100 best albums of 2020

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December 23, 2020
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100 best albums of 2020

In December, everyone was comparing their year-end Spotify lists, but what was truly the best album of 2020? That is a debate that could go on for hours, if not days, on end, but we’ll try and condense the arguments here with data from critics. Whether you’re a fan of punk rock, electropop, or indie-folk, there was an abundance of good tunes being churned out in 2020. The list includes newcomers, established rockers branching out into solo acts, and revered artists making long-awaited returns.

Stacker compiled data on the top 100 albums from 2020, according to Best Ever Albums, which ranks albums according to their appearance and performance on editorial and data-based charts, e.g., Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, and so on. The Best Ever Albums score is derived from a formula that weighs how many charts an album has appeared on, and how high it was on each of those charts, and awards points accordingly. All data is current as of Dec. 8, so recent releases by top stars like Kid Cudi and Taylor Swift are not included. For a more in-depth methodology, visit this page.

Are rap pun names and Odd Future connections right up your alley? Have you heard the latest guitar-driven breakthrough album from record label Sub Pop? What about the posthumous release from a beloved Pittsburgh rapper who still mesmerizes with his witty wordplay? Albums that fit those categories and more are all included.

So get your fingers ready to add to your queues, algorithms, and playlists, as this list of best albums can keep you grooving to new tunes for weeks to come. Be sure to check out all of Stacker’s year-end lists, and read on to see who captured the #1 spot in what was a stellar, if not tumultuous, year in music.

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1 / 100
PC Music (3)

#100. 7G by A. G. Cook

- Best Ever Albums score: 41
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Before releasing “7G,” A.G. Cook was perhaps best-known for his collaborations with Charli XCX. But his debut studio album proved Cook could stand on his own. The single “Beetlebum” received an assist from Damon Albarn.

2 / 100
Backwoodz Studioz

#99. Shrines by Armand Hammer

- Best Ever Albums score: 41
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Armand Hammer are rappers Billy Woods and Elucid, and “Shrines” features production from Earl Sweatshirt. Pitchfork wrote that the album “begins by striving for some communion with the natural world.”

3 / 100
Atlantic

#98. Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert

- Best Ever Albums score: 42
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 63

Lil Uzi Vert’s second album was highly anticipated, after the success of “Luv is Rage 2.” The trap rapper from Philadelphia’s “Eternal Atake” debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, and featured collaborations with Syd and Chief Keef.

4 / 100
Drag City

#97. Gold Record by Bill Callahan

- Best Ever Albums score: 42
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Coming in at just over 40 minutes, “Gold Record” is a tightly-weaved country rock album that The Guardian said should put Bill Callahan in “the pantheon of great American singer-songwriters.” The album was almost universally praised for its warmth and empathy.

5 / 100
Secret City Records

#96. Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs by Klô Pelgag

- Best Ever Albums score: 43
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Klô Pelgag, a singer-songwriter from Québec, Canada, dazzled listeners with her third studio album. “Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs” is rife with literary themes. Songs were partly inspired by the work of Gabriel García Márquez and Ernest Hemingway.

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6 / 100
Thérèse Records

#95. See You Tomorrow by The Innocence Mission

- Best Ever Albums score: 43
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

A folk band from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, The Innocence Mission is fronted by the gentle vocals of Karen Peris. “See You Tomorrow” is the band’s 12th album, and features a unique arrangement of pump organ, low harmonica, and mellotron, all played by Peris.

7 / 100
Carpark Records

#94. Jump Rope Gazers by The Beths

- Best Ever Albums score: 43
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

The Beths are a New Zealand indie pop band who’ve opened for Death Cab for Cutie. “Jump Rope Gazers” included several songs about separation from loved ones. The album title references a “jump rope” connection between people.

8 / 100
Auto Reverse Records

#93. Anime, Trauma and Divorce by Open Mike Eagle

- Best Ever Albums score: 43
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Open Mike Eagle has been a favorite of the underground hip-hop scene, and “Anime, Trauma and Divorce” only solidified his standing. Originally from Chicago, Open Mike Eagle moved to Los Angeles and hooked up with up-and-comers like Dumbfoundead. His latest release featured contributions from Black Milk and Kari Faux.

9 / 100
Sub Pop

#92. Sideways to New Italy by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

- Best Ever Albums score: 44
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Australian indie rock band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are signed to Sub Pop, the label famous for signing Nirvana. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s style is less grunge, but just as universally appealing—Rolling Stone said their latest album might be the “best guitar record of 2020.”

