Six months down, six months to go. 2020 has felt like a grudgingly long year so far due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t have to keep us mired in a state of incurable misery. That’s because we have music to comfort us. With half a year to go, there’s still a lot of great new music set to come out (pending any delays due to the ongoing health situation). At least, it’ll give you something to look forward to when weddings and vacations are out of the picture.
From the aura of indie folk and pop-rock to the zest of pop-punk and metalcore, we’ve marked our calendars with a handful of highly anticipated releases across the back half of 2020. (Unfortunately, Adele won’t be a part of that picture, at least until next year). Let’s take a look at some of the records we’re most excited for as the year trudges on, as well as a handful of others we expect at some point.
Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void | July 31
In less than three years, Creeper went from rising stars to rising from the ashes. After announcing their breakup on stage in late 2018, the gothic pop-punkers came back in full force exactly a year later. Album two comes in late July, and early singles find the band adding My Chemical Romance theatrics to a sound built on AFI energy and Misfits style. If “Be My End” and “All My Friends” are signs of things to come, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void is going to be quite the follow-up — one that brings out the spirit of David Bowie while simultaneously surging the group up the modern punk ranks.
Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death | July 31
Dogrel was the big breakthrough for Fontaines D.C. in 2019, and the band is back and ready for more just over a year later. With a time capsule of British influences, from ‘60s jangle pop to ‘90s Britpop (and everything in between), the Dublin natives are more than just a handful of respectable musical nods. They, along with Idles, Viagra Boys, and many others are fronting a resurgence of post-punk full of smarts and swagger. A Hero’s Death shows plenty of respect for its elders already, with some admirable distortion: The title track is a drug-trip version of The Strokes, while “Televised Mind” riffs on the mystical side of Ride.
Stand Atlantic – Pink Elephant | August 7
Stand Atlantic no longer has to prove they’re more than just another female-fronted pop-punk outfit. Skinny Dipping sold us on Bonnie Fraser’s pipes and the band’s knack for tight hooks, and the singles off Pink Elephant (they’ve already released a whopping five!) further highlight their ability to stand out. Album two is preparing to take pop-punk fans by storm as a breath of fresh air — not by doing anything different but simply by having more replay value than their peers. “Hate Me (Sometimes)” has been stuck in our head since it came out last September, and the rest of the record is sure to follow suit.
Year of the Knife – Internal Incarceration | August 7
Ultimate Aggression was a thrashy ball of hardcore energy that left us wondering how great Year of the Knife would sound with better production. That time will come in early August when the band puts out their Kurt Ballou-produced debut, Internal Incarceration. The Delaware straight edgers join a growing list of household hardcore names signed to Pure Noise Records, which includes Knocked Loose, Left Behind, and Sanction. What separates the fivepiece from the pack — beside a familial lineup that features twin brothers and a married couple — is their unrelenting catharsis, which we expect to feel with even greater force on the new LP.
PVRIS – Use Me | August 28
After quashing any rumors of a sophomore slump with All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, PVRIS is back with even more to prove with album three, Use Me. This comes after last year’s pop curveball: a stellar five-track EP that found the band mostly impressing with their venture into greater pop and electronic territory. The new path for the trio, who have grown to immense heights within alternative music, is plastered with bright lights and radio potential (see: “Death of Me”). Ease your worries, PVRIS fans: with the mainstream move, we still anticipate the pop-rock pulse you know and love.
Fit for a King – The Path | September 18
Fit for a King has come a long way since Descendants. Once the most improved band in metalcore, the Texans are quickly becoming one of the most consistent acts in the scene. The Path is set to be their fourth stellar release in a row, building on the accessibility of Dark Skies with even bigger choruses and thicker riffs. “Breaking the Mirror” sounds like if “The Price of Agony” had Shadows Fall pumping through its veins, while “God of Fire” reminds us that melody always gives way to big breakdowns. Get ready for the “soundtrack to your victory,” as vocalist Ryan Kirby puts it, as this will be a record to scare off your demons to.
Idles – Ultra Mono | September 25
Idles is about to take the music world by storm once again with Ultra Mono, the Bristol band’s next entry in an impressive catalogue of post-punk revival. This is coming from an artist that rejects not only the label of “post-punk,” but also “punk” in general. After all, they’re bigger than that, and they’re out to break all genre boundaries as they explore the angry, the upbeat, and the surreal. Lead single “Mr. Motivator” highlights the latter of the descriptions with satirical lyrics and Joe Talbot’s vocal gruff. With a greater handle of hooks and melody, Idles is furthering their status as a vital group in contemporary heavy music — and this album will make sure of that.
Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension | September 25
2015’s Carrie & Lowell firmly planted itself as Sufjan Stevens’ magnum opus, before he made several collaborative (and largely forgettable) tangents. It’ll be a tall order for the singer-songwriter to live up to the record’s emotional release and immaculate impact now that he’s back to his solo career again, but he’ll make an admirable effort with The Ascension, due out in September. Released first, album closer “America” sure makes an impression — a 12-minute-long one, that is. Harkening back to the experimental indie pop of The Age of Adz, it’s an initial look at a musician moving from personal to communal pain, while pushing into more grandiose territory than ever.
Further in the Future
Angels & Airwaves: The mythology of Blink-182 keeps surging, but Angels & Airwaves reminds us Tom Delonge is here to stay. He says the upcoming AVA sounds like the direction he wanted to take Blink.
The Cure: They haven’t released anything meaningful since the ‘90s, but The Cure’s legacy continues to grow. The gothic rockers are ready to put out their first new album in 12 years this fall.
A Day to Remember: We’ve hardly heard from A Day to Remember since they delayed the release of You’re Welcome last fall, but expectations are that — following three hook-laden singles — it’ll be here soon.
Deftones: The 20th anniversary of White Pony has us adoring Deftones all over again. Coinciding with the celebration, Abe Cunningham says the first album from the band in four years is due this September.
Every Time I Die: Though a longer album cycle than we’re used to from the Buffalo metal players, Keith Buckley promises Every Time I Die’s upcoming release — a 16-song anti-Trump affair — is their best yet.
Lana Del Rey: Following up our staff’s favorite album from 2019, Lana Del Rey is taking a bold and unblazed path for her next effort: a spoken-word accompaniment for her first book of poetry.
Silent Planet: Cavernous and technical, “Trilogy” got us hyped for new Silent Planet tunes. Let’s hope the pandemic didn’t put too much of a dent in our hopes for LP #4 from the metalcore monolith.
SZA: Lots of rumors have surrounded a new SZA album in 2020, including possibilities of retirement (yeah, okay). While we don’t know when or even what she’s putting out this year, our guess is that it arrives soon.