It is that time of year again, those last few weeks remaining on the calendar where everyone and their mother dumps their inevitable “Top 100 Albums / Songs of 2020” en masse. If you remember, The Snobs have tried to differentiate our approach by selecting a top five albums, based on simple overlap. Each Snob then nominates one personal choice album to create an effective top 10, in no particular order. Below, you can find the results, alongside each Snob that backed it.
More important than any sort of album ranking, 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone, especially artists. Just as we did last year, we encourage you to listen to every single one of these albums from beginning to end. We have, and we’ve bought the vinyl, which you should, too, if you like what you hear and want to support these artists.
The Beyoncés, Billie Eilishs and other streaming superstars of the world will be just fine. It’s those smaller artists that need our help; think the Black Country, New Roads, Destroyers and Dehds of the world. Cut out the middleman *ahem, Amazon* and go to an artist’s website, Bandcamp, what have you, and support them directly.
Happy holidays, with love, as ever.
Your dear Snobs.
The Snobs’ Albums of 2020
Jessie Ware, What’s Your Pleasure?
With back-to-back appearances on AS14 and AS15 this year, it’s no surprise that Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure? was a unanimous vote for The Snobs. Amongst the album’s many disco inspired tracks, it’s the album’s title track, What’s Your Pleasure? that grabbed our attention and feels like it’d be right at home at the trendiest Manhattan clubs back in the 1970s. Even the album’s cover looks like it’s directly out of Warhol’s collection of celebrity polaroids.
Lianne La Havas, Lianne La Havas
While a bit toned down as compared to her prior releases, Lianne La Havas’ self-titled album is a beautifully soulful affair from the British singer-songwriter. With the singer finally recording a studio version of her longtime favorite song to cover on-tour, this may be the closest we ever get to seeing El Mascarado “like” a Radiohead song.
SAULT, Untitled (Black Is)
With 4 full length records under their belt since 2019, the enigmatic SAULT have been very busy to say the least. While the equally enigmatic Easy C re-emerged to review the group’s Untitled (Rise), it was their first release of 2020, Untitled (Black Is) and its closing track Pray up Stay Up that captured the heart of The Snobs.
U.S. Girls, Heavy Light
Longtime Snob favorite (dating all the way back to 4UDIO SNOBBERY), U.S. Girls released their seventh album in the form of the deeply introspective Heavy Light. Who would’ve guessed back in March that we’d all be spending the next nine months stuck at home with all the time in the world for some self-introspection of our own.
Fionna Apple, Fetch The Bolt Cutters
Our own Cuzomano summed it up pretty damn well, “[Fetch The Bolt Cutters] is an excellent album that continues to feed the soul over consecutive listens, thanks not only due to the care taken in its creation, but also because it has something interesting to say, musically and lyrically.”
BC Camplight, Shortly After Takeoff
There’s a lot I’d like to say about BC Camplight, but this is not the occasion. Safe to say, having gone into his story and oeuvre a little deeper, I realised I’ve liked Brian Christinzio’s namesake for longer than I have known who he is; this is his fifth album.
Christinzio’s mirth-filled, observational lyricism really shines on this record and is heavily evocative of John Grant’s solo debut. In contrast to Grant, however, Christinzio is more musically adventurous and even unafraid to get a little boogie on. This is the definition of an album: it needs to be listened to as a whole to be discovered and, as you do, it is a deeply rewarding listen.
Dehd, Flower of Devotion
This will come as no surprise to some of you, given my prior gushing over this superbly executed follow-up album from Dehd.
Opting for the road less travelled by many of their contemporaries today, the Chicago trio have opted for minimal, yet perfectly crafted production to enable their storytelling talents to take the limelight. Kempf and Balla’s excellent mud-slinging vocals highlight the gradual then sudden demise of a relationship between the two former lovers, encapsulating the swirling emotions that ensue. This makes it the most striking album I have listened to this year.
Gorillaz, Song Machine
Announced back in January 2020, in pre-corona times, one can only speculate what Song Machine was originally intended to be, other than a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the world’s most famous virtual band.
And it delivered – in season one of Song Machine, a collection of singles (or episodes, if you will) with multiple guests appearances and funky tunes, Gorillaz present us with their most “outward” facing album ever, at a time when most of us already had their fair share of personal introspection.
Above all, in a year of social distancing, where all of us learned to value and cherish human connections, hearing Mr. Albarn team up with the likes of Robert Smith, Sir Elton John or Peter Hook feels weirdly personal and close – all the while showcasing Mr. Albarn’s excellent taste in music, we must add.
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist, Alfredo
Choosing a personal nomination felt like a taller order this year than years past (everything feels like it was a taller order this year really) but I have to give it to Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist for their first exclusive collaboration: Alfredo.
While the pair have worked together in the past, this marks their first feature length duet and quite an impressive one at that. The album is a slightly darker and more somber flavour than I usually like my hip hop, but The Alchemists’ impeccable beats and Freddie’s silky smooth flow and lyricism produce a welcome chapter in the boom bap hip hop story. A story I have been exploring deeply for quite some time and look to bring you my thoughts on very soon.
Idles, Ultra Mono
As Cuzomano pointed out in his latest piece, one of the most exciting things happening in Music right now is U.K. Post-Punk. While Bristol’s own Idles put out back-to-back critically acclaimed albums in 2017 and 2018, I only just discovered the band earlier this year via their raucous performance at NPR’s Tiny Desk.
I quickly took to singer Joe Talbot’s energetic raspy roar and the band’s straight to the point and in your face attitude. 2020’s Ultra Mono is no exception to their catalogue. The album is a thunderous affair that cranks it up to 11 from the get go with opener War and doesn’t come up for air until the penultimate track, A Hymn. The album is not just all style, it’s chock-full of in your face social commentaries ranging from toxic masculinity to racism and class issues and is good representation of all the shit that erupted in 2020 the perfect soundtrack for everything that has occurred in 2020.