The 40 Albums We’re Most Excited About in 2020

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The 40 Albums We’re Most Excited About in 2020

Remember 2019? Ahh, those were the days. Lizzo, Big Thief, Weyes Blood….we’ll never forget you. But 2019 is now in the past, and with 50 (or more) new favorite albums to hold dear, we’re skipping into the new year and decade as hopeful as ever—at least where music is concerned. A few pop and hip-hop heavyweights like Rihanna and Run The Jewels are due for new releases, as are beloved indie rockers like Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Soccer Mommy. And while we can only speculate as to when (or if) those records will arrive, the next two months are mapped out more securely. Bombay Bicycle Club, Drive-By Truckers, Tame Impala, Grimes—the list goes on. Quarter one of 2020 could be spectacular, and we have high hopes for the rest of the year, too. Here are the albums our staff is most excited about, listed in order by release date.

1. The Big Moon: Walking Like We Do
Jan. 10

Following their Mercury Prize-nominated 2017 debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, all eyes are on The Big Moon for album number two. With their new LP, Walking Like We Do, there are less sonic constraints, but their guitar pop is equally life-affirming. —Lizzie Manno

2. Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
Jan. 17

This is not a drill: Bombay Bicycle Club are back after a three-year official hiatus. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong will be their first release as a group since 2014’s So Long, See You Tomorrow. Along with the album and tour announcements, the band released a playful music video for lead single “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You).” —Amanda Gersten

3. Andy Shauf: The Neon Skyline
Jan. 24

Canadian indie-folk musician Andy Shauf has already released a few charming singles from his forthcoming concept album The Neon Skyline, including “Things I Do.” In a similar fashion to Shauf’s 2016 record, The Party, The Neon Skyline’s structure follows a storyline that takes place over the course of a night, according to a press release: “The interconnected songs on The Neon Skyline, all written, performed, arranged and produced by Shauf, follow a simple plot: The narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up.” —Hayden Goodridge

4. Destroyer: Have We Met
Jan. 31

Indie-rock’s modern crooners, Destroyer, have released the anthemic lead single “Crimson Tide” from their forthcoming album, Have We Met. The song is rife with singer Dan Bejar’s elegant ramblings and comes with a surrealist music video that’s as invigorating as the song itself. “Crimson Tide” is Destroyer’s first release since 2017’s Ken but shows the outfit continuing down the electronic tone their past record set. It opens with a deep bass line and choral synths, setting the stage for Bejar’s lyrical waltz. In his trademark stream-of-consciousness delivery, he delivers witty quips—odd as they are charming. He sounds delightfully disheveled as he sings, “When lightning strikes twice the funeral goes completely insane.” —Hayden Goodridge

5. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling
Jan. 31

The kings of country-rock and outspoken wisdom, Drive-By Truckers, are returning this year with their 12th studio album, following 2016’s American Band and the 2018 release of the long-lost Adam’s House Cat album Town Burned Down, which featured Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley before their Truckers days. The Unraveling arrives after a prolonged period of writer’s block for Hood and Cooley, easily one of the most impressive songwriting pairs in music’s recent history (we named them some of the best living songwriters back in 2006). On The Unraveling, they pick up right where American Band left off, with searing political commentary and a sharp look at the harsh realities of modern American life. —Ellen Johnson

6. Frances Quinlan: Likewise
Jan. 31

Frances Quinlan has one of the most instantly recognizable voices in indie rock. As the lead singer of Philadelphia band Hop Along, she’s been at the front of two of this decade’s best rock albums, 2014’s Painted Shut, which landed on Paste’s best albums of the 2010s list, and 2018’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog, one of our favorite albums of that year. Hop Along originally began as Quinlan’s solo project, but now she’s releasing her first-ever solo album under her own name. The first single, “Rare Thing,” is a real stunner and surely a harbinger of things to come. Quinlan recorded the album with her Hop Along bandmate Joe Reinhart, who encouraged her to explore new sounds, at The Headroom studio in Philly. —Ellen Johnson

