15 of the Most Anticipated Albums of 2020

Meta: 2020’s most anticipated albums feature new music from The 1975, Haim, Fiona Apple, Frank Ocean and The Killers. A whole year of killer jams awaits. 

2020 is already shaping up to be a massive year for music. We just haven’t heard much of it yet. It’s all just over a horizon too hazy to reveal exactly where or when. Our anticipation is based solely on rumors and a slow trickle of teaser tracks pointing the way towards a glut of exciting new records. The only trouble is that those crafty musicians like to play coy. They like to build buzz by repping their upcoming albums long before we get to hear any of it. 

Here are some of the fifteen albums to which we’re most looking forward and can, with some certainty, assume we’ll see before the bell tolls 2021. If we didn’t include your most anticipated record, you should give us an earful — but know that we left off big names like Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna and Adele because none of them have tossed out any concrete information that would lead us to believe their new records are imminent. 

The 1975, Notes on a Conditional Form (April 24): 

Inarguably one of the biggest bands in the world right now, The 1975, fronted by Matt Healy, confirmed that their 2020 release has been pushed back until April. Notes On A Conditional Form follows 2018’s massive A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, which topped the UK charts and reached #4 in the U.S. Though the press jumped on Healy’s comments about the two records being part of a “Music For Cars” umbrella – the bandleader stresses there’s no intrinsic connection between the two. “It’s a completely different record,” he said. The album features spoken word from Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg on “The 1975” and a much more aggressive, punk-stained edge on “People.” What we’ve heard so far displays a different look and sound for a band that’s already done its best to avoid genre labels. 

Fiona Apple, TBA (TBD):

We’ve put our best cryptologists on the case. Here’s what we know about Fiona Apple’s upcoming release. It’ll see the light of day in early 2020. That’s it. That’s all we’ve got. And they had to work overtime for that. Okay, so they read this piece in The Vulture, but it’s quite long and talks about the movie Hustlers a lot. Apple fell on the scene in 1996 when she was only 17 years old. Since then she’s released only three more records, won a few Grammies and sold more than 10 million copies. We can’t wait to hear new music — whatever it is and whenever it happens.

Archers of Loaf, TBA (TBD): 

Forced to change his vocal style to preserve his health, frontman Eric Bachmann moved on to lead the far more mellow Crooked Fingers and focus on a solo career (also mellow). With Bachmann’s new singing mechanics on board (from the gut, not the throat), Archers of Loaf reunited in 2011 and have continued to play together intermittently without any concrete promise of a new record. In a 2018 interview with Exclaim!, Bachmann confirmed that the indie-rockers planned to release their first new music since 1998’s White Trash Heroes. In November, the band announced a 2020 tour starting in February and teased new music in a minute-long montage called “The Return of the Loaf.” A newly-edited video montage means business. 

The Cure, TBA x 3 (TBD):

Robert Smith says the seminal post-punk band (newly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) has not one, but three albums currently in various stages of development. In 2019, he’d expressed hope the world would hear new music sometime around Christmas. That didn’t happen, so “any day now” seems to be the going currency. Tentatively titled “Live From The Moon,” the album would be the band’s first since 2008’s 4:13 Dream. The second, which shouldn’t be far behind, includes “much freer pieces.” And the third? Smith calls it a “noise disc.” What that means exactly is anyone’s guess, but new music from the cure is an event. Three new records? That’s cause for celebration.

Grimes, Miss_Anthropocene (February 21):

Enigmatic Canadian singer, producer, and goddess of the dark, Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) says that her highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Art Angels is about “a modern demonology or a modern pantheon where every song is about a different way to suffer.” This comes from a conversation with Lana Del Rey and Brit Marling in Interview Magazine. Grimes’ meticulous observation of her craft produces some of the most idiosyncratic music of the era and a new Grimes record should be on everyone’s radar. Based on what we’ve heard so far, I don’t see this album causing too much suffering at the hands of her demonic new cuts.

Haim, TBA (TBD):

The sister trio released three singles from their upcoming and still untitled 2020 release. “Summer Girl,” “Hallelujah,” and “Now I’m In It” provided a snapshot of their progress as a band since the excellent Something To Tell You. Saxophones! Subtle, head-nodding grooves! They’ve expanded their sound. They’re pushing their well-worn influences beyond idol worship and becoming a new thing while maintaining the same hook-forward approach. This could be their coup de grace on critics who cite their music as fun, but overly familiar easy listening.

