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Albums Of The Year 2020

As 2020 draws to a close, GIG GOER’s staff present to you the Albums Of The Year.

Albums Of The Year 2020

In a year like no other, positivity and joy have been hard to come by as the global crisis has tremendously impacted upon all of us. But despite the hardships and the constant feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, there were many records that have offered us comfort and solace this year. With an all-consuming passion and acute vulnerability, we fearlessly danced to Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia and softly cried to LANY’s mama’s boy. We witnessed a resurgence of pop-punk in mainstream music as Machine Gun Kelly earned his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with Tickets To My Downfall, whilst All Time Low scored a number one hit with Monsters. We felt a visceral rage and inflamed passion when listening to Boston Manor’s GLUE, just moments before escaping to the fairy tale that is Taylor Swift’s Folklore. Taking into consideration some of the most extraordinary debuts we’ve heard this year (iDKHOW BUT THEY FOUND ME and Giant Rooks), as well as glorious returns from metal heavyweights such as Bury Tomorrow and Asking Alexandria, and indie sweethearts in Blossoms, we feel that we covered a huge variety of styles that stand behind GIG GOER’s ideals. Presented to you in no particular order, dive into our Albums Of The Year.

Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts

As soon as the mullet came out, you knew Miley Cyrus was going to go HARD for her next era. Plastic Hearts surpassed all expectations. Pulling influences and passion from pop, rock, and country, this gritty expose was destined for our end-of-year list despite being a late release. Songs like the punchy title track Plastic Hearts and High – a sonic nod to her Tennessee roots – helped earn Miley a spot on our list. The bass-heavy WTF Do I Know and Hate Me may share contrasting messages and stylistic choices, but unite to deliver strong performances and engaging lyricism. Miley’s rasp perfectly suits the classic rock sound she channels in songs like Angels Like You and Bad Karma (featuring Joan Jett), which comes as no surprise to fans that have been admiring her backyard sessions for years. Night Crawling, which features the legendary Billy Idol, and lead single Midnight Sky both lean heavily into the 80s pop-rock vibes that overarch much of the album. With the most Miley-esque song title, Golden G String, wrapping up the album succinctly, Plastic Hearts is both genre and decade defying while remaining a cohesive body of work. It is truly a defining moment for Miley. (Courtney Rogers)


Time seemed to be a foreign concept for most of us this year, as our days and nights blurred into one between Netflix binges and home-working. The abstract perception of it is certainly nothing new for iDKHOW though, who have been toying around with the concept since their inception. Bringing a sound that is both wonderfully nostalgic yet stylishly modern, their debut album evokes scenes of the roaring 20s, sprinkled with a glimmer of disco 80s through a cascade of synth textures and lavish vocals. From the infectiously groovy Sugar Pills, a hymn for the despondent and anxiety-ridden in their desire to search for a quick fix, the urge to have a boogie along is carried from the arcade-reminiscent electronics and pulsating bass lines through to the syncopated percussion of Lights Go Down and hedonistic finale Razzmatazz. When we’ve gotten confused between days, and minutes and hours blurred together, we found ourselves relying upon RAZZMATAZZ to provide a timeless and classic sound to anchor us and help us find the joy again. (Athena Kam)


Reconnecting with their origins yet reinventing themselves, Bring Me The Horizon’s POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR EP is nothing short of intimidating. The band shattered expectations and broke the boundaries of musical genre once again. With a futuristic thematic concept and predominantly electronicore sound, the EP not only paints a very peculiar, spine-tingling picture of reality through songs like Parasite Eve and Ludens, but also reveals an intense and thrilling musical direction as in Kingslayer. The EP is definitely an impressive fusion between the band’s thrilling avant-garde direction (Teardrops, 1×1) and their diverse tendencies throughout their back catalogue (Dear Diary, Obey), with high potential of pleasing both old-school and new-school BMTH fans for the first time in years. (Adriana Vasile)

LANY – mama’s boy

In the current times of chaos and uncertainty, LANY bring peace and love into our lives with the release of their third album. Wonderfully engineered, immaculate, and all-encapsulating, mama’s boy is 14 heartrending and inspirational songs designed to make you experience love and pain because to hurt and to feel is essentially and unequivocally human. Brimming with intimate moments and pure, unadulterated emotions, the record takes the classic LANY sound to a full-bodied study in alt-pop music. From power pop anthem you! to touching piano ballad if this is the last time, and with lovelorn yet sun-kissed classic LANY tunes in between (heart won’t let me, good guys, when you’re drunk), the album finds the band paying homage to their roots whilst blurring the lines between personal and universal values. An ode to love, family bonds, and heritage, mama’s boy is a step forward while looking back at the past through a lens of wisdom and accomplishment. mama’s boy is home and LANY are forever. (Kasia Osowiecka)

Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible

Innovative and genre-bending songwriting is nothing new for Enter Shikari, but the St Albans band has reached new heights on their sixth studio album Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible. Pushing themselves not only lyrically but musically as well, the album is described by lyricist Rou Reynolds as being their “definitive record”. Enter Shikari bring their pioneering electronicore sound and socially conscious writing and combine it with surprising new elements, the height of which is a symphonic orchestral piece that sounds like it came straight from an existential Studio Ghibli movie. Enter Shikari prove that, sonically, indeed everything is possible. (Anieck van Maaren)

Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death

Serving as the second album from Ireland’s finest new post-punk exports, Fontaines D.C., A Hero’s Death is a poetic triumph for both rock ‘n’ roll and Dublin respectively. Opening with I Don’t Belong, the stark and haunting vocals of Grian Chatten are accompanied by deep melodies and sharp, cutting guitars, setting the tone for this new age social commentary masterpiece. Other tracks such as Televised Mind have a dark undercurrent whilst title track A Hero’s Death screams confidence and is an exhilarating listen from start to finish. A total of 11 tracks make up this incredible body of work that cuts way above the rest within the post-punk scene. It’s clear that the band has a strong connection to poetry which has only enhanced the songwriting and soul-bearing honesty present on the album, penetrating through every track. With so much great music coming out of Ireland in recent years, it’s clear that Fontaines D.C. are paving the way for a whole host of other Irish artists despite A Hero’s Death only being their second album. It’s bold, brave and brilliantly designed, taking the listener on a journey of both politics and self-discovery. A Hero’s Death balances confidence and naivety to produce one of the most powerful and poetic albums of the last ten years. (Faith Martin)

HAIM – Women In Music Pt. III

Even though we’re including HAIM’s third album Women In Music Pt. III in our top albums of 2020, we’ve been living with its comforts since the first single Summer Girl was released July 31, 2019. WIMPIII has been a gorgeous, melodic lifeline of 2020, with many themes explored in its songs taking on new meaning during the pandemic. From the opening saxophone and drum line of Los Angeles, through to groovy and playful 3am, all the way to powerhouse bonus track Now I’m In It, HAIM display their unique artistry and creative souls. The entirety of WIMPIII feels like a deeply personal diary for the three sisters. HAIM chimed in on this when the album was released in June: “It was scary to open up this much on record but with all your support it made us feel safe to tell our stories.” It is this emotional relatability and vulnerability that makes WIMPIII not just a good album but an absolutely stunning effort from the group. There are songs to dance to and songs to cry to, and often during this year, that’s exactly what is needed. (Morgan Winston)

Sea Girls – Open Up Your Head

Popping onto our radars in 2017, Sea Girls have very quickly become one of the most adored bands on the indie scene. Their debut album, Open Up Your Head, was released earlier in the year and has given us everything we want and so much more. The album includes fan favourites All I Want To Hear You Say and Violet, in their staple indie-rock, anthemic glory. There’s a particular vulnerability coming through this album, as it confronts frontman Henry Camamile’s mental health struggles in tracks such as Do You Really Wanna Know? and Damage Done despite their upbeat façades. Sea Girls have created an uplifting, infectious, and, most importantly, honest debut, which is what makes it one of our albums of the year. 2021 will see the band heading out on their biggest UK and EU tour yet, theoretically, so get on the hype – it most definitely is worth it. (Zoe Waggitt)

Glass Animals – Dreamland

The third album from British quartet Glass Animals has been a stand-out, both in its creative exploration of soundscapes and in its confrontation with deep introspection. Delving into uncharted emotional territory, the album is almost autobiographical in nature, offering a never-before-seen perspective into the thoughts of frontman Dave Bayley. Drawing you into a realm of surreality through sugar-sweet electronic melodies in opener Dreamland, the work juxtaposes ethereal electronics with dark, and sometimes painfully honest, lyricism that weigh much heavier on listeners. Space Ghost Coast To Coast tackles the tragic topic of school shootings, while Domestic Bliss faces the troubling problem of domestic violence, but they’ve all been twisted through a kaleidoscopic sound lens that allows you to work your way through these dark implications. As we navigate through the confusion of life from this year to the next, Dreamland will be a guideline to accompany us through the journey. (Athena Kam)

