The NME Shop is here, teeming with merch, gear and of course music – including some of the most vital records of 2020 far, from long-anticipated comebacks to bold, statement-making debuts.
Here are eight of the best albums of the year you can add to your cart right now.
Fiona Apple, ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’
After nearly eight years away, Fiona Apple has stormed back into the fold with ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’. The album finds the inimitable singer-songwriter, seated at her trusty piano, in fierce form – remembering a middle-school classmate on ‘Shameika’, singing about depression on ‘Heavy Balloon’ and brutal misogyny on ‘For Her’. Throughout, Apple’s lyrics and cadences remain utterly distinct, marking ‘Fetch The Bolt Cutters’ as a singular record.
Yaeji, ‘What We Drew’
Korean-American producer Kathy Lee has finally followed up her 2017 breakout ‘EP2’ and its banging centrepiece ‘Raingurl’. On the dreamy new mixtape ‘What We Drew’, Yaeji playfully widens her sonic horizons and invites her friends along for the ride. Their laid-back contributions to the record – especially on ‘Free Interlude’ and ‘The Thing’ – make ‘What We Drew’ feel like a warm, inviting house party. And did we mention this mixtape is also Yaeji’s first release on vinyl?
Beabadoobee, ‘Fake It Flowers’
Beabadoobee’s bringing ’90s rock back. NME cover star Bea Kristi has embraced her love of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. and turned out her debut album ‘Fake It Flowers’, a hooky, heart-on-sleeve collection of guitar gems written in her bedroom. This record might just be the beginning of a long and fruitful career for Beabadoobee.
Angel Olsen, ‘Whole New Mess’
Last year, Angel Olsen released the grand ‘All Mirrors’, an orchestral epic that matched the singer-songwriter’s vastness of feeling with billowing string arrangements. Her 2020 album ‘Whole New Mess’ features the same songs on that record, but in drastically different form. Olsen is in a similar mode as she was on her 2014 breakout ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’ – alone with her guitar, her songs and her emotions.
Tame Impala, ‘The Slow Rush’
With ‘The Slow Rush’, Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker properly pivots away from psych rock box. The long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s ‘Currents’ eschews big riffs à la ‘Elephant’ or even ‘The Less I Know The Better’, turning towards sumptuous melanges of synths, keyboards and meticulously programmed drums. The layers of sound on ‘The Slow Rush’ make it a must-listen – especially on vinyl.
Thundercat, ‘It Is What It Is’
Besides being one of the most talented bassists today, Thundercat might also be one of the funniest – one peek at his social media accounts (or the music video for ‘Dragonball Durag’) is enough to tell you that.
But Stephen Bruner has spent plenty of time staring into the abyss, synthesising his melancholy and pain into funky, jazzy songs that don’t sacrifice complexity for appeal. Resignation permeates ‘It Is What It Is’, peaking on the beautifully mournful ‘Fair Chance’, a collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B that’s also a tribute to the late Mac Miller.
.gif, ‘Hail Nothing’
.gif, the Singapore electronic duo of Weish and Din, returned in April with their sophomore album ‘Hail Nothing’. The follow-up to their debut album ‘Soma’ is an icy, austere collection of trip-hop named after an Ernest Hemingway line (“Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee,” from the short story A Clean Well Lighted Place). .gif’s craft shines through in these meticulously arranged and produced songs, demonstrating why they’re one of the city-state’s most acclaimed musicians.
The 1975, ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’
The 1975’s fourth studio album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ is the British band’s most sprawling yet. It opens with a clear-eyed assessment of our broken world by climate activist Greta Thunberg, and pulls searing arena anthems (‘People’), hissing electronica (‘Shiny Collarbone’) and acoustic balladry (‘Playing On My Mind’) into its ambitious scope. The road to ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ was paved with delays, but the album more than makes up for the wait.