10 / 100
AJJ Unlimited LTD

#91. Good Luck Everybody by AJJ

- Best Ever Albums score: 44
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 70

Formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad, AJJ tackles the current jumbled political climate on “Good Luck Everybody.” The album is a trippy, unique musical journey that has been described as balancing the outlandish and the sincere.

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11 / 100
Warp Records

#90. Magic Oneohtrix Point Never by Oneohtrix Point Never

- Best Ever Albums score: 44
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, has been pushing the boundaries of experimental music for almost 15 years. His latest release features the Weeknd and incorporates wooden marimbas and slices of electropop.

12 / 100
Exodus (8)

#89. Dark Matter by Moses Boyd

- Best Ever Albums score: 44
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

British musician Moses Boyd, only 29, is proving to be a master of jazz. “Dark Matter” is Boyd’s debut album and was nominated for a Mercury Prize. Boyd’s music has been called both dance floor friendly and kaleidoscopic.

13 / 100
Saddle Creek

#88. Likewise by Frances Quinlan

- Best Ever Albums score: 44
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

After leading the band Hop Along, Frances Quinlan released her debut solo album in 2020. “Likewise” relies on simple keys and Quinlan’s melodic voice, that sings lyrics full of detail.

14 / 100
Capitol Records

#87. Earth by EOB

- Best Ever Albums score: 45
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Ed O’Brien, guitarist of Radiohead, released his debut album as EOB. “Earth” features work from members of Portishead and Wilco, and while the music teases some tinges of Radiohead, it’s very much a standalone project. The album was influenced after O’Brien attended Carnival in Brazil.

15 / 100
Mom + Pop

#86. Honeymoon by Beach Bunny

- Best Ever Albums score: 45
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Chicago indie band Beach Bunny made a splash with “Honeymoon,” its debut studio album. Although “Honeymoon” comes in at only 25 minutes, it’s packed with “chirpy songs about awful sadness,” as the New York Times put it.

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16 / 100
Rough Trade

#85. Marigold by Pinegrove

- Best Ever Albums score: 46
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 68

Hailing from Montclair, New Jersey, Pinegrove has been rocking out since 2010. “Neighbor” and “Moment” are among the choice cuts from the 11-song LP, and the band was praised for combining electric guitars with an alt-country sound.

17 / 100
Triple Crown Records

#84. Melee by Dogleg

- Best Ever Albums score: 46
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 72

Coming out of the Detroit punk scene, Dogleg produced 10 tightly wound tracks in just under 36 minutes on “Melee.” The band has been praised for “poignant lyricism” and powerful, thrashing guitars.

18 / 100
Text Records

#83. Sixteen Oceans by Four Tet

- Best Ever Albums score: 47
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 72

Electro musician Kieran Hebden has released 10 albums as Four Tet, and “Sixteen Oceans” is defined by club anthems. The album is chock full of catchy song titles like “1993 Band Practice" and “Love Salad.”

19 / 100
ATO Records

#82. The Unraveling by Drive-By Truckers

- Best Ever Albums score: 47
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 72

Drive-By Truckers took their longest hiatus between albums before releasing “The Unraveling.” The album includes trips through Memphis and post-election angst. Mick Jagger dropped by during the recording process, but did not participate in a session.

20 / 100
XL Recordings

#81. Kick I by Arca

- Best Ever Albums score: 48
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Venezuelan producer Arca turned up the volume and electro beats with “Kick I.” Featuring collabs with Bjork and Spanish singer Rosalia, “Kick I” was nominated for a Grammy Award.

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21 / 100
Parkwood Entertainment

#80. Ungodly Hour by Chloe X Halle

- Best Ever Albums score: 49
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey starred on “Grown-ish” and their musical careers were boosted by a co-sign from Beyoncé. “Ungodly Hour” showed rapid maturation from the Baileys, and earned three Grammy nods. Swae Lee and Mike Will Made-It lend a hand on the standout track “Catch Up.”

22 / 100
Matador

#79. There Is No Year by Algiers

- Best Ever Albums score: 51
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 67

Algiers are anchored by the intense drumming of Matt Tong, formerly of Bloc Party. “There Is No Year” mixes post-punk, soul, and other genres, as Algiers tackles political turmoil.

23 / 100
Blue Note

#78. Myopia by Agnes Obel

- Best Ever Albums score: 51
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Danish singer Agnes Obel turns classical music into a fusion of chamber and pop. Obel studied music and her parents were accomplished jazz guitarists and pianists.