5 Seconds Of Summer – CALM

Going above and beyond any of their previous releases, CALM is a monster album providing a brilliant collection of beautifully sung, produced, and written tracks, proving the calibre of 5SOS. Songs like the dark, moody Teeth and the breezy, acoustic Lover Of Mine showcase the band’s strong vocals while drawing you in with their catchy riffs. We would be remiss not to acknowledge Wildflower. With plucky guitars, cheeky lyrics, and an overall sunshine-quality, it is one of the best tracks on the album for making you smile and dance. Best Years is a suave, romantic number with an airy bridge. Angsty and with staccato enunciation, Not In The Same Way plays with the dark side of romance. Towards the end of the record, the band showcases their softer side with tracks like High and Lonely Heart. All said, there isn’t a bad song on CALM and, even nine months later, the replayability of this record remains. (Courtney Rogers)

Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

Grab a glass of wine, dim the lights, make yourself comfortable, and prepare to be immersed. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void will send you into a captivating world, infused with romantic and classy Hollywood vibes from the glamorous era when Elvis was walking the earth. Backed by a dramatic and grandiose punk rock soundtrack, the new Creeper ‘universe’ is dazzling, inviting and addictive, keeping you hooked until the very end. Each song reveals a new chapter of a twisted and ‘deadly’ love story, through the likes of Be My End, Cyanide, Poisoned Heart and Black Moon. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void is a modernized approach to an old-school manner of storytelling. Very carefully thought through and skilfully laid out, the twisted love story unravels gradually and seamlessly flows from song to song. (Adriana Vasile)

Halsey – Manic

In her most honest album yet, Manic kept many of the core aesthetic choices that listeners have come to love about Halsey while elevating her sound, creating a beautiful, raw, and undeniably catchy record. Brutal self-analysis is hidden behind charming, effervescent tracks like clementine, Graveyard, and I HATE EVERYBODY. While many songs still carry the Halsey punchiness that was recognizable on her previous albums, songs like Finally // beautiful stranger and 929 put her softer, acoustic side on show. The collaborations with Dominic Fike, SUGA, and Alanis Morissette were unique in that the tracks featured Halsey, not the other way around as is standard. Manic was a true show of Halsey’s musical prowess. (Courtney Rogers)

Palaye Royale – The Bastards

Raw, mad, brutal, honest and vulnerable is a strange cocktail of words but very accurate in describing Palaye Royale’s rollercoaster of an album in The Bastards. This album makes for a very courageous approach to dealing with the past (Lonely), letting out all of the rage that was bottled up inside (Nervous Breakdown), understanding its effect on the present and future (Fucking With My Head, Nightmares) and ultimately keeping one’s head up with self-confidence and an unyielding attitude as life carries on (Hang On To Yourself). Palaye Royale are well on their way to perfecting their unique sound and to see them experimenting with different rhythms, pushing vocal limits and allowing for vulnerability to surface can only point towards one thing: a sparklingly bright future as a band that will leave its mark on a generation. (Adriana Vasile)

Niall Horan – Heartbreak Weather

One Direction, who? Putting his boyband days well and truly behind him, Niall Horan has grown completely into his solo skin. Following the release of his slightly sombre debut album Flicker in 2017, this year we were graced with Heartbreak Weather, a much more confident sophomore work. Horan wrote this album almost as a concept album; he wanted to tell a story of love and, when you go through a breakup, the aftermath. Not just from his perspective, though, and not just the lows – “when you go through a breakup, it’s not all about me and sad all the time.” From the sensual hook-up anthem No Judgment, to the heart-breaking Put A Little Love On Me, and the ‘paint-the-town-red,’ bad boy mentality of Nice To Meet Ya, Horan makes you feel nothing and then everything all at once. Obviously the opening and ending tracks of an album are some of the most important – they form your first and lasting impressions – but Horan takes that to the extreme in this album. Eponymous Heartbreak Weather is bouncy, bass-y, and entirely feelgood, which is the complete opposite to Still, whose acoustic guitar alongside Horan’s echoey voice will leave you in tears as the album fades to silence. Honestly, what’s not to love? Here’s to whatever comes next. (Zoe Waggitt)

Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

Scotsmen Biffy Clyro have always had a special place in my heart and their Opus 8 A Celebration Of Endings had only made that place greater. Biffy Clyro are known for creating sonic fireworks with their unusual style (There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake, anyone?) and their newest album brings us no different. Combining striking string arrangements with deafening riffs, and ending on one of the most legendary tracks they have ever released, the band shows us once again why they have been a household name for eight albums straight. (Anieck van Maaren)

Bury Tomorrow – Cannibal

Anthemic, cathartic and rebellious, metal heavyweights Bury Tomorrow take a very personal approach in their new album Cannibal. As they dive deep into vocalist Dani Winter-Bates’ struggles with mental health, the album exposes an unadulterated and brave confession of his experience, as he takes control of the narrative and pushes himself to stay completely honest and unapologetic in his lyrics (Choke, The Grey (VIXI)). Alternating between dramatic yet sincere tunes focused on introspective scrutiny, with defiant, rioting songs making a disruptive stand against the status quo and advocating liberation, Cannibal comes as a masterfully balanced album. The impeccable and powerful vocals, remarkably dynamic guitars and heavily imperious drums are not only going to captivate and leave a mark on anyone who listens, but are also bound to place the album at the forefront of this year’s metal releases. (Adriana Vasile)

Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets To My Downfall

The quintessence of pop-punk, Tickets To My Downfall marks the latest reincarnation of the Rap Devil, proving that Machine Gun Kelly is the rockstar the world needs right now. In a year when everything seems to be falling apart, MGK finds himself on the highest of highs. Topping off his 2019 release, Hotel Diablo, with the Travis Barker-produced fifth studio album, Tickets To My Downfall cements MGK’s musical versatility and ability to float between genres with ease. Having collaborated with many artists in the scene over the years, the rapper certainly is not a newbie to the pop-punk and alt rock world, yet Tickets To My Downfall marks the biggest deviation from his signature sound. Pop-punk through and through, it’s a star-studded, rock-blasting and awe-inspiring compilation of songs that transports you straight back to the golden days of the early noughties pop-punk utopia. Set to be played front to back, the record paints a picture of a twisted love story, opening old wounds and chronicling intimate experiences while heading towards the inevitable catastrophe. From the roaring title track through to the sweeping and viscerally poetic pop-punk masterpiece bloody valentine to the tearjerker play this when i’m gone, the record features a plethora of guests, including Halsey (forget me too), Trippie Redd (all i know), and blackbear (my ex’s best friend). Embracing his inner emo punk, MGK defies expectations once again, and triumphs as he revitalises the pop-punk spirit on his new album. With a slick lyrical bite and metaphorical embellishment, Tickets To My Downfall is a naked emotion dressed in arena-worthy choruses and punchy instrumentals. It’s a snapshot of MGK’s songcraft mastery, artistry, and creativity. Oozing with unmatched determination and untamed, irrepressible passion, MGK has successfully become a genre-free musician, and with his EST movement going from strength to strength, there’s only one reference that seems fitting right now, and it is to his 2017 song Golden God and the lyrics: “20/20 vision, see the future / Looks like the crown do fit.” (Kasia Osowiecka)

Taylor Swift – Folklore

Instantly improving 2020 with her surprise drop of not just one, but two albums, Taylor Swift confirmed once again why she is so wildly popular. She has been re-inventing herself with each album, and this time around she comes out of the woodworks with mellow piano- and guitar-driven ballads. The indie folk sound on Folklore fits Swift’s voice perfectly, and with 17 tracks on the deluxe version, every song has something magical. Contrary to her previous works, Folklore is less autobiographical and depicts differing narrative standpoints that bring you on a journey through time. A gorgeous album throughout. (Anieck van Maaren)

Boston Manor – GLUE

We thought we’d seen anger when Boston Manor’s sophomore album Welcome To The Neighbourhood came out, but their third album GLUE has blown all of that out of the water. It’s truly been one of the most visceral and turbulent pieces of work we’ve heard, and managed to awaken the fire inside us which has been greatly dulled by endless days of work from home and lockdown. You can’t ignore the adrenaline and cacophony spilling through the speakers, and it’s a hammering reminder of all the passion that comes with being alive. From the pounding opener Everything Is Ordinary that slams into you with full-bodied drums and guitars, to the searing finale Monolith where screams of frustration let rip, the sustaining intensity of the album is hard to ignore. Whenever you feel wearied and jaded, this album will revive your spirit, reminding you that our work is far from done and that we all still have our part to play to leave this world a better place than we found it. (Athena Kam)

