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6 Music's 20 albums to look forward to in 2020

What a year for music 2020 is shaping up to be. New albums from big names like Kendrick Lamar, Tame Impala and Pet Shop Boys, eagerly-anticipated second records from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and The Big Moon, plus long-awaited releases from legendary acts like My Bloody Valentine and GZA. And that's not even mentioning IDLES, Laura Marling and more.

Here are just 20 of the very many albums we're looking forward to hearing over the next 12 months...

Agnes Obel - 'Myopia'

Release date: 21 February

Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel specialises in otherworldly folk, the kind best suited to solo journeys and hours spent alone, creating a fort and shutting the curtains. It’s apt, then, that her next album should be titled 'Myopia', meaning nearsightedness. “The albums I’ve worked on have all required that I build a bubble of some kind, in which everything becomes about the album,” she says.

“I need to create my own myopia to make music,” Obel adds of an album that sees the avant-folk performer experimenting with obscure instrumentation (cello pizzicato, celesta, luthéal piano) and different production techniques.

“For me 'Myopia' is an album about trust and doubt. Can you trust yourself or not? Can you trust your own judgments? Can you trust that you will do the right thing? Can you trust your instincts and what you are feeling? Or are your feelings skewed?”

The Avalanches - TBA

Release date: TBA

The Avalanches’ second album, 2016’s ‘Wildflower’, was their first in 16 years, and a record that had been in the making for over a decade. The highly laboured LP, which featured from everyone Danny Brown and Biz Markie to Toro Y Moi and Mercury Rev, seems to have freed the Australian group from the burden and long shadow of their debut, 2000 cult classic ‘Since I Left You’.

“I think getting 'Wildflower' out of the way... feels like a weight’s been lifted,” multi-instrumentalist Robbie Chater told FBi Radio, adding: “The [new] music is really light, it’s some of the best stuff we’ve done.” It looks like album No.3 will continue to serve up some interesting collaborations, with the likes of the Australian Boys Choir, experimental rapper JPEGMAFIA, soul singer Leon Bridges, and Dhani Harrison (son of George) all rumoured to be involved in its making.

Photo: Charles Dennington / EMI

The Big Moon - 'Walking Like We Do'

Release date: 10 January

London four-piece The Big Moon’s second album is spearheaded by ‘Your Light’, a propelling, perfectly-constructed single that tries to put the present day in perspective. “I was thinking about how hard it is to tell if things are worse now or if they have always been this way and I just grew up and started paying attention,” singer / guitarist Juliette Jackson says of the track in a press release. “To me, it feels like we are at this tipping point that is unprecedented, but then it occurred to me that every generation before us probably had a moment when they thought they were going to be the last generation on earth.”

Jackson and co. are clearly thinking more deeply about their place in the world, and how they navigate around confusing, ever-changing surroundings. As a result, the songs on new LP 'Walking Like We Do' – produced by Ben H. Allen III – have a greater sense of urgency, and a desire to answer all the big questions before it’s too late.

Bombay Bicycle Club - 'Everything Else Has Gone Wrong'

Release date: 17 January

Six years on from 2014’s ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’, with a brief hiatus (and a solo Jack Steadman album under the moniker Mr. Jukes) in between, Bombay Bicycle Club kick off 2020 with a collection of songs “for anyone who’s ever turned to music in a time of need.”

In a statement, Steadman adds of ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’: “For me personally it's about the frustration of not being able to express myself to others, of leaving conversations feeling dissatisfied and misunderstood. Music’s the way I’m able to truly express myself.” Lead single ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ is a lushly-produced hint of what’s to come, delivered with the same delicate, reassuring touch that defines the best of Bombay’s work.

Caribou - 'Suddenly'

Release date: 28 February

Caribou’s Dan Snaith hasn’t exactly been in hiding since 2014 album ‘Our Love’. He’s released music and toured under his more free-spirited, experimental Daphni project (putting out 2017 LP ‘Joli Mai’ and 2019 EP ‘Sizzling’), all while slowly mapping out a new Caribou record behind the scenes.

Snaith has revealed two songs from 'Suddenly' so far. 'Home' samples a 1971 Gloria Barnes song, and is a joyous, uplifting track about staying close to the things that matter. “We’ve all had moments when something changes suddenly and catalyses a change in your whole life,” he told Radio 1's Annie Mac of the song. “When you need to go back to something familiar, pick up the pieces and start again.”