24 / 100
Nuclear Blast

#77. Mestarin Kynsi by Oranssi Pazuzu

- Best Ever Albums score: 52
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Is Finnish psychedelic black metal your thing? Then Oranssi Pazuzu is the band for you. “Mestarin Kynsi” has been described as a “thoroughly intense and captivating departure from this earthly realm.”

25 / 100
Roc Nation

#76. A Written Testimony by Jay Electronica

- Best Ever Albums score: 52
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 69

For over a decade, hip-hop fans awaited Jay Electronica’s debut album. With props from Jay Z, Just Blaze, and a host of other hip-hop luminaries, Electronica was supposed to be the next big thing. Well worth the wait, “A Written Testimony” is refreshingly short on features and guided by beats from No I.D., Hit-Boy, and James Blake.

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26 / 100
Lucky Number

#75. West of Eden by HMLTD

- Best Ever Albums score: 52
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

English rockers HMLTD have been described as “riotous rock,” with dashes of glam and goth. HMLTD was originally signed by Sony, were subsequently dropped, but rebounded nicely on London independent label Lucky Number Music.

27 / 100
Northern Spy

#74. The Common Task by Horse Lords

- Best Ever Albums score: 53
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

With a name like Horse Lords, you better believe this Baltimore act tilts toward avant-garde rock. “The Common Task” was praised for intricate, methodical songs on this five-track album that comes in at over 40 minutes.

28 / 100
Anti

#73. Miss Colombia by Lido Pimienta

- Best Ever Albums score: 54
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Lido Pimienta is one of the foremost creators of indigenious Colombian music. Her latest album is named after a memorable moment at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, and is a modern take on cumbia, bullerengue and porro music.

29 / 100
Interscope Records

#72. Chromatica by Lady Gaga

- Best Ever Albums score: 54
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 70

In her first major release since the soundtrack of “A Star is Born,” Lady Gaga called on Ariana Grande, Elton John, and Blackpink for collabs on “Chromatica.” American producer BloodPop has his fingerprints over almost every track as Gaga returns to the dance floor favorable sound that made her a pop icon.

30 / 100
Mello Music Group

#71. Innocent Country 2 by Quelle Chris & Chris Keys

- Best Ever Albums score: 56
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

In their second album—a follow-up to 2015’s “Invisible Country”—rap duo Quelle Chris & Chris Keys created a trippy underground hip-hop journey. Featuring the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and comedian Josh Gondelman, “Invisible Country 2” has “breezy production” and simplistic flows to draw in mainstream audiences.

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31 / 100
KGLW

#70. K.G. by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

- Best Ever Albums score: 58
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Although they only had the 70th best album on this list, it can be unofficially announced that King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have the best band name of 2020. These Australian rockers are known for their electric live performances, and that energy shows on “K.G.,” which is a sequel to “Flying Microtonal Banana.”

32 / 100
Virgin

#69. The Universal Want by Doves

- Best Ever Albums score: 58
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

British rockers Doves returned in 2020 with their first album in 10 years. The album is a bit of an ode to David Bowie, with mesmerizing drum loops and synth sounds.

33 / 100
Vinyl

#68. Heavy Light by U.S. Girls

- Best Ever Albums score: 59
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 71

Meghan Remy, recording as U.S. Girls, continues to experiment with pop like few other artists. With political undertones and Bruce Springsteen nods, the “Heavy Light” is a reference to a Franz Kafka quote.

34 / 100
Dead Oceans

#67. Mordechai by Khruangbin

- Best Ever Albums score: 60
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

A psychedelic soul band from Houston, Khruangbin takes musical influences from around the world and makes them their own. Members of the band met at the same church Beyoncé frequents, and they utilize soul, Indian folk, Jamaican, and Congolese ingredients to create a stand-alone album.

35 / 100
Domino

#66. Mystic Familiar by Dan Deacon

- Best Ever Albums score: 60
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Dan Deacon’s electro-infused “Mystic Familiar” is his first studio album in five years. Deacon is recognized as a founder of Baltimore’s DIY scene, and his latest work is a solid collection of indie pop tunes.

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36 / 100
Concord Records

#65. Serpentine Prison by Matt Berninger

- Best Ever Albums score: 61
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 72

Matt Berninger, frontman of The National, created a brooding and captivating album for his solo debut. Much of the album was created with R&B legend Booker T. Jones. To prepare for his solo work, Berninger collaborated with Phoebe Bridgers, an up-and-coming name featured on this list.