Kesha, High Road (January 31):

Kesha said this is the most fun she’s ever had making a record. She exorcised some demons on 2017’s Rainbow and seems poised to release a block of infectious, beat-heavy dance music. “Kesha got her balls back,” she says on a two-minute trailer for the January 31st album featuring song samples and the pop diva dressed as a pink-skirt suit wearing televangelist.

The Killers, Imploding the Mirage (TBD):

At this point, fans of The Killers are running on fumes. The band’s 2017 album Wonderful Wonderful failed to light a fire, and they arguably haven’t released a good record in more than 10 years, but there’s always just enough of a spark to suggest that Brandon Flowers and co. could return to form with whatever comes next. They’ve announced a tour of the UK and Ireland and have pre-orders for the new LP up on the website. In 2019, they released “Land of the Free,” a political call to arms against border walls, institutional racism, and the country’s failure to move on gun control reform – but that song wasn’t teased on this Instagram post so we still haven’t heard a single lick.  

Matt Berninger, Serpentine Prison (TBD):

The frontman for The National and El Vy somehow found time to write and record a solo album. This is news in and of itself — but seeing as how it’s produced by the legendary Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & the M.G.’s it becomes kind of a generational event. Only time will tell if the combined forces of the soulful duo will open a rift in the time-space continuum. Berninger never fails to surprise us, so this seems especially on-brand.  

Alt-Text: 2020’s most anticipated albums feature new music from The 1975, Haim, Fiona Apple, Frank Ocean, The Killers and Matt Berninger. 

Title: 15 of 2020’s Most Anticipated Records

Caption: Booker T. Jones produced Matt Berninger’s forthcoming solo debut, Serpentine Prison, one of our most anticipated albums of 2020.

Description: Booker T. Jones and Matt Berninger in the studio recording Serpentine Prison.

Lana Del Rey, White Hot Forever (TBD):

Lana Del Rey, you just released one of the most acclaimed albums of the decade – what are you going to do now? You’re going to release a spoken word album and a collection of new songs? Well, alright. You sure you don’t want a vaca—oh. Okay. Just keep on doing what you do.

Frank Ocean, TBA (TBD):

We have no official word from Frank Ocean about a 2020 album, but headlining Coachella in April is a serious tell on the magnitude of scratching your ear every time you’re dealt a pair of aces. He’s also been talking up new music in interviews and citing influences such as “Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic.” So while he’s not showing his cards, he’s doing some serious ear scratching and being so specific we have no idea what’s actually going on big-picture wise. Expect a new, probably inspired album sometime before April.

Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 4 (TBD):

The beat-heavy, rough and rugged rap duo bromance of Killer Mike and El-P have announced the release of Run the Jewels 4… sometime this year. They’ll be at both Coachella and Bonnaroo spreading the gospel. They’ve even tossed out a five second hit from the record on their Twitter account. We’ve been waiting a little more than three years since RTJ3 – and the wait has been excruciating.  

Tame Impala, The Slow Rush (February 14): Australian psych-rockers Tame Impala last released Currents in 2015. Frontman Kevin Parker refuses to rush the creative process to completion, saying that he has “to feel kind of worthless again to want to make music.” We’ve heard at least four exceptional tracks from the forthcoming release. The latest, “Lost in Yesterday,” appeared on January 7. Tame Impala also announced a substantial tour and a headlining gig at Bonnaroo for 2020.

U.S. Girls, TBA (TBD):

This might feel like a sleeper pick for hype albums in 2020, but Meg Remy’s avant post-rock pop project released one of the great records of 2018 (In a Poem Unlimited). U.S. Girls has already released a soulful, saxophone laden single called “Overtime” and if it’s an indication of greater soundscape experimentation on the upcoming album, the band’s going to be an even bigger deal. Get in on the ground floor before everyone’s raving about the new U.S. Girls record. 

The xx, TBA (TBD):

In a New Year’s Eve Instagram post, the band confirmed they’re working on new music for 2020. Romy Madley Croft, Jamie Smith and Oliver Sim released their third (and arguably best) studio album in 2017 but have been largely mum about music ever since. Hell, Fiona Apple’s had more to say and if you’re less forthcoming than Fiona Apple that’s also something to talk about.

By jdp

Pittsburgh-based freelance writer, movie watcher and vinyl crate digger. I've interviewed Tom Hanks and James Bond and it was all downhill from there.

15 of the Most Anticipated Albums of 2020

by jdp time to read: 7 min