The Five Best Indie Albums of 2020

2020 was an eventful year mostly spent on the couch grieving the loss of human interaction. One upside to the past year was the volume of new albums and EPs that got released. This list includes a few underrated indie albums that inspired me in 2020 that I’d love to bring more attention to.  

“Wachito Rico” by boy pablo  

“Wachito Rico” is boy pablo’s debut studio album that sets an inevitable expectation that this is only the beginning for the Norwegian singer. Unmatched in terms of songwriting and incorporating his Chilean heritage into his music, many of boy pablo’s songs alternate between Spanish and English. boy pablo created his album from a character he made named Wachito Rico, which in Chilean translates to “handsome boy.” His whole album is played through Wachito Rico’s eyes and centers around a boy falling in love with a girl and going on adventures with his friends. If listened in order, there is a progression of feelings from frustration and attraction to joy and sadness. Some of my favorite songs from the album include “i hope she loves me back” with its sonorous guitar riffs that blend with his sadness and “te vas // don’t go” a nostalgic Spanish/English melancholy ballad. boy pablo ends off his the album with the song “Wachito Rico,” an upbeat, jubilant song bringing a happy ending to the album. This album is perfect for fans of ROLE MODEL, girl in red, or Dayglow. 

“Orca” by Gus Dapperton  

Since last year, Gus Dapperton has gained some of the recognition he deserves through his collab with BENEE on “Supalonely,” which gained popularity through the famous TikTok dance. His sophomore album “Orca” explores behind the façade that we all wear, to delve into the depth of pain and suffering we endure from mental illnesses. He named his album “Orca” as a tribute to orca whales that are enslaved in captivity, a metaphor for being trapped in your own head. Dapperton’s songwriting ability is illustrated through “Post Humorous” and “Medicine,” in which he sings about battling his inner demons. “Medicine” is about causing self-destruction in his life so that he can get high off the healing process, summed up with the best lyric in this song, “I always say I’ll get ahead of it, but every time they fix me up, I get addicted to the medicine.” Dapperton’s ability to transform familiar, mundane feelings of pain and suffering to a process of healing and redemption is shown through his vocals that give his music a beating heart. Songs to check out from “Orca” include the two songs previously stated as well as “First Aid” and “Bluebird,” but this is a no-skip album, and it will bring back the nostalgic, self-introspective sides in all of us. This album is best for fans of Dayglow, The Marias, Still Woozy, and Hippo Campus. 

“Sunlight” by Spacey Jane 

The best bands are formed in garages, and Spacey Jane is no exception. “Sunlight” is Spacey Jane’s debut studio album, following the success of their initial two EPs. Originating from Australia, this four-piece is renowned for bringing light and happiness to underlying issues in life. The band stated that “Sunlight” is a metaphor for toxic and doomed relationships, even by giving the ‘plant’ all the sunlight possible, it still dies. Spacey Jane’s lyrics will resonate with anyone who has gone through mental illness, failed relationships or just the underlying need to escape your twenties. Spacey Jane’s signature is creating euphoric feelings through their use of trippy vocals and mirthful choruses that use joy to balance out the pain. Hit singles from the album include “Good Grief,” “Head Cold,” “Good For You” and especially “Booster Seat,” which was specifically curated for driving with your windows down. One of my favorite lines in “Good Grief” is “good grief, your own creation. Lost for words I find my patience, like in the heated moment.” This album is best for fans of Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Local Natives, and Valley. 

“Honeymoon” by Beach Bunny 

“Honeymoon” is Beach Bunny’s debut studio album, following Beach Bunny’s quick rise after their first four EPs. The album is based on the feelings of uncertainty in relationships and pushing the boundary by taking a chance on love. Sometimes, we are our greatest enemy by holding us back from happiness due to fear of rejection or a problematic future. Beach Bunny’s musical stylings use jubilant upbeat bass riffs to disguise the underlying somber lyrics that will resonate with people in their twenties. The lyric “was I ever good enough for you, there’s always someone I’m trying to live up to” in “Rearview” describes the all too familiar feeling of blaming yourself for not being good enough. Their songs encapsulate the reality of relationships after surpassing the ‘honeymoon’ stage and bringing light and happiness to people struggling through this time. The sentiment is found in their other song “Cuffing Season”; the lyric “sometimes I like being on my own, I’m afraid of winding up alone” sings true to introverts in relationships and people finding the right balance between old comfort and new love. Beach Bunny is just starting their career; I expect them to reach the top charts and be next to girl in red in the future. “Honeymoon” would be well loved by fans of Peach Pit and mxmtoon. 

“Color Theory” by Soccer Mommy 

“Color Theory” is unlike other albums because the artist based all the songs on colors and emotions associated with them. The three main colors Soccer Mommy incorporated in her music were blue for sadness and depression, yellow for physical and emotional illness and gray for darkness and loss. She wanted to make her album an outlet for anyone struggling through the merk of darkness, also known as mental illness. Arguably the best track of the album is “circle the drain,” in which the singer gets real with the audience by showcasing her own trauma and difficulty fighting through it. In “yellow is the color of her eyes,” the singer delves into her personal life by talking about her mother who has cancer. In the lyrics of the song, she desperately pleads “loving you isn’t enough, you’ll still be deep in the ground when it’s done,” showing her anguish throughout the album. Soccer Mommy is an underrated artist that deserves more recognition throughout the indie and alternative music community. This album would be perfect for fans of Snail Mail, Japanese Breakfast, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. 

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Emily Rejano

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