37 / 100
Other People

#64. Cenizas by Nicolas Jaar

- Best Ever Albums score: 62
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 72

The Chilean American producer Nicolas Jaar wowed critics with a deeply existential album in “Cenizas,” which translates to “ashes” in Spanish. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Jaar wrote most of the album in isolation. Jaar’s father is a noted Chilean activist and that influence can be heard throughout “Cenizas.”

38 / 100
Dead Oceans

#63. Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was by Bright Eyes

- Best Ever Albums score: 63
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Conor Oberst is a pillar of indie rock and his first album with Bright Eyes in nine years showed that he hasn’t lost his magnetic music-making ability. “Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was” is a sad, albeit lovely album, buttressed by tracks like “Persona Non Grata” and “Forced Convalescence.”

39 / 100
Impulse!

#62. We Are Sent Here by History by Shabaka and the Ancestors

- Best Ever Albums score: 64
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has explored all sorts of South African music, leading to a monumental album in “We Are Sent Here by History.” The New York Times posited that Shabaka and the Ancestors could be a starting point in the reinvention of jazz music.

40 / 100
Smalltown Supersound

#61. Inner Song by Kelly Lee Owens

- Best Ever Albums score: 65
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Welsh electro musician Kelly Lee Owens had a critically acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2017. Her follow-up, “Inner Song,” equally wowed critics with dream pop sounds that feel physical and emotional.

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41 / 100
Earth Analog Records

#60. Inlet by Hum

- Best Ever Albums score: 66
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Hum hadn’t released an album in 22 years, but surprised fans in June with “Inlet.” The band reportedly started work on “Inlet” in 2018, and the final product is a great callback to its 1990s heyday.

42 / 100
Mutually Detrimental

#59. Swimmer by Tennis

- Best Ever Albums score: 67
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, better known as Tennis, formed as a band in Denver and later got married. Their latest album is a smooth listen, while addressing many of the toughest experiences of the couples’ lives over the past few years.

43 / 100
Sony Music

#58. Un Canto por México Vol. 1 by Natalia Lafourcade

- Best Ever Albums score: 68
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Natalia Lafourcade’s “Un Canto por México, Vol. 1” is a delightful ode to Mexican folk music. Although she may not have yet broken through in the American mainstream, Lafourcade has worked with Miguel and been nominated for a slew of Latin Grammys. Her time is coming.

44 / 100
XL Recordings

#57. We’re New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven by Gil Scott-Heron/ Makaya McCraven

- Best Ever Albums score: 69
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Fresh Gil Scott-Heron material seems perfect for 2020, a year defined by social change. Makaya McCraven reimagined Scott-Heron’s last album, and created a work that breathes new life into the artist’s legacy.

45 / 100
Skint

#56. Róisín Machine by Róisín Murphy

- Best Ever Albums score: 73
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Irish singer Róisín Murphy's newest release is a transition into more disco dance music, which will be sure to move bodies once it’s acceptable to go to clubs and parties again. Some of the songs on “Róisín Machine” have been floating around the internet since 2012.

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46 / 100
Forever Living Originals

#55. Untitled (Black Is) by Sault

- Best Ever Albums score: 76
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

British music collective Sault released two albums this year, with “Untitled (Black Is)” garnering critical acclaim. The lyrics of the album explored the Black experience in revelatory ways. Sales of the album went to charity.

47 / 100
Iron Works Records

#54. Descendants of Cain by Ka

- Best Ever Albums score: 81
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Rapper Kaseem “Ka” Ryan, a New York underground legend, wowed critics with his fifth studio album. Hip-hop albums can often drag on with filler, but at under 33 minutes, “Descendants of Cain” was one of the most effectively packed albums in ages. Ka benefits from a close circle of collaborators who refined his sound.

48 / 100
Island Records

#53. Imploding the Mirage by The Killers

- Best Ever Albums score: 81
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 71

Las Vegas rockers The Killers released their highly anticipated album “Imploding the Mirage” in August. Brandon Flowers’ songwriting shines in tracks like “My Own Soul’s Warning” and “Caution.” The album was praised for its invigorating composition, proving that the veterans still have plenty left in the tank.

49 / 100
Reprise Records

#52. Ohms by Deftones

- Best Ever Albums score: 82
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Deftones returned with their first release in four years, and ninth album in a legacy that has spanned over 30 years. “Ohms” has been described as a mash-up of dream pop and metal, packing heavy, emotional lyricism.

50 / 100
Secretly Canadian

#51. Every Bad by Porridge Radio

- Best Ever Albums score: 82
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Porridge Radio are led by the punk stylings of Dana Margolin, who provides a unique voice among the world of British indie rockers. Margolin exquisitely sings about conflicting emotions, with “Sweet” being a standout track.

