We continue our fortnight of top tens looking back at 2020 and looking forward to 2021:
Today, we try our very hardest to get excited about 2021. IT WILL BE BETTER. It will. It will. Will it? Whatever happens in the year ahead, at least we’ll have music – it got us through 2020 and it will get us through 2021. As always, it is likely to be the surprises that happen along the way that will be the best moments, but here are some albums we already know (or hope) will be lightening our nights in the coming months:
James: I have already pre-ordered Bicep’s Isles. What can I tell you about it? It has ‘Atlas’ and ‘Apricots’ on it. They’re both fantastic. Most of the other Bastards will hate it (I know Fran objects on the name alone). Erm. It’s on neon orange vinyl. Erm. It’s going to be great.
Fran: With their self-titled debut in 2018, Goat Girl wrote one of the most solidly exciting slices of indie music I heard in a long time. They made a name for themselves in a crowded genre by harking back to some successful bands of the early 00s, while also adding their uniquely angry and sarcastic strain of feminism. We’ve only got until January 29th to wait to see if On All Fours lives up to the debut or ends up being a difficult second album, but personally I’d be very surprised if it’s the latter.
Tom: I didn’t love St. Vincent’s last album, MASSEDUCTION. But the other day Fran dropped a link to this article in the group chat which revealed that Annie Clark’s next record will have the ‘colour palette of Taxi Driver’. I’m now very excited. Taxi Driver is my favourite film. St. Vincent is one of my favourite artists. It makes total sense for her to be inspired by Scorsese’s film – an amazingly evocative exploration of place and self. Clark’s best work does just this. I already can’t wait.
James: Pretty sure I heard that Lou Hayter is bringing out an album soon. I’m expecting some fun, yet relaxed, indie pop that falls just on the stylish side of wonky.
Sam: I was supposed to be seeing Billie Eilish on her massive world tour in 2020. That never happened and has been cancelled altogether rather than rescheduled, so I imagine by the time she does tour again it’ll be with her 2nd album.
We’ve had 4 post album songs from Billie so far, the subtle ‘Everything I Wanted’, Bond theme ‘No Time To Die’, the unexpected ‘My Future’, and the current hit ‘Therefore I Am’, which feels the closest to her debut so far. All 4 songs are wildly different and they might remain as stand alone singles anyway, but they have me very excited for the full length album that’s planned for 2021, probably the industry’s most anticipated release of the year.
Fran: Out on the same day as the Goat Girl, Arlo Parks’s Collapsed in Sunbeams is an early contender for everyone’s 2021 Album of the Year before we’ve even heard it. She seems, to me at least, like one of those rare artists who skates around the margins of so many genres that she could appeal to almost anyone. Soul, pop, indie, R&B, and more.
It’s gonna be great, right?
All of the singles certainly are – although I do have to admit that I wish I’d heard less of them and that that could take away from the impact of the album when it drops. But we’ll have from the end of January to sit with it and if it’s as good as I’m expecting it to be, it is likely to still be on rotation when 2022 kicks in and we’re all allowed outside again. Maybe.
James: Sons of Kemet 2018, The Comet is Coming 2019, Shabaka and the Ancestors 2020…Shabaka maths dictates that there is a new Sons of Kemet release coming in 2021.
Tom: A lot of the really big names largely avoided 2020, and Kendrick Lamar was one of these. It feels like we’re due a new one from Lamar, and that’s a very exciting prospect. Some expected him to drop something during this year’s civil rights protests but that’s not his style – see To Pimp A Butterfly for his word on that. But given that the greatest rapper of his generation has had more time than usual to ruminate on the current state of the world, I’m just going to get my hopes up for another classic in 2021.
Fran: So far there is no solid evidence that Little Simz is releasing an album in 2021, but if you follow her tweets as closely as I do you will have noticed some fairly strong clues that something is coming. She has repeatedly called 2020 EP Drop 6 a taster for what’s to come, and as that was my favourite hip-hop release of the year it’s fair to say I’m a little excited. Last year’s Grey Area was one of the rare LPs that all the Picky Bs editors loved (you can hear us discuss it way back on Episode 20 of the podcast), but will whatever come next meet the same high watermark or is it likely to ‘live in the shadow’ of its predecessor?
James: I don’t know if there is a Greentea Peng debut album coming next year, but all the signs are pointing in this direction. SHE’S THE NEW AMY WINEHOUSE THERE I SAID IT.