The Hunna – I’d Rather Die Than Let You In

Showcasing just how far they’ve come as a band, I’d Rather Die Than Let You In is The Hunna’s most progressive and bold album to date. From linking up with the likes of Travis Barker on Cover You, an anthemic, powerful and no-nonsense rock number, to honest, humble and cathartic tracks like One Hell Of A Gory Story… that intricately converses with the listener about how the early days of the band were tainted by poor management, to Dark Times that takes us through the struggles of the modern world whilst reminding us not to give up hope, these tracks help to detail the band’s journey to their third album and provide context for just how mature they’ve become. Even though things have drastically changed for the band in recent years, they’ve still managed to create an album that’s quintessential to their own sound whilst pushing themselves to make better tracks and test their limits. I’d Rather Die Than Let You In is full of ambition and confidence that shines through musically on every track, cementing the album as a must listen for anyone who has an affinity for rock. (Faith Martin)

Silverstein – A Beautiful Place To Drown

20 years in the biz together and Silverstein are going as strong as ever. The band broke down all walls, burnt every bridge, silenced every ghost of Silverstein past and started anew with A Beautiful Place To Drown. They welcome what state-of-the-art technology can do for them, embracing previously foreign sonic elements and above all reinventing themselves. The modernization is also clear in the topics of conversation and the attitudes in these songs, which are both relatable and also representative for today’s society as a whole (Bad Habits, Stop, Madness). Taking on this album with an open mind and drawing inspiration from the contemporary medium resulted in the creation of ultimate Silverstein tunes and also one of the star albums of 2020. (Adriana Vasile)

Declan McKenna – Zeros

Everyone, everywhere, was completely and utterly in awe of Declan McKenna’s 2017 What Do You Think About The Car?, as it formed a commentary on mental health and government incompetence. There was an extensive period of inactivity from McKenna, until he dropped Zeros earlier this year, the sophomore album that is just as – if not more – impressive than the first. A concept album that stands as a reflection on our own culture, McKenna commentates on various generational issues such as social media, fake news and seemingly multiple realities. Despite being only 10 tracks and 40 minutes long, the confidence and self-assuredness McKenna exudes gives the album a never-ending quality. Zeros features multiple pre-released tracks that listeners quickly became addicted to, such as The Key To Life On Earth and Beautiful Faces, but new tracks Rapture and Sagittarius A* have also been claimed by many a fan as their favourite. This album is so different to what anybody expected from the innocent, boy-next-door McKenna we all thought we knew, but it’s an experiment well paid off. (Zoe Waggitt)

All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine

No one can deny that 2020 was the year that pop-punk made a resurgence to the mainstream. With Monsters seeing a staggering 14 weeks (at time of publication) at number one, All Time Low are one of the reasons why. Their album, Wake Up, Sunshine, dropped in early April and provided hit after hit from start to finish. The first single, Some Kind Of Disaster hinted at a return to form for the pop-punkers. Tracks like Glitter & CrimsonSleeping In, and Clumsy are but a handful of the songs that solidified this return with bold guitars, standout percussion performances, and vivid lyricism. For those ‘cry into your pillow’ moments like the previously released song, TherapySafe is emotionally charged and a reminder to never give up. In such a grim year, All Time Low provided a bright spot spectacularly. (Courtney Rogers)

Blossoms – Foolish Loving Spaces

In a year like no other, Blossoms put out their third studio album Foolish Loving Spaces which earned them their second UK number one album as it debuted at the top of the charts. This 80s synth-pop jewel is filled to the brim with catchy melodies, truthful songwriting and anthemic choruses. Tracks such as Your Girlfriend feature slide keyboard and a percussion section that is, quite frankly, to die for. The infectious chorus will leave you singing for days whilst the track as a whole will lift spirits high. Romance, Eh? is as chilled as it is energetic. This flexibility makes Romance, Eh? the perfect tune for a Saturday night or a Sunday morning, whatever your plans. The relatable themes of love, heartbreak and homesickness run throughout the album seamlessly whilst the upbeat melodies provide a juxtaposition of emotion, allowing for the listener to choose between connecting deeply with the lyrics or listening at surface level – either way, you won’t be disappointed. The meticulous writing and merging of vocals and instruments make Foolish Loving Spaces an album for everyone, whatever your particular taste. This genre-fluid body of work will most definitely have something for everyone to enjoy. (Faith Martin)

