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Feature: The 40 Best Albums of 2020

So: that was 2020. Not one we’ll look back on especially fondly, to say the least, and yes, it’s arguably so obvious that it’s not worth mentioning, but in relation to end-of-year lists, it’s important to acknowledge the effect the pandemic has had on the way we’ve listened to music.

Unlike every other year in living memory, the overwhelming majority of music has been experienced at home, occasionally with friends, but more often than not alone. And while music produced as a direct result of covid didn’t start to appear until halfway though the year, what we chose the listen to has undoubtedly been shaped by our relative isolation.

There are albums on this list alone that probably would have been higher had live music been on the agenda, and others still that haven’t appeared at all. Not that quiet introspection was necessarily all we wanted by any means, but any list published should be done so with the caveat that some artists and their albums have suffered more than others without the visceral thrills of experiencing them live, loud and – most importantly – alongside other people.

Regardless, the year has seen the release of some truly sublime bodies of work. Here are my very favourites of an outrageously good bunch.

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Music

Anjimile – In Your Eyes

Records like this are the exact reason I wanted to start this blog: an artist I had never previously heard of, making absolutely incredible music that – so far at least – isn’t quite the attention it deserves. Anjimile Chithambo wrote much of the album from which In Your Eyes is taken while in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, while also “living more fully as a nonbinary trans person”. The press release goes on to make Sufjan Stevens comparisons, which is usually pretty dangerous ground on which to tread, but in this case is absolutely on-point, and there are also echoes of Tracy Chapman in much of Giver Taker, both vocally and in the quiet rage that underpins some of the songs.

There are so many moment of brilliance in the album, but In Your Eyes gets my particular stamp of approval for being one of the best songs I’ve heard all year.

https://anjimile.bandcamp.com