Top Albums of 2020

We love an end of year list, and just lists in general. You won't be surprised that music is one of our biggest passions here at Printed Originals. You may be surprised to learn that we are quite opinionated about it!

2020 has offered artists a surprising and unexpected downtime which has inevitably resulted in more music than we could ever have expected. It's also changed many of our relationship with music (no gigs, no morning commute playlists). So, here it is, our completely biased and subjective best albums of 2020. Why are there 17 you ask? Because we can't bear to cut it down anymore! We'd love to know your opinions and your favourites from the year too, let us know!

17. Lovesick by RICEWINE

Favourite track – Ways

With touching and at time heart wrenching lyrics, it is much deeper than its soft Bedroom Pop sound suggests. From gorgeous love song duets (Selfluv with GUS) to Nujabes-inspired hip-hop (Growing) some things work better than others, and its only drawback is its 18 song length. A really beautiful, really chilled collection of songs that has been a much needed go-to through this crazy year.

16. Fetch The Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

Favourite track – I Want You To Love Me

Ever late to the party, this was the album that finally introduced us to Fiona Apple. You can’t define it and you don’t know how to describe it. It is vast and strange and wild both sonically and tonally. In short, it’s wonderful and there isn’t anything else like it.

15. What Could Possibly Go Wrong by Dominic Fike

Favourite track –  Politics and Violence

Richly experimental and diverse, the anticipated full length debut just about meets the lofty expectations set upon it. As it navigates between Pop to Punk to Rap and others, it remains sharply written, nicely concise and crazy catchy. It’s so full of ideas that not everything is fully fleshed out, but there’s more than plenty that is. 

14. Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers

Favourite track – Chinese Satellite

The album feels like walking through a desert at night time. It makes you feel small, peaceful and alone in a vast space. It can be dark and moody, it can be big and energetic, and it can be harrowingly beautiful.   

13. grae by Moses Sumney

Favourite track – Polly

Presented like a show or exhibition, the album is a ride of ups and downs. In an album filled with interesting production, the greatest instrument throughout is Sumney’s incredibly gorgeous voice.

12. 6pc Hot EP by 6LACK

Favourite track – Long Nights

It’s not an album, but it’s so consistent that we couldn’t exclude it. Over the past year or two 6LACK has been busy popping up on tracks with every hot artist, and when he took the time to create for himself the result is 6 tracks that perfectly showcase his repertoire.

11. Limbo by Amine

Favourite track – Pressure In My Palms Featuring slowthai and Vince Staples

Packed with bangers, it can be both action packed fun and introspective. It could probably do with being a few songs lighter but Amine continues to surprise and impress as a multidimensional artist with a talent for a hook and an ear for a beat.

10. Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist

Favourite track – Something To Rap About featuring Tyler, The Creator

Freddie Gibbs is on a hot streak that won’t end. Probably the best out-and-out rapper in the world, the beats from The Alchemist allow his insanely interchangeable flows to take centre-stage. From the get-go (1985), the album acts as an excuse for Gibbs to masterfully and unrelentingly flex, proving how perfectly he is in control of his craft.   

9. The Slow Rush by Tame Impala

Favourite track – On Track

It’s telling that an album that ultimately left us disappointed still ends up so high on the list, such were the expectations. Whilst it doesn’t live up to the lofty heights of his previous work, the highs are so very high. Album on album you are left in awe as to how a single person could create such splendour. 

8. c2c by KwolleM

Favourite track – Fenchurch St featuring Joe James

Making the jump from old school remixes of grime classics, this is a brilliant first time effort from the producer. Telling stories and celebrating London, it sounds different from other UK hip-hop. Keeping the laid back R&B aspects of his beats and mixing it is in with dark and atmospheric grime staples make for really interesting and unique sounds.

7. After Hours by The Weeknd

Favourite track – Too Late

Right from the first teaser through to his dedication to appearing in bandaged & beaten character, this is a concept album on the grandest of scales. It is hugely ambitious and succeeds on almost every front – and its huge numbers prove that originality and success aren’t mutually exclusive.

6. Lyrics to Go, Vol. 1 by Kota The Friend

Favourite track – Can’t Please Everybody

A result of his YouTube series, this 10 track album is bliss in less than 15 minutes. No track exceeds 2 minutes and it doesn’t need to. The self-produced beats are some of the best around, perfect for Kota’s underrated delivery and flow. This album perfectly encapsulates him as an artist, and isn’t even his main release of the year.

5. Big Conspiracy by J-Hus

Favourite track – Love, Peace and Prosperity

What elevates it from its peers s is that it isn’t entrenched in the same sounds as other Grime & Hip-Hop releases. Unafraid to pull sounds from all sorts of genres, it is a typically brilliant blend that makes you bop and makes you think as well.

4. Twice As Tall by Burna Boy

Favourite track – Wonderful

Expertly hovers the line between old and new, and fun and serious, there are times on this album that feel like they could be from years past. Delivering a flavour African Pop to a wider audience, even on your worst day you can’t help but tap your feet.

3. Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan

Favourite track – I Contain Multitudes

The greatest songwriter of all time returns in his 80th year, once again proving that you don’t need a singers voice when the songs are this good. Featuring some of his most personal and introspective works, as well as some of his grandest (the 17-minute long masterpiece Murder Most Foul), it makes you think of times past and our role in the ever-changing world.   

2. Savage Mode 2 by 21 Savage and Metro Boomin

Favourite track – Said N Done

“Are things better or worse the second time around?” Asks album narrator Morgan Freeman at the end of Runnin. They already knew the answer when they wrote the script – a definitive yes. The production is some of the best in years, forward thinking and throwback at the same time, and Savage is on absolute top form from start to finish.  

1. The New Abnormal by The Strokes

Favourite track – Selfless

One of the best surprises of the year, it sees the New Yorkers back to their near best. It combines the best things about the early Strokes albums (Albert & Nick’s back and forths) with the best things from the later works (synths and Julian’s falsetto). Every song works brilliantly, and most of them are still in our daily rotation nearly 8 months on.