Ed O’Brien (EOB) - TBA

Release date: TBA

Looking across Radiohead members’ solo ventures, Thom Yorke has three albums of his own, the latest being 2019’s ‘ANIMA’; Jonny Greenwood has scored several films, including Paul Thomas Andersen’s ‘There Will Be Blood’; drummer Phil Selway has two records to his name; bassist Colin Greenwood has had the odd deviation from Radiohead duties, but has largely stayed on script. And now Ed O’Brien looks set to break his duck with a debut album in 2020.

His first work as EOB, including lead single 'Brasil', is produced by Flood, and is set to feature contributions from Laura Marling, Nathan East and The Invisible's Dave Okumu, among others. "This feels like the start of something new and truly significant for me," he told fans on social media in December. He promises to tour the record next year too.

Ed O'Brien from Radiohead talks about the first time he jammed with Thom.

Ed talks about his school friends who would go on to become Radiohead.

Grimes - 'Miss_Anthrop0cene'

Release date: 21 February

It's been four years since her critically-acclaimed album 'Art Angels', but we will soon get to hear Grimes’ long-awaited, and much-delayed, fifth record. Claire Boucher's latest release will be called 'Miss_Anthrop0cene', and she has described it on social media as "a concept album about the anthropomorphic goddess of climate change," with each song representing "a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a pop star Demonology."

We’ve already heard the dark synth-pop of 'Violence' and equally brooding 'So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth'. Previous single 'We Appreciate Power', which refined Boucher’s unholy alliance of K-pop, riot grrl punk and industrial metal, sadly won’t feature on the album, instead included as a bonus track for the album’s Japanese edition.

Grimes - Glastonbury 2016 Highlights

There isn't another artist out there like her. Electronica dreams are brought to life.

GZA - 'Dark Matter'

Release date: TBA

An album about space and science from a member of Wu-Tang Clan? What’s not to get excited about? GZA’s long-awaited ‘Dark Matter’ LP was previously said to have been completed in 2012, and originally scheduled for release in 2016, before suffering a mysterious delay. Could 2020 be the year we finally hear it?

If it does surface, ‘Dark Matter’ will be GZA’s first solo album since 2008 and has been described by the Shaolin rapper as a “journey of the universe” and “a beautiful story” about “planets, black holes, comets… dark matter, dark energy.” Renowned composer Vangelis (of Blade Runner fame) is even reported to be involved too, presumably to add a cinematic sci-fi soundscape to GZA’s intergalactic bars.

IDLES - 'Toneland'

Release date: TBA

Not content with performing one of Glastonbury 2019’s standout, most poignant sets, or being nominated for a Mercury Prize, or picking up 6 Music Recommends’ Album of the Year for 2018’s ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’, IDLES are striking while the iron’s hot with a follow-up.

Details are scarce, but LP3 is being mixed right now, with the group announcing on Instagram "Album 3. Toneland" back in September, before confirming to Zane Lowe that it's been produced by Nick Launay (Grinderman, Nick Cave), Adam "Atom" Greenspan and Kenny Beats. The latter said: "IDLES are the best band in the whole world. This is all I wanna work on. I love what they’re doing."

They’re also committed to continuing their seemingly endless world tour with some 2020 dates, including the South America legs of Lollapalooza festival. Do IDLES sleep? Almost definitely not. Does the world need a new IDLES album in 2020? 100%.

IDLES

Highlights of IDLES' set at 6 Music Festival 2019

Kendrick Lamar - TBA

Release date: TBA

If you weren’t paying super close attention, it might have seemed like 2019 was a quiet year for King Kenny. The Compton rapper still managed to hop on tracks by numerous other artists, though: namely Beyoncé, 2 Chainz, J Cole, SiR and more. But we didn’t get that all important follow-up to 2017’s sublime lyrical masterpiece ‘DAMN.’, which is what most fans would have been hoping for.

In late 2018, a Los Angeles Times profile suggested that Kendrick “hasn’t been working on a new album, but says that he’s constantly working,” going on to add that “someone in his camp mentions they’re going to the studio immediately after this.” Since then, live dates for Summer 2020 have started to trickle in.

With Lamar, you know to expect the unexpected (he has dropped a surprise album in the past in the form of 2016’s ‘Untitled Unmastered’), and you can also be sure that whatever comes next from the Top Dawg star will raise the bar even higher.

