–Simon Reynolds, Listen/Buy: Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal, The opening notes of Lyra Pramuk’s debut album, Fountain, are like a slow tracking shot through the gates of a musical Atlantis. The 10 Best Albums of 2020. As ever with late-period Dylan albums, death lurks in every corner: as a prompt for bloody, Frankenstein-ish experiments in “My Own Version of You,” a red river to be traversed in “Crossing the Rubicon,” a body who shares his bed in “I Contain Multitudes,” a nameless rival in “Black Rider.” The gravity of Dylan’s voice and the clarity of his vision allow him to address these wraiths as an equal, one with intimate knowledge of the darkness they inhabit. –Quinn Moreland, Jean-Sebastian Audet understands that drifting is sometimes the best way forward. After a decade as one of the most revered bands in their genre, the L.A. group recorded Lament with heavy music legend Ross Robinson and an abundance of songwriting ambition. Death and apocalypse lurk in every corner of Punisher—lightning flashes, sirens wail, a Giants fan gets killed at Dodger Stadium—and Bridgers shuffles through this ominous fog, still alive, still growing taller. When he does allow himself some of the stereotypical earnestness of the folk-singer mode, on the moving and tender “What Kind of Person,” it’s with the deft misdirection of a veteran magician. Check out all of Pitchfork’s 2020 wrap-up coverage here. –Quinn Moreland, Like the modern conditions it reflects, No Home’s music holds unavoidable ugliness: Each song is an anxious, staticky shudder. Release Date: Feb 5, 2021; 79. –Andy Cush, A band’s impact shouldn’t be hypothetical, but here’s Dogleg, the debutants of Michigan emo, whose breakout year mostly took place in the imagination. Songwriter and bandleader Meg Remy reckons with alienation and injustice, drawing on a palette of pop, rock, and experimental sounds to convey the anxiety of the era. Release Date: Feb 5, 2021. Check out all of Pitchfork’s 2020 wrap-up coverage here . The British-Japanese singer’s triumphant songs, which meld the fabulosity of Y2K-era Britney Spears with Korn-inspired nu-metal and campy stadium rock, invite sing-alongs and stylish TikTok choreography. Her mother’s terminal illness and her own struggles with depression appear in a wintry synesthesia of yellow, blue, and gray. It is. –Marc Hogan, If 2018’s soul-affirming Safe in the Hands of Love established Yves Tumor as a preeminent experimentalist, then the pleasure-seeking and approachable Heaven to a Tortured Mind is the sound of them strutting into the role of a rock god. Read More . Kempf and Balla trade yearning, hiccupy vocals across riffs that reverberate like heat waves off asphalt, as McGrady thuds away through the humid air. Or listen on the streaming platform of your choice. There’s no doubt it has suffered in the era of coronavirus. Moldy laundry, “weird chips,” and straight-up garbage line the former Bomb the Music Industry! –Sam Sodomsky, On Eternal Atake, Lil Uzi Vert employs an extraterrestrial concept that should be kitschy—in the album’s trailer, he’s jetted into the cosmos in a saucer the size of a city block by a humanoid cult—but instead lends the LP an intergalactic sheen. Since 2015’s modern classic Currents, he’s favored a sound led by lush synth chords, hooky basslines, and danceable grooves. Ungodly Hour is a collection of low-key tracks that demonstrated true mastery of their intricate harmonies over slinky, charismatic production. The historical sweep of the music is equally broad, not simply focused on this-minute sounds but spanning decades of influences and collaborators—the latter ranging here from ancestral icon Youssou N’Dour to nineties legends like Timbaland and Diddy, to recent stars like Stormzy. On their fourth album, Tumor is smoldering and romantic, expressing their appetite through squalling guitar solos, slinky basslines, and an ensemble of guest singers who match their lusty fervor beat for beat. This covers (nearly) all Pitchfork reviews in the year to date and is ranked by Pitchfork score then alphabetical on artist (first name). Instantly, it felt more like an unfocused, loose, and chaotic mid-aughts Lil Wayne mixtape with memorable tracks like “All In,” where the flexes are brilliantly batshit (Lil Baby threatens to wreck his Lambo truck just to prove, to no one in particular, that it’s not rented). Consider The Angel You Don’t Know proof-of-concept of an alt-afropop offshoot, destined for a global audience without sacrificing its cultural roots. Where on his debut album Sumney lingered on lack and absence, on græ he delivers effulgence and multiplicity with a shapeshifting swagger. Rarely does a particular sound last longer than a single beat. Owens wrote the lyrics in a depressive state following a trauma-release therapy session, transforming that cathartic expulsion of her pain into a record with healing properties of its own. –Marc Hogan, After zoning in on starry ambience and minimalism on 2017’s Eternal Recurrence, Angel Deradoorian returns to polyglot psych rock on Find the Sun. –Jia Tolentino, From her early punk recordings alongside sister Allison to her quietly devastating solo albums, Katie Crutchfield is always steadfast in her truth. “Hardly linear like narratives read,” Audet sings. –Marc Hogan, Ironically, Kevin Parker became one of today’s most influential rock stars by sidelining the scruffy guitar riffs of early Tame Impala records. 