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51 / 100
Dirty Hit

#50. Notes on a Conditional Form by The 1975

- Best Ever Albums score: 83
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 69

Few albums these days are recorded over several years, but that’s what The 1975 did in creating its 22-track opus. “Notes on a Conditional Form” is The 1975’s longest album, and features a collab with FKA Twigs and a spoken-word intro from climate activist Greta Thunberg.

52 / 100
Sumerian Records

#49. I Disagree by Poppy

- Best Ever Albums score: 86
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Poppy has created an eccentric mix of nu metal and pop, led by standout tracks like “Nothing I Need.” Poppy has gained further notoriety performing with WWE star Io Shirai.

53 / 100
Dirty Science

#48. Miles by Blu & Exile

- Best Ever Albums score: 89
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Blu & Exile take the traditional rapper/producer hip-hop duo and infuse the dynamic with jazzy beats and exquisite lyricism. The double album “Miles” is inspired by Miles Davis, but began as a trap album. Underground rappers Aceyalone, Aloe Blacc, and Fashawn contributed feature verses.

54 / 100
Emma McIntyre // Getty Images

#47. 3.15.20 by Childish Gambino

- Best Ever Albums score: 91
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 71

Actor Donald Glover released his fourth studio album, with basic song titles referring to their time stamps. As Childish Gambino, Glover has matured some as an artist—his first album, “Camp,” received a 1.6 out of 10 rating from Pitchfork. The new album “3.15.20.” was rated as a 6.

55 / 100
Loma Vista Recordings

#46. Unlocked by Denzel Curry X Kenny Beats

- Best Ever Albums score: 97
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

This short EP gives listeners 18 minutes of pure rap rhythm, as rapper Denzel Curry seamlessly rhymes over Kenny Beats’ production. With punchlines like “fire flows like I’m red and white Mario,” this album is a great callback to the heyday of New York City rap in the 1990s.

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56 / 100
Southeastern Records (2)

#45. Reunions by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

- Best Ever Albums score: 97
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Led by Jason Isbell, former member of Drive-By Truckers, “Reunions” was noted for being a record that served as a remedy for the coronavirus pandemic. “It Gets Easier” and “What’ve I Done to Help?” were two songs with very timely titles.

57 / 100
Columbia

#44. Letter to You by Bruce Springsteen

- Best Ever Albums score: 100
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

The Boss’ latest album was another salve for listeners looking for comfort during the coronavirus. Bruce Springsteen, who also released a powerful album after 9/11, confronts his mortality and other mature personal issues on his 20th studio album. Springsteen’s latest blend of mellow, insightful rock was considered “life-affirming” for some critics.

58 / 100
Domino

#43. Ultimate Success Today by Protomartyr

- Best Ever Albums score: 104
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

It’s rare that an album title is inspired by “get rich quick” ads, but Protomartyr successfully pulled off the feat with “Ultimate Success Today.” The Detroit rock band’s fifth album doesn’t feel like a scam at all, though, able to mix bleak, absurd, and funny themes into 10 songs.

59 / 100
Reprise Records

#42. Homegrown by Neil Young

- Best Ever Albums score: 109
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

You’d think there’d be little left for Neil Young to accomplish, but his 40th studio album only elevated his status as a rock legend. “Homegrown” is full of melancholic love songs that evoke the feel of his artistic zenith.

60 / 100
Sub Pop

#41. Visions of Bodies Being Burned by Clipping

- Best Ever Albums score: 110
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 79

Los Angeles hip-hop group Clipping has experimented with new hip-hop styles for more than a decade. Its latest album, another Sub Pop release, is a tribute in part to George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, and features samples from The Geto Boys.

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61 / 100
Brainfeeder

#40. It Is What It Is by Thundercat

- Best Ever Albums score: 112
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Stephen Lee Bruner performing as Thundercat brings a one-of-a-kind fusion of jazz, hip-hop, and exemplary bass guitar playing. On “It Is What It Is,” Thundercat hooked up with producer Flying Lotus to craft a humorous and emotional album. Some of the songs are suspected to be a nod to the artistry of Mac Miller.

62 / 100
Monkeywrench Records

#39. Gigaton by Pearl Jam

- Best Ever Albums score: 112
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Pearl Jam’s latest album is intended to provide slivers of hope during depressing times. “Gigaton” employs more experimentation than usual on a Pearl Jam album, and was such a forceful listen that Kerrang! gave it a perfect 5/5 score.

