Best of Albums of 2019

This was one of the first years that I actively followed the current music scene and because of that I feel compelled to make a top ten albums of the year list. It’s important to note that this is my personal list and doesn’t reflect the opinion of the Foreword as a whole or the opinion of an actual music critic. 


Now let’s get to the list: 


10. 100 gecs – 1000 gecs

2019 has been a fantastic year for pop. From Lana Del Rey’s critically acclaimed Norman Fucking Rockwell to newcomer Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You, it is hard to deny that a large amount of the best albums this year have been pop albums (many of which will appear later in this list). Despite all the amazing pop albums that have come out, few have been as experimental as 1000 gecs. This album uses a mix of heavy bass-filled pop songs combined with samples of sirens, air horns, and basically any assortment of weird, loud, and confusing sounds. This chaotic nature of the music on the album may sound abrasive, and at first, it is, but it doesn’t take long to become fun to listen to. The comical and meme-y content of the lyrics, the most iconic one probably being the monologue before “money machine” which begins with “hey, you little piss baby,” mixed with the abrasive production and more vulnerable songs like “ringtone” makes this album one of the most enjoyable listening experiences of the year. 


9. Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

If someone asked me what the defining album of 2019 is I would automatically say IGOR. It was Tyler, the Creator’s first #1 album and gained mass critical acclaim. While Tyler’s past albums, like Flower Boy and Wolf, showed his skills as a rapper and lyricist, IGOR is Tyler’s best producing. The album shows Tyler at his best, rap-wise, with songs like “NEW MAGIC WAND.” The aggressive, threatening lyrics are in the same vein as his early work but are mixed with R&B and neo-soul to create a more vulnerable and easy-to-listen-to experience than the rest of his work. Tyler’s amazing production skills are also shown by the use of the many guest features on this album. Though many of the artists featured on the album make a variety of different music, from Lil Uzi Vert’s trap to Solange’s R&B, Tyler makes them work together perfectly on this album.  By allowing himself to be more vulnerable he creates his most emotional and musically-interesting work yet that shows his strengths as a rapper, producer, and lyricist. 


8. Lingua Ignota – CALIGULA 

If there was a Grammy category for the scariest album of the year Lingua Ignota’s CALIGULA would likely win it. The pure anger and pain expressed in this album, through Ignota’s use of classical instruments, makes an unsettling listening experience. The lyrics add to the disturbing nature of the album by expressing Ignota’s want to get revenge on the man who had abused her. While the darker nature of the content and music of the album may make it a less universal listen, I promise you that if you give it a chance it will be one of the most emotional and rewarding listening experiences you will ever have. 


7. Glass Beach – the first glass beach album

the first glass beach is overflowing with ideas. It is one of those albums where it feels as if the musician who made it just through every idea they had into one project and just hoped it worked. Normally you would think that would create a messy album, and usually it does, but for whatever reasons this almost aggressively unpolished nature of the first glass beach album works incredibly well for it. The skill of Glass Beach as musicians is largely what I would say is responsible for how good this album sounds despite its unpolished nature. It takes a lot of my favorite elements of pop-punk, the use of upbeat production and instrumentation, and mixes it with little bits of every major rock/punk genre in the 2000s, which can be seen in the emo-like theatricality of J McClendon’s singing voice or the Math Rock-like guitar solos. The ability for this album to successfully use such a diverse mix of music is what makes it so great.


6. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

Angel Olsen had repeatedly said in interviews how much of an inspiration Kate Bush was for her music so it wasn’t really a surprise when she made a sharp deviation from the indie rock that had led her to success. All Mirrors, despite being quite different from her past works, is what I consider to be Angel Olsen’s greatest work. The album concept is simple: Olsen was feeling lost both creatively and socially after finishing her previous album My Woman, and All Mirrors is a look into that feeling. She expresses this notion of loss through her skillful songwriting and the amazing voice that has been a constant for most of her musical career. But the thing that really separates this album from the rest of her work is the use of an orchestra. While Olsen’s early albums, like Burn Your Fire For No Witnesses, use the staples of indie rock, electric guitars, bass, and drums, All Mirrors employs a wide variety of instrumentation clearly inspired by Kate Bush’s Art Pop in the ‘80s. The instrumentation on this album beautifully compliments the concept of loss and creates one of the best albums of the year. 


5. Charli XCX – Charli

I already wrote a full review of this album for The Foreword. Charli is the most vulnerable works yet from British pop star Charli XCX and, with the aid of the main producer for this album, AG Cook, it sounds like it was taken from the future. “Click,” a favorite of mine on the album, perfectly expresses the futuristic sound of the album. While the lyrics of the song present themselves as a typical brag, the production on this song is anything but typical. AG Cook creates an upbeat and fun song that is filled to the brim with droning synths, vocal distortion, and strange samples that never seems to make the song lose its upbeat pace no matter how many elements are introduced. 


4. Kota the Friend – FOTO 

FOTO feels calm. It’s an album that thrives off of minimalism with Kota’s simple flows and the sparse production creating a feeling of relaxation for the listener. These minimalist aspects of the album also allow Kota’s lyricism to shine. Reflection is primarily highlighted in Kota lyrics, where she often discussed various aspects of his life from his religious upbringing. Kota’s reflections of his life are never to judgemental of his past actions or the people who have been involved in his life and often inform the listener of life lessons he has learned, like in the song “For Colored Boys.” FOTO is a great lofi hip-hop album that promotes self-love and emphasis the importance of self-reflection in your journey to become a better person. 



MAGDALENE is the first project that experimental art-pop artist FKA Twigs has released since her 3rd EP M3LL155X (pronounced Melissa) in 2015. Despite the long wait MAGDALENE may be her best project yet. While her previous album LP1 introduced FKA Twigs’ ethereal voice and skill as a producer, MAGDALENE builds on this previous established talent by creating an intensely emotional experience discussing her emotional state after a hard breakup.The album goes through the emotional ups and downs of that experience, from the feelings of fear and depression in songs like “sad day” and “daybed,” to feelings of anger and confusion, in songs like “fallen alien” and “cellophane.” These emotional beats are brought together by Twigs’ amazing producing skills which mixes experimental electronic music with R&B. MAGDALENE is a great decade closer for one of the best artists of the decade. 


2. Injury Reserve – Injury Reserve

Injury Reserve’s self-titled project is the first full length album by the rap group that has released several critically acclaimed mixtapes and EPs throughout the decade. While this album is the first work of theirs that I have listened to, it was easy to tell that it was an album made by incredibly talented musicians. The album consists of a great mix between fun bangers like the opener “Koruna & Line” and the amazing “Jailbreak the Tesla,” and more introspective and social aware songs, such as “Jawbreaker” which critiques the modern fashion industry and “What a Year It’s Been” which discusses their experiences throughout the year. The use of sampling and quest features also greatly strengthen this album. While Injury Reserve’s self-titled debut may not be the most experimental hip-hop release of 2019, it was personally my favorite. 


1. Le Butcherettes – bi/MENTAL

Le Butcherettes are a Mexican garage rock band who I first came across after watching an interview of their charismatic lead-singer Teri Gender Bender. When I first listened to bi/MENTAL, I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it. The garage rock of Le Butcherettes is constantly changing throughout the album as the band dips there feet into various other forms of garage rock. The lyricism in this album is very theatrical and similar to that of rock groups like Led Zeppelin. The strength of the band is how they use so many different styles without feeling weak.