It’s been a strange old year so far, but let’s focus on the good stuff for a moment. We’re only three and bit months in and already we’ve heard some absolutely belting albums, coming not just from artists we’ve loved for ages but some bright new kids on the block, too. If you’re looking for a distraction and you haven’t already got stuck into the albums below, well, you know what to do… 2020 ain’t so bad after all. Here, in no particular order, are the releases that we’ve been digging so far…
1J Hus – ‘Big Conspiracy’
The NME review said: “A wiser and more subdued J Hus occupies ‘Big Conspiracy’. It’s a more rounded project with polished edges that sparkle in parts; a perfect counterweight to the introspective lyrics throughout.”
Key tracks: ‘Repeat’, ‘Fight For Your Right’.
2Georgia – ‘Seeking Thrills’
The NME review said: “A jubilant celebration of the dancefloor… not quite picture perfect, but the Londoner’s second album captures the push and pull of the club with a writerly eye.”
Key tracks: ‘About Work On The Dancefloor’, ‘Ray Gun’.
3Poppy – ‘I Disagree’
The NME review said: “A very modern pop star sheds her satirical skin… she’s dropped the act and turned in an album that’s more metal than pop, that remains fundamentally true.”
Key tracks: ‘Concrete’, ‘BLOODMONEY’.
4Riz Ahmed – ‘The Long Goodbye’
The NME review said: “There is an earnest urgency to Riz Ahmed’s rhymes. He aims to tackle colonisation, indentured labour, the early days of the British Raj, racism and xenophobia, tying it all within the context of being brown in Britain today. Riz’s pointed lyrics are barbed wires with which he scales topics.”
Key tracks: ‘Any Day’, ‘Fast Lava’.
5Alexandra Savior – ‘The Archer’
The NME review said: “Vivid coolness and cinematic melancholia… the ascendent American indie star’s auteurist vision comes to life across this B-movie-inspired artistic triumph.”
Key tracks: ‘Crying All The Time’, ‘Howl’.
6The Big Moon – ‘Walking Like We Do’
The NME review said: “Zippy guitars and knotted harmonies meet electronic whirrs and propulsive, disco-lite beats as the London four-piece enter a new, exciting phase.”
Key tracks: ‘Your Light’, ‘It’s Easy Then’.
7Mura Masa – ‘R.Y.C’
The NME review said: “A scrapbook of confusion, anxiety and nostalgia that provides no clear answers – apathy or humour, pick your poison – but remains an authentic and relatable listen through to its honesty.”
Key tracks: ‘Deal Wiv It’, ‘Teenage Headache Dreams’.
8Blossoms – ‘Foolish Loving Spaces’
What NME said: “For the doubters and sceptics still on the fence, this album might prove even more enjoyable and surprising. Only a fool would deny themselves this collection of big pop bangers.”
Key tracks: ‘If You Think This Is Real Life’, ‘The Keeper’
9Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Ordinary Man’
The NME review said: “Ozzy Osbourne is having an absolute ball on ‘Ordinary Man’, and he’s not afraid to explore corners of the graveyard he’s hitherto untouched.”
Key tracks: ‘It’s A Raid’, ‘Ordinary Man’.
10Soccer Mommy – ‘Color Theory’
The NME review said: “‘Color Theory’ is split into three, with each section signified by a different colour… The grouping of songs makes for a mature, brilliant album that wields its power over three distinct movements.”
Key tracks: ‘Circle The Drain’, ‘Crawling In My Skin’.
11Grimes – ‘Miss Anthropocene’
The NME review said: “Grimes proves herself once again to be the master of her own destiny, refusing to let any outside forces steer her from the course she’s chosen for herself. It’s a record stuffed with imagination and packed with beauty.”
Key tracks: ‘IDORU’, ‘Delete Forever’.
12King Krule – ‘Man Alive!’
The NME review said: “Fresh from escaping London and becoming a father, a renewed and refreshed Archy Marshall has produced the most uplifting King Krule album yet.”
Key tracks: ‘Stoned Again’, ‘Don’t Let The Dragon (Draag On)’.
13Tame Impala – ‘The Slow Rush’
The NME review said: “This album simply sounds phenomenal. The production, sound design and creative instrumentation are genuinely outstanding throughout – nobody does it better than our Kev… This band aren’t rock music’s saviours; they’re so much more than that.”
Key tracks: ‘Lost In Yesterday’, ‘Posthumous Forgiveness’.
14Moses Boyd – ‘Dark Matter’
The NME review said: “‘Dark Matter’ draws on such a melting-pot of genres and styles where complex jazz rhythms sit alongside electronica, dance, rock, grime and pop. Whilst its head leans towards the mathematical with its polymath rhythms and intricate structures, its heart is firmly on the dancefloor.”
Key tracks: ‘Shades of You’, ‘Only You’.
15The Weeknd – ‘After Hours’
The NME review said: ‘Instead of opting for either arena-filling hits or the shadowy downtempo tunes of his early releases, Abel Tesfaye instead switches between the two modes on ‘After Hours’, managing to produce his most all-encompassing record to date.”
Key tracks: ‘In Your Eyes’, ‘Snowchild’.
16Halsey – ‘Manic’
The NME review said: “By stripping back the stories to their very personal core, Halsey has made a record that is as thrilling as it is vulnerable, and her best effort yet. This is Ashley Frangipane’s world; it’s really nice to meet her.”
Key tracks: ‘Still Learning’, ‘929’.
17Childish Gambino – ‘3.15.20’
The NME review said: “Rap’s Renaissance man lets guard down with most personal record to date.”
Key tracks: ‘Feels Like Summer’, ‘32.22’.
18Caribou – ‘Suddenly’
The NME review said: “The more experimental and unsettling elements will reward longtime stans, while recent converts will be just as thrilled with its party-starting exuberance. What’s universally clear, however, is that 20 years into his career, Dan Snaith has found the perfect balance between intimate songwriting and extroverted sonic decisions.”
Key tracks: ‘Never Come Back’, ‘Home’.
19Dua Lipa – ‘Future Nostalgia’
What NME said: “The artist’s stunning second record tackles sex, inequality and empowerment. Future Nostalgia’ is a bright, bold collection of pop majesty to dance away your anxieties to… if only for a little while”
Key tracks: ‘Don’t Start Now’, ‘Break My Heart’
20Sorry – ‘925’
What NME said: “It’s the sound of a generation who are the heirs to fuck all, and – despite their feigned apathy – the frustration is straight from the heart.”
Key tracks: ‘Right Around The Clock’, ‘More’