The 100 Best Albums of 2020 (#50-41)

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#50: Soccer Mommy – Color Theory

The funny thing about Sophia Allison is that the brighter and poppier her music becomes, the darker the mood becomes. The “color theory” referred to here is three states of being and three colors: blue, for depression; yellow, for mental and physical illness; and grey, for mortality. It bops like the late 90s but talks like the early 90s, in other words.

#49: Thundercat – It Is What It Is

Yeah yeah it’s a funk tour de force, full of forward-thinking fresh ideas etc. We get it, he did major contributions not only for Flying Lotus but also Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s kind of expected. However, I want to briefly mention here that I just found out, right now, that he did 9 years (2002-2011) as the bassist for Suicidal Tendencies, where his brother played drums. Man’s a straight-up legend.

#48: R.A.P. Ferreira – Purple Moonlight Pages

I’ve been listening to Milo since he tore apart a Baths album and rapped over the samples. It must be frustrating to be possessed of this kind of lyrical talent and be ignored by the larger community, but he’s also staunchly anti-commercial, so there’s a trade-off there. That said, Purple Moonlight Pages is maybe the most attention he’s gotten since A Toothpaste Suburb, so that’s a step in the right direction.

#47: Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Kevin Parker wants to be a Max Martin-esque record producer, and to this end his Tame Impala project is becoming more a mutated psychedelic disco outing than it is a neo-Floyd Aussie psych band. This is by and large a good thing; The Slow Rush features Parker throwing pretty much anything at the wall and going forward with it as it suits him. “If it sounds good, it is good” is a maxim more groups should live by.

#46: Thy Catafalque – Naiv

Scottish post-black metal, one of the one-person projects that are currently flooding metal. It rises above the fray of these projects by it’s near-perfect marriage of melody and atmosphere, using every instrument as part of the collage that makes up the movements of each song. Naiv leaps fearlessly from idea to idea, executing each one as though it was always meant to be that melody, following that melody, in that order.

#45: Dan Deacon – Mystic Familiar

The first album in five years from Deacon finds him using Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies creativity cards as well as drawing from the philosophies of David Lynch to craft a wild, freewheeling collection of psychedelic synth pop. It’s also quite personal, a setup that works exceedingly well for the soundscapes he conjures up.

#44: Shopping – All Or Nothing

Spiky 80s era post-punk shot up with heavy doses of disco, dark wave, and krautrock. It’s sweaty and breathless, a panic attack in the middle of a rave. All Or Nothing features an uneasy tension between the human and the machine, something reflected in both the music and the lyrics. What other album would have a song about seducing a CCTV camera?

#43: King Krule – Man Alive!

Archy Marshall is a weird dude and although Man Alive! is less weird than 2017’s The OOZ, it’s still fundamentally a weird album. It’s intense and it’s dense; sometimes you can almost grasp meaning but then it becomes smoke and slips away from you again. It’s detuned punk-jazz, in part. But only in part.

#42: Agnes Obel – Myopia

Sweeping Danish folk that explores the lonely byways of breaking hearts. One of those albums where the strings swell over everything and fill you with joy and dread at the same time.

#41: Floral Tattoo – You Can Never Have A Long Enough Head Start

OK so there used to be (or there still is) this game where you take a random quote from Quotes and a random Flickr photo and make an album cover out of it. You Can Never Have A Long Enough Head Start has an album cover that is a dead ringer for this game. Despite this, the Seattle alt/emo band boasts one hell of an engine under that tin-looking hood, crafting a manifesto for indie punk queerness in the modern age. It tosses ideas back and forth like a juggler adding balls, going through lo-fi punk, washes of shoegaze distortion, brittle folk, and thrashing garage rock. If you ever needed an album about being trans that wasn’t by Against Me! or just an album about burning shit down, Floral Tattoo is ready to insinuate themselves into your lives.

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