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50 best albums of 2020 so far

  • 50 best albums of 2020 so far

    Uncertainties have rocked the start of 2020, crushing promises of live concerts at venues and festivals. But today’s artists aren’t letting these aftershocks pause the show. The start of the new decade was blessed with so many fresh albums in various genres—from The Weeknd’s highly anticipated “After Hours” and the Strokes’ return with “The New Abnormal” to Rina Sawayama’s debut studio album “Sawayama.”

    While reality seems to grow more chaotic by the minute, these new releases are perfect for those who want to temporarily escape from the real world through retro-pop tracks and trancy synth beats blasting in their ears. Soundtracks for fantasies played out in the minds of daydreamers are also in abundance, as with the silky and emotional vocals by Teyana Taylor in her recent release “The Album” and RICEWINE’s experimental, lo-fi melodies in “Lovesick.” Through headphones or loudspeakers, these enticing sound waves wash away nerves and worries for just a few precious minutes.

    With so many new albums dropping every other week, it is easy to forget that almost everyone was just dancing to singles from Bad Bunny and Megan Thee Stallion three months ago. For those feeling nostalgic for the earlier months of 2020 (when life hadn’t yet turned 180 degrees), and for those who are looking for new tracks to dance along to in their bedrooms, Stacker created a list of the best 50 albums of the year so far, collecting data on top albums of 2020 from Metacritic. Each album is ranked according to its Metascore as of June 23, 2020, with ties being broken by the number of reviews.

    New music has added color to the haze that has been 2020. Peruse this year’s best sounds—everything from sweet guitar licks infused with country twang, lyrical rhythm and blues, dreamy ballads, and the heavy distortion of hardcore punk.

    [Pictured: Childish Gambino performing in 2019.]

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  • #50. 'For Their Love' by Other Lives

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: April 24, 2020

    “For Their Love” is Other Lives’ fifth album, including their 2006 debut “Flight of the Flynns” under their former name, Kunek. The Oklahoma trio’s cinematic orchestrations of violin, guitar, percussion, and trumpet notes recall a nostalgic scene of orange sunsets on faraway open fields.

  • #49. 'Clockdust' by Rustin Man

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: March 27, 2020

    Formerly known as the bassist for the band Talk Talk in the U.K. and co-creator of the duo .O.rang, Paul Webb shines with his vocals as Rustin Man. “Clockdust” quickly follows Rustin Man’s debut album “Drift Code” in 2019. This came to be after Webb found that he had recorded enough songs for two albums after the initial recording sessions for “Drift Code.”

  • #48. 'The Long Goodbye' by Riz Ahmed

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: March 6, 2020

    Riz Ahmed, who is also an award-winning actor, is known for using his voice as an activist. With cameos by notable names such as Mindy Kaling, Mahershala Ali and Yara Shahidi, Ahmed compiles voicemails and musical tracks that speak about issues of xenophobia and identity under the guise of a romantic breakup. “The Long Goodbye” was released alongside a short film depicting a South-Asian family in the U.K. who are targets of a merciless hate crime.

  • #47. 'You Make Me Feel' by Don Bryant

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: June 19, 2020

    Memphis great Don Bryant brings back classic soul and R&B to the contemporary stage, belting out catchy hits about love and heartbreak. Bryant’s sonorous vocals are laid atop upbeat tracks and soft, melodic riffs in “You Make Me Feel.” Singles such as “Your Love is To Blame” and “99 LBs” are clear declarations of Bryant’s love for his wife of 50 years, soul singer Ann Peebles.

  • #46. 'A Written Testimony' by Jay Electronica

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: March 13, 2020

    After making appearances in multiple projects, from Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” and Talib Kweli’s “Radio Silence” to Curren$y’s “Pilot Talk: Trilogy,” “A Written Testimony” is Jay Electronica’s debut album. Produced by Roc Nation, Jay Electronica’s new release features Travis Scott, Jay-Z, and The-Dream.

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  • #45. 'The Universe Inside' by The Dream Syndicate

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: April 10, 2020

    After making their names during the ‘80s Paisley Underground scene with their alternative- and psychedelia-infused styles, The Dream Syndicate came together again to make experimental sounds of electric, psychedelic jazz. “The Universe Inside” is the group’s seventh album and steers away from what’s conventional, with its first track running 20 minutes and 27 seconds.

  • #44. 'Never Will' by Ashley McBryde

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: April 3, 2020

    One year after receiving big awards from CMT Music, the ACM and the CMA for her debut record “Girl Going Nowhere,” Ashley McBryde released her highly anticipated second album “Never Will” on April 3. There is no sophomore slump, as McBryde once again showcases her award-winning vocal tenacity and emotional storytelling.

  • #43. 'Out of My Province' by Nadia Reid

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: March 6, 2020

    Hailing from New Zealand, Nadia Reid dropped 10 tracks for “Out of My Province” filled with her signature soulful folk melodies. Working with Spacebomb Records, each song has its own inflections, borrowing from indie pop in “Other Side of the Wheel” and soft, alternative rock in “Best Thing.”

  • #42. 'Pick Me Up Off the Floor' by Norah Jones

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: June 12, 2020

    Norah Jones’ career skyrocketed with her 2002 album “Come Away With Me” after her single “Don’t Know Why” reached the Top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100. The critically acclaimed artist released her seventh solo album, “Pick Me Up Off the Floor,” which compiles ballads about melancholy, hurt, and loneliness—and the strength to get through it all.

  • #41. 'Dark Matter' by Moses Boyd

    - Metascore: 83
    - Release date: Feb. 14, 2020

    “Dark Matter” is Moses Boyd’s sophomore album, parallelling the eclectic jazz and electronic beats found in his first release, “Displaced Diaspora.” Since making a name for himself as composer, producer, and bandleader, Boyd has worked with Zara McFarlane, Theon Cross, and Poppy Ajudha.

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