Giant Rooks – Rookery

With a hint of lyrical surrealism and bittersweet melancholia, Germany’s hottest export Giant Rooks make a statement with their debut album, Rookery, serving us a delightful, cross-genre sonic cocktail. A project that’s spent years in the making, Rookery is a deeply thought through, uncompromising, and musically captivating body of work that acts as a realisation of the band’s unyielding spirit, songwriting prowess and lyrical finesse. Adamant in the creation of a sound that is solely their own, Giant Rooks continued honing their craft by fusing sparkling electro-pop subtleties and sleek hip hop beats with a Bon Iver-esque ethereal flair and classic rock ‘n’ roll storytelling. As a result, they’ve come up with something truly unique. Opening on a cinematic note, The Birth Of Worlds is the quintessence of modern rock music, whilst What I Know Is All Quicksand offers intriguing stylistic choices. Heat Up, Watershed, and Misinterpretations create stand-out moments on the record. Marrying the sounds of the past with the possibilities of the future, there is no doubt that Rookery is Giant Rooks on the eve of global stardom. (Kasia Osowiecka)

BLOXX – Lie Out Loud

BLOXX have come oh-so-far since showing up on the scene four years ago. What seemed like a timid bunch of people at first has turned into an unapologetically confident band, and this attitude and pride is shown entirely through their debut album, Lie Out Loud. Frontwoman Fee Booth uses catchy choruses and addictive vocals to sing about love, loss, and adolescence. The first half of the album is pure noise, sass, and energy, as seen with tracks such as Coming Up Short, Thinking About Yourself, as well as the album’s seemingly most favoured track, 5000 Miles. However, BLOXX haven’t been afraid to show a different side of themselves either, as there’s a sudden volta halfway through and the mood is switched up a little. Changes and What You Needed are soft, emotive anthems that definitely have the power to bring a tear to your eye. There’s been no new activity from BLOXX since they released the album in August, but fans have been made well aware that tracks for Album 2 are in progress. Exciting times. (Zoe Waggitt)

Troye Sivan – In A Dream EP

The worst part of In A Dream is that it’s only seven songs. Troye Sivan’s recognizable crackly drum pad beats and soothing synths coincide with more experimental and jagged stylistic choices to debut this new era. Easy is deceptively catchy, with a punchy beat but tragic lyrics, painting the adulterous story over jukebox synths. STUD is the kind of song you listen to in a sweaty club at 2am in a haze of colourful lights and infatuation, contrasting with the sweet and soft 10/10. Rager teenager! is the ultimate Troye Sivan song with its youthful nostalgia and longing over hazy, ringing synths. Closing out with the title track, IN A DREAM, Troye makes us fall in love with him all over again. Every track on this EP is a joy to listen to and the perfect dose of serotonin needed in 2020. (Courtney Rogers)

YUNGBLUD – weird!

The advocate of misunderstood souls YUNGBLUD returns with weird! – an emotional rollercoaster and hot and cold caricature of the modern youth experience. This album jumps through the highs and lows of being a peculiar individual on their journey towards self-acceptance, starting with the emotional teresa. Tapping into a variety of feelings, emotions and attitudes, the songs alternate through and cover everything from happiness (cotton candy) to sadness, between restlessness (strawberry lipstick) to contempt (it’s quiet in beverly hills). Covering the ground between irony and sarcasm (charity) to vulnerability and sincerity (love song), from alienation to belonging (mars), the album captures and relays the complex thoughts and encumbering challenges young people face nowadays. It mixes random ideas and comical lyricism with contrasting messages and melodies, ultimately creating a weird and not so well stirred cocktail of songs. weird! is a playful yet serious album, reminding us that YUNGBLUD delivers important messages underneath all the theatrical showmanship and ludicrous artistry of his melodies. (Adriana Vasile)

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Future Nostalgia takes all the best parts of pop, past and present, and mixes them into a witch’s brew of pure perfection. The lead single, Don’t Start Now was the perfect introduction to this album with its disco-infused beat. Each successive single such as the moody, vapourwave Physical with its orchestral synths and the dance-club banger Hallucinate proved the Dua’s vision and execution weren’t a one-off. Pretty Please is a sultry, funky number that showcases her strong vocals. Love Again is another glamourous, disco-inspired tune that stands out for strong orchestral arrangement. Sticking with the funky bass that is featured across most of the songs on the album, Good In Bed has an addicting chorus. The 2000s Britpop style is different from the rest of the album, but the underlying sonics tie it together. Future Nostalgia is a perfect example of defying critic’s expectations and creating an amazing record. (Courtney Rogers)