7. Squirrel Flower: I Was Born Swimming
Jan. 31

Squirrel Flower (aka Ella O’Connor Williams) is releasing her Polyvinyl debut, I Was Born Swimming, at the end of the month. She made a splash with lead single “Red Shoulder,” a wrenching rock tune that pairs her poised vocals with scorching guitars, sounding astoundingly alive. “Headlights,” Williams’ second track from the record, is practically its opposite—a soft, shimmering track that proves she’s just as excellent in the realm of tender introspection. —Amanda Gersten

8. TORRES: Silver Tongue
Jan. 31

Last summer, Torres (aka Mackenzie Scott) announced that she was readying an album with her new label, Merge Records, after being dropped by 4AD in 2018 for “not being commercially successful enough.” This fall she finally provided us with the details on her new effort, which follows 2017’s ambitious and critically acclaimed Three Futures. Along with the Silver Tongue album announcement, Scott released the lead single, LP opener “Good Scare.” Like the material on Three Futures, “Good Scare” melds oceanic guitar, percussion and synth, offering a lush and layered complement to Scott’s gravelly lows and tender falsetto. —Amanda Gersten

9. Khruangbin & Leon Bridges: Texas Sun
Feb. 7

Leon Bridges and Khruangbin first crossed paths as the result of a joint tour in 2018, and discovered they had a similar laid-back musical ethos. Their forthcoming collaborative EP Texas Sun was the instrumental trio’s first foray into writing with a vocalist, and results on the title track are cozy and seamless. “We try not to have too much of an intention, because it gets in the way of what the music wants to do,” says Khruangbin bassist Laura Lee. “If you just let the music do what it’s supposed to do, it will reveal itself. We tried to take that same approach with Leon. For us, it was opening up our world to have another person in it. But all of it feels like Texas to me.” —Amanda Gersten

10. The Lone Bellow: Half Moon Light
Feb. 7

For their fifth full-length album, prominent indie-folksters The Lone Bellow teamed up with The National’s Aaron Dessner at his studio in upstate New York. “I want it to bring comfort,” the band’s Brian Elmquist said of the new album in a statement. “But it’s not all hard conversations. There’s a lot of light and some dancing that needs to happen.” —Ellen Johnson

11. Tame Impala: The Slow Rush
Feb. 14

After years of waiting and speculation (we thought for sure 2019 was the year!), a new Tame Impala album is finally en route, this time with a confirmed release date and album title. Kevin Parker’s fourth studio album The Slow Rush promises just as much swirling apprehension and raging progressive psychedelia as the last three. This release has been nearly five years in the making, following 2015’s Currents, which we named one of the best albums of the 2010s. —Ellen Johnson

12. Tennis: Swimmer
Feb. 14

Indie-pop duo Tennis—made up of husband and wife team Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore—are based in Denver, Colo., but “based” is a relative term when it comes to these two musicians, who split their time between land and sea. They wrote the majority of both their 2011 debut album Cape Dory and 2017’s Yours Conditionally whilst on sailing excursions. Then, a four-month sailing trip in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, resulted in their next project, Tennis’ fifth album Swimmer, which is appropriately out on Valentine’s Day 2020. —Ellen Johnson

13. Bambara: Stray
Feb. 14

Narrative-based songs may be completely out of step with what’s happening in music right now, but that leaves plenty of room for New York outfit Bambara to shine. Their gothic rock is gripping and shadowy, and Reid Bateh unfurls lines about characters who are much the same. Their forthcoming album, Stray, follows 2018’s Shadow on Everything. —Lizzie Manno

14. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene
Feb. 21

Grimes dropped singles steadily throughout the last couple of years, and turns out most of those—including “We Appreciate Power,” “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth” and “Violence”—will all appear on the long-awaited new record by the singer: Miss Anthropocene. —Ellen Johnson

15. Caribou: Suddenly
Feb. 28

It’s been six years since Caribou’s Our Love (one of Paste’s 100 best albums of the 2010s) dropped, forever changing the way we think about dance music. Dan Snaith’s productions offered a maturation of classic electronic styles that both informed the listener about an influential past while also allowing us to become sophisticated appreciators of prevailing movements in sound. Simply put, Caribou’s music broadens our horizon as music fans. And now, the two singles from Suddenly that we’ve heard so far, “You And I” and “Home” see the Canadian Snaith taking us on a musical trip from the London underground to the Detroit dance floor, with the auteur’s high-pitched voice as our benevolent guide. This is music about finding yourself, it’s music about love, it’s music about people arriving at mutual understandings of our places in this world, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more gorgeous. —Adrian Spinelli

