Not much to say for this year. Overall, I didn’t fall in love with anything (but I also didn’t listen to as much as I’d have liked to either).
1. Phoebe Bridgers — Punisher
Came to this late, but it’s fantastic.
2. Taylor Swift — Folklore
Thank god the Reputation era is behind us.
3. Haim — Women in Music Pt. III
The songs here are a bit hit or miss, and the production is criminal. But Haim are still awesome, and the highs are very high. Top song of the year:
4. The Regrettes — How Do You Love?
The lyricism leaves something to be desired at times, but the melodies are great, and the bubble gum California vibe was a great antidote to 2020.
5. Beach Bunny — Honeymoon
More sunny California power pop.
6. Sturgill Simpson — Cuttin’ Grass (Vol 1 & 2)
Sturgill Simpson put out two bluegrass albums this year, covering his own back catalog. I’m no bluegrass aficionado, but I find them very well done, and the rock solid songwriting shines through. Some of these takes are revelatory—I’ve worn out Metamodern Sounds in Country Music over the past 5 years, but I feel like I’m actually hearing Just Let Go and A Little Light for the first time.
7. Waxahatchee — Saint Cloud
Tremendous songwriting, as always.
8. Grimes — Miss Anthropocene
Grimes only gets weirder, but for the most part the songs here are great, whether bangers like 4ÆM or pop numbers. I do wish she’d lighten up on the campy theatrics a bit. Her songwriting and performance are fantastic even when stripped down (relatively).
9. Lydia Loveless — Daughter
Can get a bit whiny at times, but super strong songwriting.
10. The War on Drugs — Live Drugs
Unlike the Sturgill Simpson album, this isn’t much of a departure from the existing recordings of these songs. But I love it for the excuse to dive back in. I saw the War on Drugs live during this era (on the Lost in the Dream tour)—they’re phenomenal live, and the album is true to life.