63 / 100
XL Recordings

#38. Man Alive! by King Krule

- Best Ever Albums score: 117
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

English musician Archy Marshall, aka King Krule, released one of 2020’s most optimistic albums. A multitalented producer, guitarist, rapper, and all-around man of many hats, King Krule shined on songs like “(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag On” and “Cellular.” Overall, he mixes saxophones, delicate guitar, and lulling pianos to great effect.

64 / 100
Polyvinyl Record Company

#37. No Dream by Jeff Rosenstock

- Best Ever Albums score: 119
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Jeff Rosenstock jams 13 tightly crafted songs into 40 minutes to create one of the year’s top punk albums. Rosenstock is a bit of a DIY genius, and shows more of a breezy sound on this record after relocating from New York to California. Rosenstock took aim at prison systems and gun violence, among many other social issues, on “No Dream.”

65 / 100
4AD

#36. Songs by Adrianne Lenker

- Best Ever Albums score: 121
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 79

Adrianne Lenker is best known for leading Big Thief, but she took time to craft solo songs about a breakup on “Songs.” The folk album was released simultaneously with another album “Instrumentals.” Lenker is often cited for her “radical honesty.”

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66 / 100
Matador

#35. Making a Door Less Open by Car Seat Headrest

- Best Ever Albums score: 122
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 73

Indie rockers Car Seat Headrest took a dip into electro rock with “Making A Door Less Open.” The switch was largely a success, with “Hymn” and “Famous” two of the more ambitious tracks.

67 / 100
Other People

#34. 2017-2019 by Against All Logic

- Best Ever Albums score: 144
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Nicolas Jaar, who previously appeared on this list, charts again as alter ego A.A.L., Against All Logic. Known for producing electro house bangers as A.A.L., Jaar switches to a more techno sound on “2017-2019.”

68 / 100
Dirty Hit

#33. Sawayama by Rina Sawayama

- Best Ever Albums score: 144
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Japanese singer Rina Sawayama offered a stunning debut studio offering on “Sawayama,” combining pop, R&B, and rock. “STFU!” and “Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)” are two highlights on an album that is full of songs that exhibit female power. Much of the album harkens back to the Y2K era of music.

69 / 100
Ruby Yacht

#32. Purple Moonlight Pages by R.A.P. Ferreira

- Best Ever Albums score: 145
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Also known as Milo, R.A.P. Ferreira is gaining a name as a burgeoning producer and rapper. “Doldrums” is a fiery mix of piano and bass, and the rest of the LP features lively rhymes over dexteric beats.

70 / 100
Caroline International

#31. Color Theory by Soccer Mommy

- Best Ever Albums score: 147
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Passive moods are the name of the game on Soccer Mommy’s second studio album. Soccer Mommy—Sophia Allison—emotes her angst best on songs like “Circle Drain”; while many of the songs have an upbeat sound, the tones and moods of the lyrics can get quite dark.

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71 / 100
Partisan Records

#30. Ultra Mono by Idles

- Best Ever Albums score: 150
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

The English rockers Idles had a breakthrough with “Joy As An Act of Resistance.” Idles further explored themes of identity, mental health, and sexism on “Ultra Mono.” Lyrics get right to the point— “Our government hates the poor/Cold leaders, cold class war.”

72 / 100
Jagjaguwar

#29. græ by Moses Sumney

- Best Ever Albums score: 151
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Moses Sumney has performed on tour with Sufjan Stevens and Dirty Projectors, but seems on the brink of becoming a major headliner in his own right. Sumney has not been shy in his disdain for major labels, and “græ” displays artistic freedom without restraints. James Blake and Jill Scott helped craft the album.

73 / 100
Dead Oceans

#28. Have We Met by Destroyer

- Best Ever Albums score: 151
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are some of the inspirations for Destroyer’s latest album. The Canadian rockers used more expansive and professional arrangements, and the result was a highly praised album, anchored by songs like “Crimson Tide.”

74 / 100
Plancha

#27. Suddenly by Caribou

- Best Ever Albums score: 152
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Dan Snaith put out his first album as Caribou since 2014 with “Suddenly.” Caribou’s work is cited as being “accessible and explorative” and “perfectly imperfect pop.

75 / 100
Partisan Records

#26. A Hero’s Death by Fontaines D.C.

- Best Ever Albums score: 154
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Irish band Fontaines D.C. has been churning out music since its formation in 2017. “A Hero’s Death” has drawn comparisons to The Beach Boys, and received five stars from The Guardian for creating an album of youthful despair.

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76 / 100
7 e.p.

