The 100 Best Albums Of 2020 (#60-51)

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#60: The Magnetic Fields – Quickies

It’s 69 Love Songs only much shorter, and possessed of an irreverent, smirking wit. “The Day The Politicians Died” and “My Stupid Boyfriend” are guaranteed singalongs. “Let’s Get Drunk Again (And Get Divorced)” and “The Biggest Tits In History” are surprisingly heartfelt.

#59: Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song

The Welsh producer spends a lot of time making club banger singles but when it comes to her second studio collection looking inward, playing with all of the styles that are buzzing through her head and tying herself down to nothing in particular. That’s not to say there aren’t beats; there are enough solid beats here to fuel a dancefloor for days. There’s also just a lot of wistful atmospherics that make you think while you’re nodding your head.

#58: Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately

Like Rufus Wainwright, Michael Hadreas has a lot of fingers in a lot of musical pies at once and is queer af. Unlike Rufus Wainwright, Hadreas’ Perfume Genius project doesn’t disappear into its creators own pretentiousness. People call it ‘art rock’ because it’s too time-consuming to list off all of the genres that get run through; may as well call it a history of popular music and slap a “Part 5” on it. The man himself points to Townes Van Zandt, Enya, and Cocteau Twins as particular inspiration for this record, which I suppose shows how particularly out-there it gets.

#57: The Strokes – The New Abnormal

Having an outlet in the Voidz seems to have done Julian Casablancas some good, or maybe it’s just the fact that his main band’s been at this for twenty years now. Either way, the Strokes put out their first unabashedly good record since 2003’s Room On Fire, full of the Television-by-way-of-Krautrock stuff that kickstarted the revolution in the first place, mere moments before 9/11.

#56: Boldy James & The Alchemist – The Price Of Tea In China

The Alchemist is on point here, crafting a series of beats that can lull you into a false sense of security as easily as they can lunge out of the shadows and stab you. Detroit rapper Boldy James’ slurred-at-the-ends voice is the perfect driver for these vehicles too: all story-telling details backed up with druggy menace, dope slingers with dying grandmothers, problems with their children, faded jailhouse tattoos. He’s on Griselda now too, proving again that they’re the label to beat going into 2021.

#55: Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – Unlocked

Denzel Curry has the most vicious flow in the game right now and Kenny Beats gives him the pounding beats he needs to show off to a degree unknown prior to Unlocked. As far as perfect hip hop pairings go, it’s not quite Killer Mike and El-P but it’s goddamn close.

#54: EOB – Earth

Thom Yorke has been putting out solo albums for a while now but it’s not like he’s the only talented member of Radiohead. It only took 25 years after “Creep” but now guitarist Ed O’Brien has joined the game, enlisting a pile of friends (including the guitarist from Portishead and the drummer from Wilco) to make an alt-rock album that shimmers and shakes. It’s a bit like if Radiohead did a Primal Scream album.

#53: Sewerslvt – Draining Love Story

Sewerslvt is the ongoing project of Junko, an edgy Australian producer who grew up too online for her own good. To investigate her fandom is to court madness. Great drum n bass though.

#52: Caribou – Suddenly

Dan Snaith celebrated his 15th year in the Caribou project with his first record in six years. It’s (slightly) less of a rave-up than previous Caribou albums but it’s also a little denser, with more texture and some fun reference points to previous highlights in his catalog. Electronic music is a genre of many journeymen but few masters; Dan Snaith is in the rarefied latter.

#51: Katie Gately – Loom

Equal parts Kate Bush and Jenny Hval, Katie Gately crafts a winning art-pop album using only dread as the instrumentation.

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