82. In 13 Lists. –Dean Van Nguyen, From the opening disco swagger of “4 American Dollars,” U.S. Girls’ Heavy Light crackles with kinetic energy. Pitchfork, the most vital and ... the tour for the band’s 2020 album X: The Godless Void and Other Stories long since postponed. It lies at the intersection of beats and ambience, where sounds are just vibrations entering and leaving the body, cleansing it of toxins. She maintains her unmatched knack for ferocious marriages of country and rock, swooping from the snarls of “Wakin’ Up” and “Man Without a Soul” to the weary last-call shuffles of “Good Souls” and “Shadows and Doubts.” Alongside her fury for oppressors, Williams offers comfort and solidarity to the dispossessed, with a set of tunes that break your heart only to glue it back together again. Started as a lockdown exercise for my own benefit, the list grew from there. Indie Rock. Twice as Tall triumphs not so much for its substance but as a shimmering surface, a landslide victory for the politics of pleasure. Despite physical concerts and touring being thrust into futility, 2020 will still go down as a stellar year for music as acts like Taylor Swift and Fiona Apple made their mark with career-best projects. If nothing else, Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album should forever put to rest the idea that the storied songwriter is losing his voice. –Cat Zhang, From the opening disco swagger of “4 American Dollars,” U.S. Girls’ Heavy Light crackles with kinetic energy. Led by a keening riff lifted from Uriah Heep’s “Weep in Silence,” Tumor and singer-songwriter Diana Gordon supplicate to a lover over walls of electric guitar and pummeling drums. But the best albums of 2020 proved that incredible new music will always make their way to our ears, even in the toughest of times. McEntire began working on the album after touring as a member of Angel Olsen’s band for two years, and her time on the road is audible in these electric, live-sounding performances. The vibe is calm and bittersweet, as Navy Blue sinks deep into the recesses of his mind. Heaven to a Tortured Mind balances listeners on that knife point, declaring Tumor’s rock-star bona fides with roguish style. Above is Metacritic's list of the 40 best-reviewed albums of 2020, ranked by Metascore. Over a buzzsaw guitar, mononymous vocalist Summer screams through her disgust for entitled dudes with backward hats and hair gel. No artist wants to be pigeonholed, but for Strange this resistance is crucial to the art he makes as a Black man working in a field most associated with white dudes. A list of Pitchfork's best music of 2020. largest wave of civil-rights protests in American history. But he’s anything but dreary in his delivery, using loud guitars, louder drums, and his own brash and unwieldy voice to set scenes of filthy rental cars and beer-can pyramids. –Allison Hussey, It was an album that was rumored to be rap’s next opus before it even materialized. The resulting songs pierce her party girl persona with something more sentimental—and sometimes quotidian—but, true to form, she buoyed the vibe with sugar-rush hooks and blowout beats. Inner Song is club music at its most spiritual. Songwriter and bandleader Meg Remy reckons with alienation and injustice, drawing on a palette of pop, rock, and experimental sounds to convey the anxiety of the era. He basks in the band’s jubilant orchestrations, but also uses them toward more complicated ends. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1. Frontperson Alli Logout’s jagged vocals dissect poverty, love, and commodified dissent, making The Passion Of the rare contemporary punk album that is actually as revolutionary as it sets out to be. Neither hot mess nor robot, sisters Chloe x Halle have chosen a different route, from YouTube sensations to Beyoncé protégées to grown women. With this intimate hospice of a record, Allison gave us both. Pitchfork may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. Poignant collages of interviews split the album into sections; the speakers’ recollections of hurtful memories and childhood bedrooms suffuse the music with empathy. As is … –Jessica Kariisa, Room for the Moon feels like a safe place to hide from mounting anxiety. These instrumentals lend a “sense of comic relief,” Allison says, “like when you joke with your friend about your unhealthy habits.” In a year when hundreds of thousands of Americans perished, we needed friends desperately—someone to make us laugh, and someone to sit with us at shiva. –Eric Torres, © 2021 Condé Nast. “I have a gift, I’ve been told, for seeing what’s there,” she sings on “The Eye,” and her perspective has never sounded so clear. Writing with more personality and candor than ever about a range of difficult themes—depression, loss, misogyny, the complications of loving on one’s own terms—they’ve also loosened their taut pop