#25. Microphones In 2020 by The Microphones

- Best Ever Albums score: 155
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 79

Indie rockers The Microphones continued experimenting with rock on “Microphones In 2020.” The album is a 45-minute search for meaning in various places, and shows lead singer Phil Everum hasn’t lost his creativity since The Microphones last album in 2003.

77 / 100
Nonesuch

#24. Lianne La Havas by Lianne La Havas

- Best Ever Albums score: 156
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 79

British singer Lianne Charlotte Barnes made a smashing debut in 2012 with “Is Your Love Big Enough?” Her third album, under her Lianne La Havas moniker, was equally exalted, and featured co-writing credits by Thom Yorke and Isaac Hayes. La Havas also drew inspiration from Prince on her self-titled record.

78 / 100
Polydor

#23. Women In Music Pt. III by Haim

- Best Ever Albums score: 173
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 78

Haim continue to churn out catchy pop rock tunes, and “Summer Girl” and “Now I'm in It” are two of their latest standouts. The Haim sisters picked up Grammy nods for their third studio album; they also recently appeared on friend Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Evermore.”

79 / 100
Warner Records

#22. Song Machine: Season One by Gorillaz

- Best Ever Albums score: 174
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 80

“Song Machine” is slated to be an ongoing web series of music videos with a variety of artists. Saint Vincent, Beck, and Elton John are some of the big names to appear in “Season One.” The album is as “bingeable” as any good TV series.

80 / 100
Chrysalis

#21. Song for Our Daughter by Laura Marling

- Best Ever Albums score: 174
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 78

British folk singer Laura Marling is dedicated to a fictional child. Marling was inspired by a Maya Angelou tome with a similar theme, and longtime collaborator Ethan Johns contributed to a majority of songs.

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81 / 100
Merge Records

#20. Saint Cloud by Waxahatchee

- Best Ever Albums score: 175
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Katie Crutchfield’s music project Waxahatchee became all the buzz in 2020, with indie folk stylings centered around songs about addiction. “Saint Cloud” was ranked the second best album of 2020 by Paste and Pitchfork, and made the Top 10 of several other notable lists.

82 / 100
PMR Records (3)

#19. What’s Your Pleasure? by Jessie Ware

- Best Ever Albums score: 178
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 78

England’s Jessie Ware may be the next big thing in disco pop music. “Spotlight” and “Ooh La La” were excellent nods to ’90s R&B and ’80s funk. Ware was praised for her smoother delivery on her fourth album.

83 / 100
Warner Records

#18. American Head by The Flaming Lips

- Best Ever Albums score: 182
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Oklahoma City’s favorite rock act released what some consider their best album in almost 40 years of making music. “American Head” maintains the Lips’ trademark psychedelic sounds, but also tinkers with new musings like songs about patriotism.

84 / 100
ESGN

#17. Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

- Best Ever Albums score: 182
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Freddie Gibbs has long been considered one of the best lyricists from the Midwest, and teaming with The Alchemist was a recipe for success. “Alfredo” features a mix of hardcore rhyme and mainstream stars like Conway the Machine and Rick Ross. The album stood out for its refined rawness.

85 / 100
Warner Records

#16. Circles by Mac Miller

- Best Ever Albums score: 182
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

This posthumous release by famed Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller satiated fans longing for new material and proved that at the top of his game, the young lyricist was full of wit and wisdom. Although the album is light on features, Miller produced almost every track with Jon Brion, and the chemistry is on full display on songs like “Circles” and “Good News.”

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86 / 100
Atlantic

#15. How I’m Feeling Now by Charli XCX

- Best Ever Albums score: 187
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Inspired by quarantine and lockdowns, Charli XCX’s fourth album is a breakthrough for the pop queen. Without relying on guest features, Charli XCX created the album in six weeks, often testing out material with fans on Instagram Live.

87 / 100
Republic Records

#14. After Hours by The Weeknd

- Best Ever Albums score: 205
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Few R&B musicians evolve like The Weeknd, who combine emo and alternative styles to foster a unique brand of soul. “After Hours” calls in big producers like Metro Boomin and Max Martin, but it’s The Weeknd’s lyricism that shines on songs like “Heartless.” The Toronto native is scheduled to perform at the next Super Bowl halftime show.

 

88 / 100
4AD

#13. Miss Anthropocene by Grimes

- Best Ever Albums score: 227
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

Grimes’ fifth album is part concept album/part electro rock camp. The album explores the ups and downs of celebrity, including drug overdoses. Slant named “Miss Anthropocene” its second best album of the year.

