Happy end of 2019! Although I don’t think this was the best year for music in the decade, there are some gems and a lot of growth for a few artists. Here are my top 20 albums of the year.
20. (Sandy) Alex G – House of Sugar
19. Megan Thee Stallion – Fever
18. Hovvdy – Heavy Lifter
17. Turnover – Altogether
16. Harry Styles – Fine Line
15. Blood Orange – Angel’s Pulse
14. Kaytranada – Bubba
13. Omar Apollo – Friends EP
12. Rico Nasty – Anger Management
11. Maggie Rogers – Heard It in a Past Life
10. JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs
9. Flume – Hi This Is Flume
8. Young Thug – So Much Fun
7. Beabadoobee – Space Cadet EP
6. James Blake – Assume Form
5. 100 Gecs – 1000 Gecs
A tough listen at first, but once you get it, you get it. 100 Gecs, composed of duo Dylan Brady and Laura Les took the “uncool” sounds of the early 2000s and created an almost genre-less album. Experimental electronica could be a way to describe their sound, or Spotify has them on a playlist called “hyperpop.” “Hey you lil’ piss baby, you think you’re so fucking cool?
Huh? / You think you’re so fucking tough? / You talk a lotta big game for someone with such a small truck.” The intro for “Money Machine” speaks for itself. Check out this album if you haven’t already, since it’s one of the most bold albums of the year.
4. Clairo – Immunity
Immunity is Clairo’s debut album produced by Rostam of Vampire Weekend. I fully admit I was embarrassed and reluctant to like Clairo due to rumors of her being an industry plant but Immunity changed my whole perspective on her. She captures the emotions of growing pains as a young woman in this generation. Some songs such as “Alewife,” “Closer to You,” and “I Wouldn’t Ask You” move me to tears. So, thank you to Claire for this album; it couldn’t have come at a better time for me!
3. DIIV – Deceiver
DIIV’s Deceiver is lead singer Zachary Cole Smith’s sound of recovery, written and recorded post rehab. The album is not a dream pop wonder that 2012’s Oshin was. Deceiver is less refined and moody, which draws me into the album more than any of their other work. The guitars are sludgy underneath lyrics that admit to faults. This is an honest work with broody instrumentals that impact listeners in a completely new way.
2. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Lana Del Rey started out as an artist who wasn’t taken seriously. She was mocked and her authenticity was constantly questioned. NFR proves that Lana is one of this decade’s strongest songwriters. This is one of my top albums of the year due to her unmatched growth. This is a quote from Lana from a 2017 interview with Pitchfork in regards to her song “Black Beauty” from Ultraviolence: “I was connected to that feeling of only being able to see a portion of the world in color. And when you feel that way, you can feel trapped.” (At this, Lana begins to cry, and we pause for a moment). Compare this to the title of an NFR track: “Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it.”
1. Tyler, the Creator – Igor
Tyler has been a driving force in internet rap, streetwear, and current rap culture this decade. Odd Future influenced an entire generation of artists and gave birth to the careers of Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and Syd to name a few. Igor takes us through the story of a euphoric relationship that is vanishing before his eyes. It’s cinematic, vivid, and vulnerable, a side of Tyler that we only started to get a glimpse of with the release of Flower Boy in 2017. It is my favorite album of the year due to Tyler’s emergence as a storyteller through and through.