Here are the 10 best albums of the year so far
Now that the first six months of the year are officially over, it's a good opportunity to take stock of what the best albums have been released so far.
It's been a rough first half of 2020 for all of us, but at least there's been some amazing music to see us through the hard times.
Below are ten of the albums that we've been returning to most over the past six months...
1. DUA LIPA – 'Future Nostalgia'
We knew she was good, we just didn't know she was this good. The Londoner followed up a stellar debut with an album that has been on constant rotation for us since its release in March. From the zippy 'Physical' to the brilliant 'Don't Start Now' and 'Break My Heart', it's probably one of the best pop albums we've heard in years.
2. MARGARET GLASPY – 'Devotion'
This album has flown under the radar since its release, but take our word for it – it's well worth checking out. The New York-based Glaspy's second album, which is all about the ups and downs of being in love, incorporates the burble of electronics on some tracks, a far cry from her folk and alt-rock-based debut – but she nails it on songs like 'Killing What Keeps Us Alive'. Others, like the wonderful 'Stay With Me', are just melodically perfect.
3. PHOEBE BRIDGERS – 'Punisher'
It's only been out a week, true – but we've fallen head over heels for Phoebe Bridgers' second album. Some songs are hauntingly atmospheric ('Garden Song'), others are dynamic indie tunes ('Kyoto') and others still are sweet folk-tinged numbers ('Savior Complex'). It's a record we know we'll keep returning to.
4. RSAG – 'Chroma'
It may have taken him ten years, but Kilkenny man Jeremy Hickey's third album was worth the wait. This is an album for fans of bands like LCD Soundsystem, !!! and Talking Heads; some songs are glitchy, twitchy indietronica tunes; others are syrupy and ethereal. It's hard to strike that balance across ten tracks, but Hickey succeeds – and how.
5. ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER – 'Sideways to New Italy'
If jangly indie-rock is your thing (and it's definitely ours), you'll love the second album from this Melbourne band. Having spent loads of time on the road touring their 2018 debut 'Hope Downs', they wanted to make an album that reminded them of home. Whatever the concept, the band's three writers/singers have created a collection of gloriously melodic indie tunes.
6. HAIM – 'Women in Music Pt. III'
Their best album yet? You'd better believe it. Este, Danielle and Alana Haim have poured more of themselves into their third album than ever before, and it pays off. These personal songs – some of which deal with their own troubles, the illness of a loved one and the shite they've had to deal with from the music industry – zing, hum and pop in all the right places.
7. AOIFE NESSA FRANCES – 'Land of No Junction'
For many people (including us), this debut album came out of nowhere, but we've been completely entranced by it since it was released in January. It's woozy, otherworldy folk-rock that takes you to another place, thanks to the Dublin native's gorgeous voice and the general 1970s vibe - best heard on songs like 'Libra' and 'Blow Up'.
8. PERFUME GENIUS – 'Set My Heart on Fire Immediately'
Mike Hadreas has, until now, remained something of a cult hero to musos – and let's face it, his fifth album is unlikely to make him a household name. That's no reason to dismiss this album, though; this is a beautifully delicate, understated collection of indiepop songs with a burbling undercurrent of bristling emotion. Listen on headphones for the full effect.
9. THE STROKES – 'The New Abnormal'
We may be victims of nostalgia on this one, but there's nothing wrong with that. For us, The Strokes' sixth album was a return to form after the pretty awful 'Comedown Machine' in 2013. Julian Casablancas' drawl was in fine fettle, tunes like 'Bad Decisions' brought us back to the New Yorkers' heyday, and songs like 'Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus' and 'At the Door' managed to get away with using synthesisers. Just about.
10. THE WEEKND – 'After Hours'
If you ask us, everyone needs a bit of a synth-addled r'n'b in their lives – and The Weeknd is one of the finest purveyors of that particular niche. Abel Tesfaye's fourth album created its own distinct late night ambience on songs like 'Heartless' and the schmoozy deep grooves of 'Escape from LA'. This is the sort of album Justin Bieber wishes he was cool enough to pull off.