rock just enough to breathe more life into it, incorporating the ‘90s Lilith rock of Sheryl Crow, the blue-skied strums of Wilco, and a groovy Lou Reed interpolation. Amidst the neverending whirlwind of 2020, it was tempting to crawl into a cocoon of nostalgic favorites and never come out. On the slow-burning “It’s Lomelda,” she croons off a list of her musical heroes and their work, from Yo La Tengo to Frank Ocean to Sufjan Stevens’ devastatingly spare “The Only Thing.” She turns a conversational bit of advice into a soaring mantra on “Wonder,” repeating the phrase “When you get it, give it all you got, you said” across vocal peaks and valleys. Much like Sufjan Stevens in the songs of Carrie & Lowell, Allison ventures into the tundra of her despair and emerges with an unsparing and unsentimental account of survival. You air-drum the little hitch in “Fox” again and again across your steering wheel; you throw your chest forward in your home-office at all the perfectly executed half-time breakdowns; you do isometric lunges while Stoitsiadis sings about disintegrating. –Quinn Moreland, Fifteen years ago, on the title track to Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple declared, “I still only travel by foot, and by foot, it’s a slow climb.” She worked her way up to the clear heights of Fetch the Bolt Cutters over the course of the last half-decade or so, largely at her L.A. home alongside trusted bandmates and friends and a small shelter’s worth of barking dogs. Rather than muddling her meaning, this single instrument’s ambiguity—of feeling, timbre, gender, even species—suggests a state of perpetual transformation. The record effortlessly weaves between reggae, cumbia, Ethio-jazz, and more, containing wild energy and profound chill. The most exciting and important new albums being released today. The Nashville trio consists of guitarist (and bar owner) Joel Plunkett, Silver Jews drummer (and Trash Humpers actor) Brian Kotzur, and bassist Sabrina Rush, who also plays violin in the Midwest alt-country group State Champion. –Peyton Thomas, Soul Glo makes punk music with real stakes and a palpable sense of danger. Low → High. The music expresses the joy of wildness, with fast and burly songs set off by handclaps and harmonica solos. The Microphones: Microphones in 2020 … Across the record, the rapper uses singular rhythms and invented syntax to imagine his jewelry eliciting gasps from the juror box, chide police for snooping through his DMs, and laugh along with the inmates nodding their heads to his phone calls. It makes for a complex and personal statement about the nature and worth of Black creativity and labor. Along with producer Matt Sweeney, the band made Country Westerns with no filler, packing every song with twangy riffs and shout-along hooks. –Dani Blum, Cut off from her usual muses—her crew and the club—Charli XCX needed a different kind of community space to inspire her this year. From the choppy vocoder of “One More Year” to the loping soft rock of “Borderline,” Parker allows myriad influences to flow through his songwriting: house, boogie, yacht rock, R&B. The result was her truest, wildest record to date—the kind of album that borders on literature in its ability to convey nuances of the human condition. With Slowdive’s Neil Halstead in the producer’s chair, the Los Angeles harpist swells her gentle ambience with a more strident sound but remains as transporting as … The album reflects her newfound ease, all big skies, wide open spaces, and Americana twang. 80. –Jillian Mapes, New Orleans electro-punks Special Interest see catharsis in demolition. “I grew up in the shoes they told me I could fill, shoes that were not made for running up that hill/And I need to run up that hill, I need to run up that hill/I will, I will, I will, I will, I will,” she insists on another title track doubling as a renewed mission statement. (All releases featured here are independently selected by our editors. III. No artist wants to be pigeonholed, but for Strange this resistance is crucial to the art he makes as a Black man working in a field most associated with white dudes. –Jeremy D. Larson, The second album of soulful Americana from North Carolina songwriter H.C. McEntire begins with an early morning prayer and ends with a slow-burn Led Zeppelin cover. –Allison P. Davis, The followup to Kelly Lee Owens’ breakthrough self-titled LP is rooted in pain and loss—the shedding of a toxic relationship, the death of her grandmother, and the decay of the environment. We count down to number one, with entries from Soccer Mommy, Run The Jewels, HAIM and Moses Sumney . On his first collection of original material in eight years, he sounds unusually attuned to the suggestive power of his craggy instrument, using small changes of inflection to convey wry self-mockery, roaring prowess, and a certain uneasy nostalgia. All articles filed in pitchfork best albums 2020. Let's face it: listening to new music wasn't exactly easy this year. The result is some of the finest songwriting of Swift’s career, vivid storytelling both personal and fictional (and somewhere in between), stuffed with more Easter eggs than a Marvel movie.