him into the limelight with his appearance on Jimmy Fallon happening earlier this month. This is a guy that’s about to blow up the music scene, and one of the ones deserving of it.
3. Forward Motion Godyssey by Post Animal
I got tickets to see this band live in March before the pan***ic, and I’m really hoping that opportunity comes my way again. Their modern psychedelia sound is something reminiscent of some 80s-Tron Gameplay soundtrack mixed with some elements of harder garage band rock. “Schedule,” “Fitness,” and “Post Animal” are some of my favorites from this album.
4. The Slow Rush by Tame Impala
Kevin Parker has always been consistent in his production of quality tracks, but his sound proves to be a little different each time. With each album, he seems to be submerging himself deeper into a cult-indie pop subgenre. This album is his most pop-filled record yet and does not disappoint. With quality tracks like “One More Year,” “Lost In Yesterday,” and “Is It True,” this album easily makes my list.
5. The New Abnormal by The Strokes
The Strokes have continued to churn out quality alternative music since their start in 1998. Their anarchist music has stayed consistently popular among young people in particular because of the “teenager-in-love-in-the-middle-of-an-anarchist-revolution” vibes. This album is no different, preaching stories of youth, acceptance, and growing up but never old, accompanied with mellow guitar and drum tracks. “Ode To The Mets” “Brooklyn Bride To Chorus” “Selfless” are some of my favorite picks.
6. Dreamland by Glass Animals
Glass Animals have created a multidimensional masterpiece with this 2020 album. The first track of the album “Dreamland” is a homage to the memories of the past, a look back. From there, each song takes time reliving a memory. In “Tangerine” singer Dave Bayley sings of a lover who has changed beyond recognition. The rest of the album proves to be full of spirit, with tracks “Tokyo Drifting” and “Your Love (Deja Vu)” being some of the most lively.
7. Zeros by Declan Mckenna
Declan Mckenna continues to prove he’s a star on the rise with this new album. “Eventually, Darling” tells a story of a lover missing his ex, thinking existential thoughts about life on a balcony. “Rapture” is a sort of dance-worthy song built on future fears. “Be An Astronaut” and “Beautiful Faces” are also beautifully written pieces.
8. Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez by Gorillaz
The Gorillaz are another group with lots of quality experience in the music industry. On their newest album they feature artists from the likes of the alternative artist Beck, the iconic Elton John, U.K. grime artist Skepta, indie artist St. Vincent and more. “The Pink Phantom,” “Aries,” “Dead Butterflies,” and “Momentary Bliss” are some of my personal favorites from this album.
9. Circles by Mac Miller
This hip-hop album, released posthumously after the early death of Mac Miller, holds a special place in a lot of Miller’s fans' hearts. It’s so raw and tortured, and I almost feel like I’m getting a peek into some journal Miller kept during his life, one that’s way up close and personal. “Good News” and “Blue World” are some of my favorites, both hinting at some of Miller’s personal traumas.
10. Future Past Life by STRFKR
STRFKR has been some of the background music of my life since “Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second.” Their synth pop/lo-fi sound is consistently catchy, but unlike other pop artists, always with a story or a purpose. Future Past Life is different, with multiple tracks undoubtedly appear on my Spotify top song list this December.
11. Visions of Bodies Being Burned by clipping.
This 16-track release takes inspiration from horror films to create a terror-fueled collection of stories and sounds, some more “spooky campfire story” in nature, and others all too real. “Check the Lock” is an homage to Seagram’s “Sleepin in My Nikes,” about a drug lord’s descent into paranoid madness. “Say the Name” pays tribute to a collection of the trio’s favorite horror films. The producers really show off in this album to create a horror concept album worthy of remembering in years to come.
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