89 / 100
Warner Records

#12. Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

- Best Ever Albums score: 232
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 75

The second album by English pop star Dua Lipa has drawn comparisons to peak Kylie Minogue and later Madonna works. Gwen Stefani and Mark Ronson lend their magic to “Future Nostalgia,” which is nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys.

90 / 100
Asthmatic Kitty Records

#11. The Ascension by Sufjan Stevens

- Best Ever Albums score: 237
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 79

Sufjan Stevens released a solo album just months after giving fans a full-length LP of music recorded with his father. Love, family, and faith remain themes in Stevens’ work; the title track is considered one of Stevens’ best songs.

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91 / 100
Columbia

#10. Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan

- Best Ever Albums score: 244
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Bob Dylan has always been able to lend his voice when the times are changing. The lead single off this album, “Murder Most Foul,” caused some listeners to believe the song was about the death of John F. Kennedy and the coronavirus. Recently, Dylan sold his songwriting catalog to Universal Music.

92 / 100
Republic Records

#9. Folklore by Taylor Swift

- Best Ever Albums score: 247
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 76

Taylor Swift has become a master of the surprise album drop. Swift stunned fans with this July release, crafting an album that was more mellow and folk-rooted than previous works, and featured collaborations with Bon Iver and members of The National. On Dec. 10, Swifties rejoiced again when Swift unexpectedly announced a new album, “Evermore.”

93 / 100
Warp Records

#8. Heaven to a Tortured Mind by Yves Tumor

- Best Ever Albums score: 250
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 77

Sean Bowie, better known as Yves Tumor, has been a revelation in electronic music. “Heaven to a Tortured Mind” was named to top albums lists by Pitchfork, Paste, Stereogum, and Consequence of Sound, and praised for using samples from untapped discographies like Korean funk songs.

94 / 100
Matador

#7. Set My Heart on Fire Immediately by Perfume Genius

- Best Ever Albums score: 286
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 79

Michael Alden Hadreas has performed as Perfume Genius for more than a decade, uniquely mixing elements of pop, rock, and R&B. Pitchfork anointed him the “poet laureate of constant longing,” thanks to his songs about disconnection and misery on “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.”

95 / 100
Anti-

#6. Shore by Fleet Foxes

- Best Ever Albums score: 324
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 79

Although “Shore” is only Fleet Foxes’ fourth studio album, the Seattle folk rockers have been among the most consistent in the music business for more than a decade. “Shore” was very much inspired by events in 2020 like police violence and the coronavirus pandemic, and used samples from The Beach Boys and inspiration from activist Victor Jara. NME called the album a “bright look at life in the face of death.”

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96 / 100
Island Records

#5. The Slow Rush by Tame Impala

- Best Ever Albums score: 331
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 74

Australian pop extraordinaire Tame Impala went for a smoother sound on “The Slow Rush,” which still won over critics. Tame Impala picked up a Grammy nomination for his latest album, which features six-minute-plus long singles like “Borderline” and “Posthumous Forgiveness.”

97 / 100
Dead Oceans

#4. Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers

- Best Ever Albums score: 344
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 81

Phoebe Bridgers’ second album is an emo/folk whirlwind focused on the emotions of relationships. Bridgers was able to incorporate psychedelic tunes and lyrics packed with heart, with assistance from musicians like Conor Oberst.

98 / 100
BMG

#3. RTJ4 by Run The Jewels

- Best Ever Albums score: 367
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 81

Killer Mike and El-P, also known as Run The Jewels, timely delivered their fourth studio album during a year of social unrest. In June, the political rap duo said they hoped the album would bring some joy to listeners overwhelmed by the police violence in America that became worldwide news in 2020. The album features an all-star cast of collaborators like Mavis Staples, DJ Premier, and Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine.

99 / 100
RCA

#2. The New Abnormal by The Strokes

- Best Ever Albums score: 449
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 83

On New Year’s, The Strokes performed in Brooklyn and confirmed a new album was on the way. One of the songs they debuted that night, “Ode to the Mets,” was written after lead singer Julian Casablancas had witnessed a particularly crushing loss by his favorite New York baseball team. “The New Abnormal” was seen as a return to form for The Strokes, who revolutionized New York City rock in the early 2000s.

100 / 100
Clean Slate

#1. Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

- Best Ever Albums score: 533
- Best Ever Albums user rating: 83

While many artists try and pump out as much music as possible in the digital age, Fiona Apple has been deliberate with her releases. Surprisingly, she dropped her fifth studio album in April, a masterpiece that was a much needed salve for many at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the standout tracks, “Shameika,” was inspired by an elementary school colleague—a fellow musician whom Apple reunited with this year

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