Asking Alexandria – Like A House On Fire

With one eternally feisty attitude, but ever-changing ways of expressing it, Asking Alexandria rise from the ashes once again with an intoxicatingly fresh sound and uninhibited avant-garde lyricism in their thought-provoking album Like A House On Fire. Following the prodigal son Danny Worsnop’s return, the band has reinvented themselves in Like A House On Fire and reached a bliss point. They adopt pop and electronic influences to complement an (arguably) established yet undeniably fresh take on rock and heavy metal in the likes of Antisocialist, Give You Up and They Don’t Want What We Want (And They Don’t Care). Like A House On Fire claims its place in the current rock climate’s top albums, with a largely appealing, definitely matured and modernized sound paired with an infectious, arrogant and assertive attitude (Down To Hell, It’s Not Me (It’s You), One Turns To None). They put forward not only one well-crafted song, but an entire album of independently strong tunes, which is something that few bands have achieved from the first time they experimented with elements from other genres. (Adriana Vasile)

blackbear – everything means nothing

‘Fuck you, and you, and you and you and you’ is a fittingly relatable opening to blackbear’s latest album, which cuts all the bullshit and brings you to the thoughts that run through his head. Whilst it’s not the most emotional tour-de-force and can seem shallow at times in its lyricism, is it so bad to just switch off and enjoy something numbingly catchy that doesn’t require any brainpower? Frankly, this year has been exhausting enough in itself, and the slick commercialness of everything means nothing is just the mindless distraction we welcome. Whether it’s the irresistibly catchy hot girl bummer or the in-my-feelings i feel 2 much, it’s glossy production and snappy finger clicks throughout. Although some might bemoan the generic nature and the lack of variety, it’s provided a coherency and constancy that’s been lacking in many other aspects of this year and the familiarity has tipped on the side of comfort. (Athena Kam)

Sports Team – Deep Down Happy

Nominated for The Mercury Prize, Deep Down Happy is the debut album from Cambridge rock band Sports Team. This upbeat and bright album features fan favourites like Here’s The Thing, a tongue and cheek look at the world and a slight dig at British politics. The straight-up guitars strip back the complications of music and deliver clean, concise melodies that any self-confessed indie kid can fall into and instantly feel immersed and comforted by. The cleverly constructed lyricism in tracks like The Races and Camel Crew showcase the band’s talent for songwriting. Mixing this formidable skill with good old-fashioned rock assist Sports Team in making Deep Down Happy a killer debut album. It makes a statement of intent that firmly unveils this four-piece as a force to be reckoned with. The truth is, any new band would be inspired by and slightly envious of the work Sports Team have managed to achieve on their debut album, with some bands not achieving such spotless design on any record they’ve previously released. Sports Team pushed the boundaries of what a young guitar band can achieve whilst staying firmly rooted to the ground. (Faith Martin)

Seaway – Big Vibe

Though a slight departure from the “Seaboiz” of old, Seaway’s 2020 album Big Vibe delivered exactly what they described: “windows down, volume up.” The titular track sets the tone for what listeners could expect and it did not disappoint. Coming in with high energy and retro aesthetics, Big Vibe is the first of many of its kind on the record. Mrs. David became a fan favourite with its fun and bold chorus. Still Blue is fast-paced and highly underrated. Pathetic is outrageously fun for such a self-deprecating song. Along with Wicked, it is most akin to old school Seaway, which makes a delightful treat for fans. Sweet Sugar serves early 2000s movie soundtrack in the best way possible. The Peach chorus is destined to be screamed at the top of your lungs and the whistling is a quirky addition. Listening to the closing track, Sick Puppy, you know it’s going to go hard live with the strong percussion performance and vocal-only moments. Seaway albums are always the perfect summer soundtrack, and Big Vibe follows its predecessors without a hitch. (Courtney Rogers)

The Used – Heartwork

Turn up your speakers as The Used’s 8th studio album Heartwork is going to teach you a state-of-the-art mixology masterclass of sounds and genres. The album has something to suit everybody’s taste, and it might also lead you to discover your new guilty pleasure in the form of an innovative and strange rock flavour (Cathedral Bell, 1984 (Infinite Jest), The Lottery, Darkness Bleeds, FOTF). It will make you feel happy, encourage you to aim high, draw out your negative feelings in a non-harmful way, help you look inside yourself through a different lens, challenge your fragility and rethink your brokenness… all while showing you the multitude of contexts and meanings you can attribute to the word ‘fire’. Without further spoiling this incredibly fun yet heavy album, I encourage you to give it a listen. (Adriana Vasile)

