We have finally arrived at one of the most interesting parts of my musical year, in which I revisit some of the albums that I overlooked in the year, but have garnered enough praise from other sources, or have remained enigmatic enough for me to give them a proper shot.
Nevertheless, I can walk out of 2020 being extremely proud of how many reviews I have actually written this year. I would estimate it to be twice as many as last year’s reviewed albums, so here’s that unwarranted moment for me to give myself a pat on the back.
Going through this process of revisiting albums for the last couple of years, has allowed me to discover some fantastic albums that might’ve otherwise slipped under my radar for good. Going through a similar thing last year, doing so allowed me to listen to some pretty phenomenal projects. in last year’s case, these namely included Michael Kiwanuka’s KIWANUKA, and Dorian Electra’s Flamboyant.
But fast forward to the closing month of this rather bleak in (in nearly every respect, save musically), and we have seven final pieces that garnered my attention at the very last minute. Unlike previous years, I will be putting all of these miniature album reviews in one article, as opposed to seven separate articles for each day of the week. However, I will still be covering these albums day-by-day, and will be adding to this one post daily, on behalf of each album.
So without any further ado, let’s conclude my reviews of 2020 with these final seven.
Monday’s Entry — KSI — Dissimulation
With his newest album releasing in May of this year, KSI was, at that point, still somebody that I almost completely knew as the YouTube extraordinaire that he still is today. And with that said, It still took me some time to take KSI, as a music artist, as seriously as I should’ve, despite Dissimulation being his second album.
But after a few weeks or so, I took the time to skim through the project properly, and picked out a handful of stand-out songs that I actually really enjoyed, and decided that Dissimulation was almost a guaranteed entry for Last Minute Reviews Week.
But since my appreciation towards YouTube creators turned song artists has evolved with the likes of the two EP’s from the TGF duo Jay Swingler and Romell Henry, under the musical aliases of jimbo and UNX respectively, my enjoyment towards Dissimulation had skyrocketed upon the most recent playthroughs.
Of course, the album is primarily a bit showoff-ish, and a few of the tracks draw quite blatant inspiration fork other artists stylistically, but where I feel that KSI really shines the most on here, is when he gets in touch with the roots of UK Rap, namely with tracks like “Houdini”. In fact, if we had an album which used that track as a stylistic foundation, it would be an absolutely fire project.
Favourite Tracks: What You Been On | Houdini | Undefeated
Beerus Ltd | RBC Records
Tuesday’s Entry — Fiona Apple — Fetch The Bolt Cutters
I have no idea what gave me the initial impression that this fifth studio album from Fiona Apple had a musical theatre kind of quality which ultimately turned me away from the idea of giving a full review for it. Listening to it now, I can sense a more acoustic chamber pop quality, which gave me a similar presence to Weyes Blood’s 2019 album Titanic Rising.
What made Fetch the Bolt Cutters an entry for Last Minute Reviews Week was obviously the amount of praise and hype it has amassed; I mean what else would it have been? This album seemed to be the topper of every music publishers list, so I felt like it would be an idiotic move to miss out on this one.
And upon listening to the album properly, the impact of Fiona Apple’s story hit me like a truck. The way she covered the misogyny she has experienced, and her breaking free to become the unapologetically independent person that she is commanded my attention fully.
I also loved the unique arsenal of instrumentation, especially in regards to percussion, that really helped to give Fetch the Bolt Cutters a phenomenally gritty and raw finish. I now completely understand why Fetch the Bolt Cutters is the people’s choice of 2020.
Favourite Tracks: I Want You To Love Me | Heavy Balloon | Drumset
Epic Records | Sony Music
Wednesday’s Entry — Dua Lipa — Future Nostalgia
It’s a bit blurry to me as to why exactly Dua Lipa’s sophomore album slipped under the radar for me. But looking back on it, it was either down to this album being released during a very busy time, or my abysmal misconception that this album wasn’t anything more than another simplistic pop album made with maximum accessibility in mind.
The biggest thing that I learned from this album, is that you can never trust a poor quality radio. I was already familiar with quite a large handful of these tracks, courtesy of radio plays and adverts. But listening to them through a more high-quality sound system, I noticed that there was so much more melodically going on underneath the commercial framework.
The vast majority of sound on Future Nostalgia really fit in well with the cosmic atmosphere that is suggested by the album cover, while bringing a unique feeling energy to the table.
I also came to appreciate Dua Lipa’s sense of self-empowerment as well on this record. Namely with tracks like “Boys Will Be Boys”, Dua definitely stands as somebody who is far more than just an industry plant.
I was spellbound by how colourful and enjoyable the sound on this album actually was, and I am absolutely relieved that I didn’t miss out on it.
