The world is a complicated mess right now, unloading more stress and anxiety into our lives every day. Much to our (very understanding, yet bummed) dismay, bands are postponing tour dates and album releases, leaving much of the music world in a near standstill.
At least, that’s how it seems. With such uncertainty in our lives, it’s very understandable if you’ve kinda tuned out and missed the new releases this year. But this is exactly what music is for: transporting and motivating and calming us in tough times.
So if you’ve been busy elsewhere, here is a crash course in the albums released so far in 2020, and some we get to look forward to later in the year.
Tame Impala — The Slow Rush
It’s been five years since Tame Impala’s last LP release Currents, so to say this new release was highly anticipated is an understatement. The Slow Rush filters their signature psychedelic pop/rock sound through a nostalgic lens, resulting in hypnotic songs to distract you from the world outside.
Kevin Parker’s music project provides the perfect atmospheric tones for whatever your day holds.
[Listen to: “Borderline,” “Breathe Deeper,” “Lost In Yesterday,” “Glimmer”]
All Time Low — Wake Up, Sunshine
Wake Up, Sunshine is a great summertime album, feeling upbeat and utterly pop-punk from start to finish, regardless of the subject of the song. The album feels nostalgic, with moments sounding like they were plucked straight from their early-career work.
It’s nice to see The Band CAMINO picking up traction with their feature on this album in the song “Favorite Place.” The album also boasts a feature with Blackbear on the track “Monsters.”
[Listen to: “Sleeping In,” “Favorite Place,” “January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1),” “Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt. 2)”]
Echosmith — Lonely Generation
The world was a different place when Lonely Generation was released in January. It was an even more different place when Echosmith’s last full-length album Talking Dreams came out in 2013. The band has come a long way since “Cool Kids” was dominating airwaves.
Lonely Generation is an honest and open look into the lives of this family trio, while remaining relatable for listeners everywhere.
[Listen to: “Diamonds,” “Last Forever,” “Scared To Be Alone,” “Love You Better”]
Boston Manor — Glue
The heaviest entry on this list comes from British punk outfit Boston Manor. Glue is relentless, cathartic and powerful. In other words, it’s Boston Manor. The album’s got a healthy dose of screaming distortion that never sounds off-putting, and enough tangible passion to keep the repeat button locked down.
An angry record for an angry time.
[Listen to: “Plasticine Dreams,” “Only1,” “Stuck in the Mud,” “Liquid”]
Oh Wonder — No One Else Can Wear Your Crown
I’d classify No One Else Can Wear Your Crown as gentle indie pop. There are some radio-ready moments, like in their single “Happy,” but otherwise, the album is a little sleepy without venturing into the dream pop genre. Sometimes that’s what you want when the world is hectic.
[Listen to: “In And Out Of Love,” “Nothing But You”]
Purity Ring — Womb
Speaking of dream pop, let’s look at Purity Ring. While the occasional gruesome references in their songs aren’t for everyone, Megan James’ haunting vocals may have you overlooking those lyrics.
Side note: did you know the members of Purity Ring have writing credits on three Katy Perry songs from her album Witness? It just goes to show you how versatile their songwriting style is.
[Listen to: “pink lightning,” “femia,” “almanac”]
The Strokes — The New Abnormal
The New Abnormal is The Strokes’ first album in seven years, yet it sounds like no time has passed at all. Julian Casablancas’ seemingly lackadaisical vocal style is as prominent and endearing as ever, and partnered with their to-the-point lyricism, you’ve got a classic Strokes album. Sometimes you just want to feel like a punk skateboarder in the 90s all over again.
[Listen to: “The Adults Are Talking,” “Selfless,” “Why Are Sundays So Depressing”]
Birds of Tokyo — Human Design
Aussie band Birds of Tokyo released their first single off of Human Design, “Unbreakable,” back in 2018. Two years later and we finally have the album in full. Human Design is punctuated by a raw documentation of frontman Ian Kenny’s broken marriage. So if you’re currently going through a breakup, this may be the album for you.
[Listen to: “Good Lord,” “Designed,” “Never Going Back”]
Hayley Williams — Petals For Armor
The leading lady of hit band Paramore makes her solo album debut with Petals for Armor. The album is broken into three parts; the first two having been previously released as EPs (Petals for Armor I and II). Williams bears her soul in each of the 15 songs, singing about her struggles with divorce, trauma and depression.
And while Paramore has seen some rocky days in the past, Williams assured fans that this release does not spell doom for the band.
[Listen to: “Leave It Alone,” “Dead Horse,” “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris,” “Crystal Clear”]
Carly Rae Jepsen — Dedicated Side B
Just as we were graced with a B side of 2015’s brilliant Emotion, Jepsen brought us 12 brand new tracks as a part II of last year’s 80s pop-infused Dedicated.
Dedicated Side B is a seamless continuation of side A and brings with it a boost of energy for those in need (which is probably all of us). That’s why she gets an “alt” pass even though she’s purely pop. Dark days need bright lights.
[Listen to: “Stay Away,” “This Is What They Say,” “Summer Love,” “Comeback”]
What’s in store for the rest of 2020
Of course, there’s still over half a year left ahead of us, and with that, many more releases to look forward to. Here are just a handful of confirmed releases (as of May 26), with more likely on the way once society starts to see an upswing.
June 26: HAIM — Women in Music Pt. III
July 10: Pvris — Use Me
July 24: Neck Deep — All Distortions Are Intentional
September 5: Lana Del Rey — Chemtrails Over The Country Club
Unscheduled/postponed: The Killers (Imploding the Mirage), OneRepublic (Human)
Featured image of Kevin Parker courtesy of Andy Witchger via Wikimedia.