16. Moses Sumney: græ
Part 1: February, Part 2: May 15

The evocative musician is returning with his second full-length project after his acclaimed 2017 debut, Aromanticism. His new LP will arrive in two parts, the first in February and the second in May. —Ellen Johnson

17. Best Coast: Always Tomorrow

From the beginning of “For The First Time,” it becomes clear that Best Coast have moved away from their roots in lo-fi surf-punk and leaned into the synth. The song opens with a mingling of warm bass, drum machine and arpeggiated synths before opening into a flute-driven groove that conjures up some Cyndi Lauper feeling. The change in sound is unexpected, but not unwelcome as they manage to keep their energy lively while expanding their scope. —Hayden Goodridge

18. The Beths

We loved the 2018 debut album by these New Zealand indie rockers so much, we went out and got the scoop on the new one. Sit tight—LP2 is on its way! —Ellen Johnson

Watch The Beths perform for Paste at last year’s SXSW:

19. Caroline Rose

The indie-pop trickster has played the new album for her dad, so we’ve gotta be next, right? Her next effort will follow 2018’s LONER, one of our favorite records from that year. —Ellen Johnson

20. Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo has always been prolific, so if our calculations are correct, a new Car Seat Headrest record should be on its way sometime this year. Early last year, the band opened a Madison Square Garden set with a new song, which they’ve played a few times on tour, so new material is definitely in the works. —Ellen Johnson

21. The Cure

Legacy bands aren’t particularly reliable when it comes to rumored new albums. After all, we featured The Cure on our list last year, but they didn’t release any new material. However, Robert Smith told the press late last year that he was working on three new Cure albums. He said the first one would be out by Christmas (which didn’t happen), the second will contain “freer pieces” and the third is a “noise disc.” Here’s hoping we get at least one Cure LP in 2020. —Lizzie Manno

22. Fleet Foxes

There’s nothing yet confirmed, but it could happen! —Ellen Johnson

Watch a 2008 Fleet Foxes concert from the Paste vault:

23. Fiona Apple

She’s hoping for “early 2020.” She thinks. We’re not just hoping—we’re praying. The world is ready for—and, quite frankly, in need of—new Fiona Apple. —Ellen Johnson

24. Fontaines D.C.

It was nearly impossible to avoid the 2019 hype surrounding Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. After releasing their critically-acclaimed debut album Dogrel (one of our favorites of last year), the band is reportedly recording a Beach Boys-inspired album in L.A. and has plans to release it in 2020. —Lizzie Manno

25. Frank Ocean

With new Frank Ocean music, it’s more a matter of “when” than “if.” In a September cover story for W, he divulged that his next album—what’ll be the follow-up to 2016’s universally adored Blonde—will take inspiration from “Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic…” Thankfully, there are a few new singles floating around out there—and a Coachella headliner spot—to keep us occupied while we await Frank Ocean’s next “full motion picture fantasy.” —Ellen Johnson

26. HAIM

Following a trio of near-perfect single releases in 2019, HAIM wrote in a December post, “There’s so much more we want to share but you’re just gonna have to wait till 2020,” which accompanied a “Thank You” video they shared in honor of the third single, “Hallelujah.” If those three songs are any sign of what’s to come, LP3 is going to be stellar. —Ellen Johnson

27. Hinds

Spanish rock quartet Hinds are one of the most energetic bands around, and last month they finally returned with new music, a single titled “Riding Solo,” also their first new release since a 2018 single “British Mind.” Along with the latest single announcement was a note that said “More news from Hinds to come in 2020.” Fingers crossed it’s regarding their third full-length release. —Ellen Johnson

28. Iceage

Today’s most consistently great post-punk band is due for a new album. Whether Iceage follows a more grand, horn-centric rock sound as they did on 2018’s Beyondless or taps into the violent, shape-shifting punk of their earlier material, they will certainly bring fury and finesse. —Lizzie Manno


Last year, IDLES confirmed they had begun working on their third album, a follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed Joy as an Act of Resistance. Last month, Joe Talbot confirmed to Beats 1 that they finished recording, and it’s now being mixed. —Ellen Johnson

30. Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner’s last album as Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, was one of our favorites of the decade. Her graceful synth-rock sound has us dying for another LP, and luckily, it looks like we’ll be getting one alongside her debut memoir. —Lizzie Manno

31. Julien Baker

It’s been nearly three years since the release of her second studio album Turn Out the Lights, and since then, Baker has kept busy touring and performing with rock supergroup boygenius. We can only theorize that a new album might be on the way in 2020, but its arrival certainly wouldn’t be a surprise. —Ellen Johnson

Watch Julien Baker perform in the Paste Studio in 2016:

32. Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison

Legendary Memphis soul singer Booker T. Jones produced and arranged the debut solo album from The National frontman Matt Berninger, which is arriving sometime this year, Berninger announced on Instagram. Color us intrigued! —Ellen Johnson

33. Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers has been up to a lot since her stunning debut record in 2017, joining two of the best supergroups in recent memory: boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center, even finding the time to team up with Matt Berninger in the process. But fans have been hungry for a proper follow up to Stranger in the Alps, and it looks like the wait is finally almost over. “finishing an album. headlining mirrors festival in london on november 2nd and playing new songs for the first time,” she wrote on Instagram in mid-November, including a short snippet of a new song and featuring pictures of Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitar genius Nick Zinner and X-Files star-turned-musician David Duchovny. —Steven Edelstone

Watch Phoebe Bridgers perform in the Paste Studio in 2017:

34. Porridge Radio

Secretly Canadian’s new signing Porridge Radio couldn’t have made a bigger splash with “Lilac,” their first single for the label. Armed with an even more grandiose sound than their 2016 debut Rice, Pasta And Other Fillers, Porridge Radio’s raw tenderness and punk urgency is uniquely exciting. If their new full-length is even half as good as their recent single, we’re in for something special. —Lizzie Manno

35. Pottery

Ever wondered what Parquet Courts would sound like if fronted by David Byrne? Well look no further: Montreal’s Pottery is here to inject some much-needed party vibes back into wiry post-punk. Their 2019 debut EP No. 1 was one of our favorites last year, making our best EPs and best new bands lists, and their frenetic live show indicates they’re here to stay. No word yet on their debut LP, but it’d make a whole lot of sense if the Partisan signees dropped it sooner rather than later. —Steven Edelstone

Watch Pottery perform in the Paste Studio late last year:

36. Soccer Mommy

Nashville-based Sophie Allison won us over with 2018’s Clean, a heartbreaking ’90s-indebted debut that popped up on our best albums of the 2010s list almost two years later. Her recent singles “lucy” and “yellow is the color of her eyes” have showcased a completely different side of her songwriting, the former her heaviest rock song to date and the latter a gorgeous and delicate seven-minute epic. There’s still no album announcement, but her two late 2019 singles signal that it may be coming sooner than we thought. —Steven Edelstone

37. Real Estate

The indie-rock favorites have already debuted a swath of new music at live shows, and it appears the actual album will arrive sometime this year. Or, as the band would have it, this year will suck for you if you don’t like them. —Ellen Johnson

Watch Real Estate perform at SXSW in 2009 via the Paste vault:

38. Rihanna

Rihanna’s absence in today’s music landscape feels like a gaping hole. She talked to Vogue for a November cover feature and said her forthcoming album would be “reggae-inspired.” A month later, Def Jam tweeted what appeared to be a Rihanna promo shot, and fans speculated that a surprise-released album was imminent. We’re praying that Riri’s return comes sooner rather than later. —Lizzie Manno

39. Run The Jewels

This hashtag reads “RTJ42020,” so we know it’s coming. It’s only a matter of time. —Ellen Johnson

40. The Strokes

It’s been awhile since Julian, Albert, Nick, Nikolai and Fab have released an album, and even longer since they’ve released a good one (arguably since 2003, though Angles remains tragically underrated). But the fact that New York’s best rock band of the millennium is finally gearing up to drop a full LP—their first since 2013’s Comedown Machine and first release since 2016’s Future Present Past—is cause to celebrate. And its existence is more than just a rumor now: “Yeah, we’ve got a new album coming out soon! 2020, here we come,” Julian Casablancas exclaimed at a New Years Eve gig at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. So break out your Converses and stop washing your hair—The Strokes are back! —Steven Edelstone

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