Laura Marling - TBA

Release date: TBA

2020 marks 12 years since a teenage Laura Marling first made waves with debut album ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’. Since then, she’s become a restlessly inventive songwriter, incapable of sounding the same across two records. She’s released six records – plus one via LUMP, her project with Tuung’s Mike Lindsay – and she’s yet to turn 30.

In November 2019, she told fans on Instagram she was “nearly done” with a new LP, following 2017’s ‘Semper Femina’. We know nothing about her next step, except that it’s bound to surprise and startle.

Laura Marling

Highlights of Laura Marling's set at 6 Music Festival 2016

Matt Berninger - 'Serpentine Prison'

Release date: TBA

The National frontman Matt Berninger has promised his first solo LP for 2020. ‘Serpentine Prison’ was produced and arranged by Booker T. Jones, with plenty of guest appearances lined up too. “More about it soon,” Berninger told fans on social media in October 2019, “but basically I’m the luckiest man in the universe with lots of brilliant friends who can play instermints [sic].”

It’s not yet known if Berninger’s collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers, ‘Walking on a String’, will appear on the record, but it’s the first full non-National venture from the singer, who previously collaborated with Melomena’s Brent Knopf on 2015’s EL VY album.

Moses Sumney - 'græ'

Release date: 'Part 1' February, 'Part 2' 15 May

‘græ’, the 20-song second album from LA multi-instrumentalist Moses Sumney, is split into two parts. The first is out digitally in February, and the second comes out physically in May. It follows vastly ambitious 2017 debut ‘Aromanticism’, which explored the life of someone who could not experience or feel any kind of love.

Its follow-up is similarly conceptual, if first track ‘Virile’ is anything to go by. Defined by sweeping, cinematic strings and Sumney’s signature falsetto, he says in a statement that the track inhabits “a post-human world, [where] the last remaining man is caught between beauty and brutality’s battle to dominate the earth and his body.” Even at this early stage of his career, Sumney appears to be an artist fixated on exploring ideas that have yet to be explored by others.

Moses Sumney on the influence of Mark Rothko

The musician on how he identifies with, and is shaped by, the artist.

My Bloody Valentine – TBA

Release date: TBA

My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields previously promised that there’d be two new albums from his band in 2019. Neither materialising wasn’t too much of a shock, mind you - the Irish band don't exactly have a spotless reputation for sticking to schedules (their last record, 2013's m b v, took 22 years to arrive).

Whilst there's been no sign of an album (let alone two), the band have played new songs live, and Shields' two recent haunting collaborations with Brian Eno, 'The Weight of History' and 'Only Once Away My Son', may indicate the direction their new material is heading in.

Will 2020 be the year where we get not one but two new MBV albums? Hopefully. Or at least we hope it won’t be two decades until we get another LP from the legendary shoegazers...

The Orielles - 'Disco Volador'

Release date: 28 February

The Orielles’ debut album, 'Silver Dollar Moment', was one of our favourite releases from 2018, with Lauren Laverne saying at the time: "I love that they're doing things that other people aren't. They try things that sound really fresh and different… [and] have a special, unique perspective on the world."

Lauren said she "couldn’t wait to hear what they do next”, and now we know that to be second album 'Disco Volador', which is arriving at the end of February. While their first record was inspired by 90s alt-rock, this new effort takes their sound to more unexpected places, with the Halifax trio citing disco, funk and acid house as touchstones. Bassist/singer Esme says: “'Disco Volador' could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party.”

Pet Shop Boys - 'Hotspot'

Release date: 24 January

For 14th studio album ‘Hotspot’, Pet Shop Boys relocated to Kreuzberg, Berlin’s Hansa Studios, which helped birth records including David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, U2’s ‘Achtung Baby’ and Pixies’ ‘Bossanova’.

“We’ve written much of our music over the last ten years in Berlin and it was an exciting experience to work on this album in Hansa and add a new dimension to our sound,” the band say on their website about ‘Hotspot’, which was produced by Stuart Price (Madonna, Kylie, The Killers). 2019's ‘Dreamland’ single features Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, while Suede’s Bernard Butler plays guitar on ‘Burning the Heather’.

Poliça - 'When We Stay Alive'

Release date: 31 January

After suffering a serious fall from the roof of her home in early 2018, the injuries from which would leave her in a brace for months, Channy Leaneagh’s doctor advised for her to not only concentrate on a return to physical health, but the act of mental healing too. The fifth album from Leaneagh’s Poliça project was thus born from this intensely meditative and contemplative period.

