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Top 25 Albums of 2020 (So Far)

on June 22, 2020, 2:00am
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25. Grimes – Miss Anthropocene

Grimes - Miss Antropocene

Origin: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Gist: It’s been five years since Grimes delivered Art Angels and recalibrated alternative pop for the better of humankind. Since then, it’s been a Byzantine story for the Canadian singer-songwriter (and for anyone who’s been interested enough to follow), one full of teases, snippets, collaborations, disagreements, love, and, ultimately, new life. Now, here we are, some five years later, and Grimes is with Elon Musk, has a child, and a fifth studio album in Miss Anthropocene.

Why It Rocks: Grimes thrives in the complexities. Like Art Angels, each track demands a subreddit of its own to detail its melange of genres and sounds, all of which demand repeat listens from now until the sun becomes as black as sack cloth and the moon turns to blood. Speak of the devil, Miss Anthropocene is similarly dark, pushing Grimes into apocalyptic territory as she ruminates on human extinction. Hey, gimme death any day if it sounds this good. –Michael Roffman

Essential Tracks: “Delete Forever”, “Violence”, and “4ÆM”

Pick up the album here.

24. Jeff Rosenstock – NO DREAM

Jeff Rosenstock No Dream Top 25 Albums of 2020 (So Far)

Origin: Long Island, New York

The Gist: Jeff Rosenstock released No Dream via Polyvinyl Records smack dab in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, a complete surprise to just about everyone. This isn’t out of the ordinary for Rosenstock; he did the exact same thing with his last record in 2018, sans pandemic, of course.

Why It Rocks: No Dream, as a whole, is pure, unadulterated fun. Rosenstock’s raucous, hyper energy shines, reminiscent of early-2000’s pop punk on tracks like opener “NO TIME” and “***BNB”, a sound that has proven to be timeless, and for good reason. The lead single, “Scram!” is, quite frankly, catchy as hell and would be a blast to sing along to at a live show. Hopefully, we can all do that one day, preferably sooner than later. –Annie Black

Essential Tracks: “Scram!”, “f a m e”, and “State Line”

Pick up the album here.

23. BTS – Map of the Soul: 7

BTS - Map of the Soul 7

Origin: Seoul, South Korea

The Gist: Hopefully, we’re past the cultural point of wondering how BTS became the biggest pop group in the world and ready to look more closely at why they are so deserving of that title and what it means to be in that position. These are some of the ideas the group themselves are working out on their latest full-length release, Map of the Soul: 7. Following last year’s EP, Map of the Soul: Persona, the group continue to borrow their album titles from psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theories of the self. This time around, the group are incorporating ideas of the Ego and Shadow throughout the album. The first five songs before “Interlude : Shadow” are tracks from Persona, but the 15 songs that follow are new to fans, spanning the wide variety of genres and influences — from trap and R&B to pop ballads and hip-hop — that the group have become known for.

Why It Rocks: BTS are both the world’s biggest and most interesting act in pop music right now: 7 solidifies this position and smartly looks towards the future. Their cultural impact is undeniable, and their work continues to push forward conversations about genre, language, and much more. There’s no telling what BTS will do next, but that’s what’s so compelling. –Hanna Zwick

Essential Tracks: “Interlude : Shadow”, “Black Swan”, and “UGH!”

Pick up the album here.

22. Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist – Alfredo

Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist Alfredo Top 25 Albums of 2020 (So Far)

Origin: Gary, Indiana, and Beverly Hills, California

The Gist: It was just a short year ago that Freddie Gibbs found himself riding high off Bandana, his second major collaboration with producer Madlib and arguably his finest output yet. Less than a calendar year later, he threatens to top that masterpiece with yet another, this time teaming up with The Alchemist, whom Gibbs partnered with on Fetti, a 2018 split album with Curren$y.

Why It Rocks: In a year where a lot of hip-hop headlines have chased names like Eminem, Run the Jewels, Jay Electronica, and even a late Mac Miller (R.I.P.) — and not without good reason — it’s important to remember that workmanlike names like Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist keep doing what they do with or without the fanfare. Alfredo finds Gibbs bruising over ominous beats (“God Is Perfect”) and more soulful arrangements (“Something to Rap About”) alike, flexing his many muscles as an emcee while occasionally swapping verses with names like Tyler, The Creator, Rick Ross, and Benny the Butcher. While Gibbs and The Alchemist may not get the same ink as others, the quality they inject into track after track continues to outshine flashier contemporaries. –Matt Melis 

Essential Tracks: “Something to Rap About” (ft. Tyler, the Creator), “God Is Perfect”, and “Scottie Beam”

Pick up the album here.

21. Beach Bunny – Honeymoon

Beach Bunny Honeymoon Album Cover Stream Track by Track

Origin: Chicago, Illinois

The Gist: Following a quartet of EPs and some unexpected TikTok popularity, Beach Bunny were big enough to land spots at their hometown’s Lollapalooza and Riot Fest. Not long after, the band signed with beloved indie label Mom + Pop and booked time in Steve Albini’s Electric Audio studios. Led by Lili Trifilio, the group’s full-length debut, Honeymoon, dropped appropriately on Valentine’s Day, instantly winning our hearts.

Why It Rocks: Looking at the rest of this list, it’s clear — and understandable — that there’s a certain “type” of album that really sticks out in 2020. Honeymoon isn’t the charged, soul-searching effort that dominates the current conversation. It is instead a relatively simple, sincere recounting of the highs and lows of young romance. And it nails those feelings to the wall with flawlessly aimed pop punk. The insecurity of self-worth (“Rearview”), the agony of unrequited affection (“Ms. California”), the bliss of proper love (“Cloud 9”) — the full gamut is run with such perfect sweetness that re-listening to even the most “emo” moments is a joy. February seems like such an innocent time compared to June, but there’s a reason we named Beach Bunny our Artist of the Month back then, and we haven’t forgotten it. — Ben Kaye

Essential Tracks: “Dream Boy”, “Rearview”, and “Promises”

Pick up the album here.

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