Given theatre closures and festival cancellations, I feel unqualified to present a list of favorite movies of the year so far, although I caught one contender pre-quarantine (First Cow) and have streamed a few others since then (Driveways, Shirley, Straight Up).
Fortunately, albums are a different story. For every release pushed back (Rufus Wainwright, The (Dixie) Chicks), surprise releases make up nearly a third of my top-ten-so-far. Even more surprising is that as much as I like and respect Fiona Apple’s long-gestating fifth album (which may end up her best since When The Pawn…), I find myself returning to Owen Pallett’s gorgeous, acoustic/orchestral song-cycle far more often.
The Perfume Genius album is easily Mike Hadreas’ best effort yet, the Destroyer Dan Bejar’s most complete since Kaputt, and the Nicole Atkins is a worthy follow-up to Goodnight Rhonda Lee that wisely moves beyond its predecessor’s sound. I had not heard of Russian avant-pop artist Kate NV until a few weeks ago, and her just-released third album scratches that Kate Bush/Jane Siberry/early Suzanne Vega itch nicely.
Still, the improbable return of A Girl Called Eddy, sixteen years after her debut with a second album very much its equal, most heavily informs this crazy year-to-date; its closest match is Jessie Ware’s fourth LP, which just came out two days ago but secured its place here after one encouraging play.
Top ten albums of 2020 so far, in alphabetical order by artist:
A Girl Called Eddy, Been Around
Ben Watt, Storm Damage
Destroyer, Have We Met
Fiona Apple, Fetch The Bolt Cutters
Jessie Ware, What’s Your Pleasure?
Kate NV, Room For The Moon
Laura Marling, Song For Our Daughter
Nicole Atkins, Italian Ice
Owen Pallett, Island
Perfume Genius, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately