Spring Music Preview 2020: 10 Must-Hear Albums

From Paramore’s Hayley Williams to Neil Young and Charli XCX, there's plenty of new tunes on the way.

Photo illustration: Alex Kidd

Even though we’ve seen a disappointing amount of albums that have pushed release dates to later in the year (or indefinitely) due to COVID-19, we’re here to remind you there’s still lots of great new music and new albums on the way.

Here are 10 albums we’re highly anticipating, set to hit our earbuds this spring—they should tide you over until we can all go back outside and blast them with our friends.

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Hayley Williams – Petals for Armor (May 8)

The first solo release from the powerful Paramore vocalist, Hayley Williams describes the album’s title as her realization that “the best way for me to protect myself is to be vulnerable.” Although her longtime Paramore bandmate, guitarist Taylor York, handles production, what we’ve heard so far hasn’t been much like the grungy alt-rock of her past or even the rhythmic synth-pop of her band’s reinvention. Instead, Williams’ voice is at a near-whisper over some eerie lo-fi instrumentals.

 

Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now (May 15) 

Only eight months after dropping one of last year’s best pop albums, Charli XCX announced this project through a livestream detailing her newfound feelings of inspiration she developed by being cooped up in her house. With a heavy dose of fan involvement, including plans to feature fan-made remixes, album artwork and even music videos, hearing the work one of the most forward-thinking pop artists has created with the limited to the tools in her own home should be interesting.

 

Neil Young – Homegrown (June 20)

An album 46 years in the making and frequently regarded as “one of the great lost albums,” legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young’s 1974 project, discarded in favour of the more upbeat Tonight’s The Night, will finally be released to the public. The album will feature largely acoustic material and tracks that Young described as “too personal” about the downfall of a marriage, and will be added to Young’s extensive list of archival albums he’s been releasing recently.

 

Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? (June 5)

Jessie Ware is tired of her songs making you feel sad all the time. The UK soul-pop artist is diving into a new era full of more funk-influenced and danceable beats that serves as an ode to the simple pleasures in life, saying that she’s been “yearning for that escapism and groove, and maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the melancholy Jessie.” Expect collaborators ranging from electronic auteur Kindness to Arctic Monkeys producer James Ford. 

 

Austra – Hirudin (May 1)

Trust an eccentric and experimental talent like Austra to name her album after an anticoagulant chemical released by leeches. In this case, she wants to unstick herself from the chaotic maze of feelings brought on during her slow detachment from an unhealthy relationship. Set to the tune of percussion-heavy dance-pop, Austra sets out to face her insecurities and exorcise some demons.

 

 

Polo G – I Am What I Am It Is What It Is (TBD)

Polo G has already amassed a huge following with last summer’s Die A Legend debut and is looking to strike again quickly. The 21-year-old Chicago rapper continues his hot streak with melodic rap tune “DND,” the latest track to be revealed from his highly-anticipated street-savvy sophomore outing. A strong contender for rap album of the year.

 

 

Built To Spill – Built To Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston (June 12)

Veteran indie-rock band Built To Spill’s first full-length album in five years will serve as a tribute to cult musical hero and “Godfather of Bedroom Pop” Daniel Johnston. Members of Built to Spill played alongside on his final tour before he passed away last year. Mostly staying true to Johnston’s yearning vocals and serene acoustic chords, the band have stated that they want the album to serve as a picture of what their rehearsals with Johnston were like. 

 

Diet Cig – Do You Wonder About Me? (May 1)

The indie-rock duo’s sophomore project will be packed with ruminations on growing as people and trying to adapt to the single life, as singer and guitarist Alex Luciano’s sweet and poppy vocal delivery augments her crunchier instrumental sound, making it verge on post-hardcore. The band has said this project will be “inspired by the melodrama of reality TV and musical theatre,” so prepare for something that’s over-the-top in all the best possible ways.

 

Magnetic Fields – Quickies (May 15)

Adapting to the short song trend as the listening public migrates over to streaming, the concept behind the indie-pop quintet’s aptly-titled latest album Quickies is fitting.  Each song under a three-minute runtime. Frontman Stephin Merritt credits his inspiration to reading “very short fiction.” Luckily, in line with a couple of their other very lengthy projects, the album is loaded with twenty-eight songs, all with rather hilarious titles. 

 

The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form (May 22)

The stylistically manic British pop-rock band appears to be taking another experimental turn with their upcoming project, frontman Matty Healy noting that they’ve been drawing inspiration from alternative hip-hop and even UK garage artist Burial. With singles already displaying heaps of Healy’s spaced-out philosophical musings and even an original speech from Greta Thunberg, it’s their longest project yet and the band are ready to overload your brain.

 

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