Having come to realise that she had been “living unconsciously in past trauma,” in a press release, Leaneagh says the album allowed for “the redemptive power of rewriting your story in order to heal, and reclaiming your identity as a result,” adding: “It’s about taking the power back from the past, holding the power in the present, and creating a new story for myself.”

Expected at the end of January, ‘When We Stay Alive’ features additional production from Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Boyz Noize, and has been preceded by the darkly ominous electro-pop of lead single ‘Driving’.

Phoebe Bridgers - TBA

Release date: TBA

Since her debut ‘Stranger In The Alps’ (one of our Albums of 2017), Phoebe Bridgers has been busy forming supergroups with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus (boygenius) and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst (Better Oblivion Community Center) as well as collaborating with everyone from The National's Matt Berninger to (reportedly) The 1975.

Admitting that her extracurriculars had “derailed” work on her second album, Bridgers recently told NME that the experience gained from these projects have fed back into her solo work, making her “feel like the boss of my own music in the best way… I’m not afraid to have a really weird idea or, you know, take a really bad guitar solo.”

“The production is totally different to my first record,” Bridgers added. "People still kind of think of me as like a folk artist, but... [On the new record] I do a little bit of screaming on what we’ve recorded so far.” Sadly, though, there will be no sign of a David Duchovny cameo on the new record, with Bridgers explaining that previous rumours stemmed originally from a joke she made on Instagram: “I wish he was on it! There is kind of a song about aliens on this record, so…”

Run the Jewels - 'Run the Jewels 4'

Release date: TBA

Run the Jewels’ upcoming fourth album is the longest fans have had to wait since their game-changing debut was released in 2013 - RTJ2 followed in 2014, then cat-themed remix album Meow the Jewels (yes, really) in 2015 and RTJ3 in 2016. Since then, the duo have restricted their activity to the odd standalone single (one for the FIFA 18 soundtrack and another for the Tom Hardy-starring Marvel film, Venom).

The latter track, the gnarly nu-metal-ish 'Let’s Go (The Royal We)', has been called a starting point of what to expect from RTJ4, with rapper/producer El-P saying the pair intend to “make the grimiest, rawest record we possibly can,” while his counterpart Killer Mike has said to Beats 1's Zane Lowe that the Rick Rubin-produced record will “punch you in the f**king face and burn everything in its path.”

When shall we expect the album? Soon, it seems. In November 2019, Killer Mike tweeted that he was listening to RTJ4 on a plane (“incomplete but still”).

Tame Impala - 'The Slow Rush'

Release date: 14 February

“It’s been the year of pressure, 2019,” Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker told Lauren Laverne on 6 Music in November. Most of the pressure stemmed from himself, he admitted; a ticking clock to finish the band’s fourth album, which lands five years after 2015’s ‘Currents’.

As is tradition for Parker, he worked in isolation between Fremantle, Australia and Malibu, California. For the latter, his AirBnb was caught up in last year’s California wildfires. He fled the flat with his laptop, without realising the extent of the fires.

As for the album title, he says: “it means a lot of things. Above everything, I like the way it makes me feel. It’s an oxymoron, a paradox. It describes to me how I feel about time."

We're also expecting new albums from...

Baxter Dury - 'The Night Chancers' (20 March)
Ben Watt - 'Storm Damage' (31 Jan)
Best Coast - 'Always Tomorrow'
Childish Gambino - TBA
Colin Stetson – 'In the Clinches' (March)
The Cure - TBA
Dan Deacon - 'Mystic Familiar' (31 Jan)
Deftones - TBA
Destroyer - 'Have We Met' (31 Jan)
The Districts - 'You Know I'm Not Going Anywhere' (13 March)
Everything Everything - TBA
Field Music - 'Making a New World' (10 Jan)
Frank Ocean – TBA
Georgia - 'Seeking Thrills' (10 Jan)
Holy F - TBA (17 Jan)
La Roux - 'Supervision' (7 Feb)
Lana Del Rey - 'White Hot Forever'
Lanterns on the Lake – 'Spook The Herd' (21 Feb)
Mystery Jets - 'A Billion Heartbeats' (3 April)
Nadine Shah - TBA
Sorry - '925'
Wire - 'Mind Hive' (24 Jan)

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