Favourite Tracks: Future Nostalgia | Cool | Levitating
Dua Lipa | Warner Records
Thursday’s Entry — Charli XCX — how i’m feeling now
For whatever reason, the way I felt about Charli XCX’s newest album, how i’m feeling now, seemed to be in a similar vein to Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia. As a result, I almost considered replacing one with the other for this edition of Last Minute Reviews Week.
But upon listening to this album and the prior entry properly, it was easy to sense that the two projects sounded vastly different. While Future Nostalgia, as I mentioned before, was a luminous bag of fun pop bangers, how i’m feeling now is much more loud, experimental, and electronic-focused. In fact, this album feels far more reminiscent of Dorian Electra, than Dua Lipa.
I must also account for the fact that I missed out on Charli XCX’s 2019 album Charli, which received very high praise. With this new album arguably developing upon the experimental club-banger sound set up by that previous album, it would’ve been very unwise to miss out once again.
While the album is indeed very experimental, it is consistently so. As a result, how i’m feeling now definitely comes across as a well thought out project, while having the creative freedom to be completely out there.
This album masterfully highlights life under lockdown, and it truly feels like a poster project of 2020.
Favourite Tracks: pink diamond | c2.0 | anthems
Warner Records | Asylum Records
Friday’s Entry — Dan Deacon — Mystic Familiar
I actually remember the moment I discovered the fifth studio album, and what would be my introduction to Dan Deacon. It was solely down to the fact that it was a very busy time in terms of my reviews, as to why I ended up not reviewing Mystic Familiar upon its release. Otherwise, it was right up my ally.
The surreal and colourful feel of Mystic Familiar instantly made it an album that I at least wanted to review towards the end of the year, so here that album is.
Dan Deacon’s knack for layered composition, and bringing out a spiritual energy through his sound, really pays off on Mystic Familiar, with the vast majority of its tracks evoking an incredibly strong sense of wonder.
Along with this, I was impressed with how well thought out and pre-meditated the narrative and overall flow of the album came across. Particularly with the four Arp tracks that are placed within the mid-section of Mystic Familiar.
This album absolutely delivers on the idea of being a true musical experience, and it was an extremely enjoyable one of that.
Favourite Tracks: Become a Mountain | Sat By A Tree | Bumble Bee Crown King
Domino Recording Co Ltd
Saturday’s Entry — Rico Nasty — Nightmare Vacation
The debut album from Rico Nasty (discounting the collaborative project with Kenny Beats) is this week’s only case of an album which was released this month. In truth, I listened to a few of the tracks that Rico had included on this album, shortly before coming to the decision of putting Nightmare Vacation as this years sixth entry.
Upon listening to the album in full, Nightmare Vacation, in a stylistic sense, was everything that I was hoping it would be. The vast majority of the project carries this sort of ratchet undertone, that in turn makes Nightmare Vacation a very enjoyable piece.
With the help of Take a Daytrip on some of the beats, this album also carries a very raw, bass-boosted stylistic palette, and somehow manages to create a diverse enough range of moods, to have a project which is as colourful as the cover art points to.
It is safe to say that through this debut, Rico Nasty cements herself as somebody who is swiftly moving up the ranks of the modern rap game, and she is definitely one to watch out for.
Favourite Tracks: Don’t Like Me | IPHONE | Own It
Sunday’s Entry — Chloe x Halle — Ungodly Hour
Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music
I hadn’t fully been familiar with this album from Chloe x Halle, until looking at other top album lists for last-minute inspiration on what I could add to this year’s Last Minute Reviews Week, but I sure am glad that I managed to give Ungodly Hour an overdue listen.
The blissful nature of this albums musical palette, along with Chloe x Halle’s remarkably angelic vocals, elevate the atmospheric qualities of this album to an elite level.
Along with this, Ungodly Hour seems to do well in regards to fusing both current and nostalgic vibes (I noticed the latter most strongly with the track “Busy Boy”).
Chloe x Halle really feel like a dynamic duo on this album, and their sense of chemistry and empowerment is undeniable on this record. Pair said chemistry with a selection of some amazingly atmospheric production, and you have an album that is deserving of every shred of praise it receives.
Favourite Tracks: Forgive Me | Do It | Lonely
Parkwood Entertainment LLC | Columbia Records | Sony Music
So Which Of Them Is My Personal Favourite?
At the end of the day, it has to be said that Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters is undeniably impactful. Despite me only giving this project a full listen recently, it hasn’t taken long at all for this album to settle comfortably into a place in the back of my mind. The way that Fiona Apple tells the listener her story through her songs, is unlike any other artist in 2020. I really have to hand it to Fiona Apple, for creating an album that felt like a year-definer in a matter of weeks.
And that concludes my reviews for 2020 completely. All that’s left to share with you guys, is arguably the moment that most of you have been waiting for most eagerly; which albums, singles, and EPs do I deem the best of 2020?
All will be revealed in the coming week, so keep your eyes peeled, and thank you for following me throughout this unusual year.