Phoenix by Dirty Loops
Dirty Loops have been described as a muso’s wet dream. From Sweden, the three members – singer and pianist Jonah Nilsson, bassist Henrik Linder, drummer Aron Mellergård – are virtuosic classical and jazz-trained pop musicians. Phoenix, their first album since 2014’s Loopified, has been a while in the making because of creative differences, though this isn’t at all apparent from the music. As before, they’re so tight they sound like a single musician with six arms. The songs are fast and funky, full of syncopated stabs, hurried burblings of bass, instrumental solos, vocal runs and big choruses. The first three tracks are particularly fun.
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe’s skeleton suit is a perfect representation of the project, with its emo-folk dynamic best exemplified by the Halloween season. Her delicate, unique storytelling and vocals give the album an ethereal, haunting sound, something the closer, ‘I Know the End,’ has in droves. Other highlights include ‘Kyoto,’ ‘Garden Song,’ and the title track. Also, being 2020, the apocalyptic atmosphere throughout the album reminds us that maybe we aren’t so far from the end as we might think (but who really knows).
SAVAGE MODE II by 21 Savage and Metro Boomin
The production from Metro Boomin alone on ‘Savage Mode 2’ would be enough for it to be an album of the year contender. Yet, with 21 Savage’s rapping performance over the top of these instrumentals, it creates an album that is full of bangers. Both artists play to each other’s strengths with Metro’s production fitting 21’s style like a hand in a glove. Not to mention how the album transitions effortlessly between tracks with none other than Morgan Freeman narrating the project. With 2020 being a disrupted year for music, ‘Savage Mode 2’ stood out as my album of the year.
After Hours by The Weeknd
Dark, twisted, genius. Those are the three words I’d use to describe The Weeknd’s latest album, After Hours. Released in March of this year, it was exactly what I needed to get me through lockdown months. The success of the album speaks for itself, with Blinding Lights becoming his fifth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100.
This is an album best listened to with dimmed lights and an open mind. Even at its more uplifting points, the lyrics remain dark and the pop melodies dissonant, evoking euphoric happiness wherever you are.
The Horror and the Wild by The Amazing Devil
I was one of many who, after watching Netflix’s The Witcher, had ‘Toss a Coin to your Witcher’ stuck in my head. When I found out Joey Batey, who sang the song, was part of folk group ‘The Amazing Devil’ with Madeleine Hyland, I knew I had to give them a listen. Their music is part of that beating, powerful genre of alt-folk I couldn’t help but instantly fall for.
On the pair’s most recent album – The Horror and the Wild – tracks range from the badass titular ‘Horror and the Wild’ to the touching ‘Fair’; this awesome album somehow mixes the folkloric and mystical with allusions to Netflix and The Office without any feeling of incongruity.
Album cover looks cool too. Bonus.