Donna Missal – Lighter

In March of 2020, Donna Missal was living a very different life, opening for Lewis Capaldi on a handful of UK dates. After returning to the US, there was a palpable shift. “End of an era for sure,” as Missal wrote in a March 13 Instagram post. Just two months later, Missal announced the pending release of Lighter. Sometimes it feels like Lighter is the best kept secret of 2020. It is an album that has many internally screaming, “how do more people not know about Donna Missal yet?!” It is an album that is hard to describe in words. There is such power and maturity in Missal’s voice and lyrics; they carry the listener throughout the tracks, guiding through anger and heartbreak. Lighter is quite a stylistic departure from Missal’s debut album This Time (2018), giving her fans a unique experience that is just as impactful as her debut. Her creativity and adaptability make us excited to see what could be in store for Missal in the next few years. Not to mention, the music video for How Does It Feel is one of the most beautiful released in 2020. (Morgan Winston)

Marsicans – Ursa Major

Fully self-funded, Ursa Major is the debut record from Leeds quartet Marsicans. This pop-rock spectacular features glittering guitar anthems like Can I Stay Here Forever (Pt. II) and Juliet. As a band that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries and mix genres, Marsicans used a myriad of musical interludes and stand-alone anthems to create one of Britain’s best indie albums this year. While they are known for their high energy pop tunes, they also weren’t afraid to strip it back and create atmospheric ballads like Someone Else’s Touch that deal with themes around romantic breakups and loss. Following the musical soundscape of a night out, the album starts rather energetic and upbeat, before travelling through to the 2AM stumble out the bar with Blood In My Eye, a soulful and cinematic ballad that plays with the emotions of the listener. This rule bending, boundary-pushing album proves that creative freedom and passion for music are two very powerful forces when put together. Whilst remaining optimistic and firmly grounded to their roots in Leeds, Marsicans show that anything is possible with a love for music. (Faith Martin)

Knuckle Puck – 20/20

Knuckle Puck have been a household pop-punk name since the critically acclaimed release of Copacetic in 2015, and newest release 20/20 proves to fit their discography just right. The album was originally postponed from the start to the end of 2020, with some singles released throughout the summer in the hopes of a lessened impact of the coronavirus by then, but the album turned out to be exactly what people need during this difficult time. 20/20 has got it all; a mature break-up anthem, a sunny summer banger, but most importantly, a reminder to stay calm and seize the day. It’s a solid pop-punk record that perfectly displays the band’s growth and makes 2020 just a little less awful. (Anieck van Maaren)

Joan – cloudy EP

While everyone else in the indie-pop world was pulling from eighties synths, joan moved a decade ahead by including elements of nineties and noughties pop on their cloudy EP. A refreshing step away from the many clones in the genre, joan’s sweet lyrics mixed with their taste-making musicianship puts this baby on our top releases list. The chorus to want u back is probably one of the catchiest pieces of music released this year. This song alone verifies their inclusion on our list, but the best part of cloudy is that every single song is good. Romance is a strong overarching theme on the EP, with songs like the romantic power ballad magnetic and boy-band influenced cover girl, as well as the breakup anthem brokenhearted. All in all, the cloudy EP is delightfully nostalgic without being the slightest bit tacky. (Courtney Rogers)

The Amity Affliction – Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them

The Amity Affliction talk death, mental illness, loneliness and dreams in their heaviest album to date. The band took these themes very seriously in Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them and looked at them from all the angles, exploring a plethora of nuances. Song by song, the album tells a different story inspired by previous pain, digging deeper into its cause and meaning as in Soak Me In Bleach and All I Do Is Sink. The album puts forward an intriguing concept governed by cyclicity, which is implemented in its every aspect, from message to sound. It talks about the most pressing issues that today’s artists face and paints a comprehensive picture on what it means to suffer from mental illness (Baltimore Rain, Catatonia), circling through surreal and relatable representations. I think that the best thing about this album is the way it manages to condense so many themes, feelings and sounds together, through individually remarkable songs that ultimately fit perfectly together, like pieces of a puzzle. (Adriana Vasile)