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Hunty Bear

REYCISM: Hunty Bear's 2020 Year-End

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Welcome to the sixth annual Reycism: The Year In Reyview year-end thread! Yes...we know, "Reycism" did not age well lmao. Someone needs to put Lana in her place! This is the sixth installment of a tradition that four of us long-time Lana stans ( @Lachlan @Andres @Americunt and yours truly) have upheld over the past six years, honoring our favorite musical releases of the year. Since we now have a year-end section, we'll each be posting our own lists separately in individual threads. Stay tuned for everyone's lists (AKA any of us who've mustered up the energy to make one this year)!

2020 was truly the worst year ever, but thankfully we've had some great album releases to mitigate the pain and trauma that this year has inflicted upon all of us lol. I'll be listing my top 20 albums of the year, released in chronological order, with few honorable mentions bookending the list. I've gotten a bit lazy so I might post irregularly but I'll try my best to finish this project before the new year!

PAST REYVIEWSTM
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2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019

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When King Krule’s Man Alive! first dropped back in February (a pre-COVID age), I didn’t expect it to have nearly as much longevity with me as it did. Being a freeform, impressionistic collage of atmospheric vignettes and arcane lyricism, Man Alive! intrigued me on a creative level but didn’t quite captivate in the same visceral way that his previous album, The OOZ, did. However, with the onset of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures, this album became a mode of transport for me — an indulgent listening experience that weirdly encapsulated the bleakness of COVID-era isolation while also standing as a touchstone of happier pre-lockdown days. Yes, the album is aesthetically murky and despondent, but there’s also something quite beautiful about the imagery that it conjures that keeps me coming back to it. 

laIGQVp.png?1 "Cellular", "Alone, Omen 3", "Perfecto Miserable", "Airport Antenatal Airplane"

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In a year teeming with relentless, unwavering trauma and self-reflection, the ethereal debut record Forever, Ya Girl by Chicago-bred keiyaA is musical therapy. Colliding dreamlike, lo-fi R&B styles with keiyaA’s silk and breezy vocals, this album feels weightless. More importantly, however, Forever, Ya Girl is essential messaging — presenting pertinent and personal odes of self-preservation and Black pride in a year bookended by emphatic volumes of racial strife and anguish. Though its homespun and nostalgic qualities make it a 2020 standout musically, its prescient, cathartic, and space-holding lyricism is what elevates it into a zeitgeist-capturing statement piece.

laIGQVp.png?1 "Nu World Burdens", "Hvnli", "Rectifiya", "A Mile, A Way"

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Fulfilling the self-assigned niche of a chameleonic popstar, Yves Tumor’s past few records have asserted him as an experimental vanguard in the underground scene (though to mixed results, personally). Heaven to a Tortured Mind, however, is by far his best yet, assuming the identity of a glam rock icon and expanding his niche into unprecedented creative territories. This album is truly mind-melting, being equal parts grunge yet methodical, forward-thinking yet nostalgic, psychedelic yet potent, and experimental yet somehow incredibly accessible. All of these diverging qualities converge in the dynamic album opener, “Gospel for a New Century,” an irresistibly catchy rock slow-burner that effortlessly sets the tone for the rest of the record. With material as cerebral and electric as this, it’s clear that the mystifying "Yves Tumor" brand stays ahead of the curve.

laIGQVp.png?1 "Gospel for a New Century", "Kerosene!", "Romanticist", "Dream Palette", "Super Star"

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Though Rina Sawayama’s self-titled debut is a singular and personal exploration of trauma and triumph, the wide range of emotions it presents resonated with me on a deep level. With a vast musical soundscape that could be essentialized down to its campy, nu-metal, late 90s-reverent pop roots, this album is obviously nothing short of musically eclectic, electric, and exhilarating. However, beyond the glossy veneer of her snappy pop melodies and the glistening instrumentals lies a strangely illuminating portrayal of intergenerational trauma, cultural displacement, and intersectional identity — themes that no one else in pop is talking about right now. Sprinkle in scathing indictments of capitalism, toxic masculinity, and orientalism and you pretty much have the 2020 Gen Z Bible. In invoking every facet of her identity — a queer, first-generation millennial POC – Rina Sawayama has created one of the boldest, most-referential, and exciting albums of the year that doubles as a contender for my personal album of the year. If nothing else, SAWAYAMA is a creative melting-pot and a leftist thesis statement — literally what else do you need?

laIGQVp.png?1 "Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys)", "XS", "Akasaka Sad", "Tokyo Love Hotel", "Love Me 4 Me", "Bad Friend", "STFU!"

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Very much akin to Rina Sawayama’s self-titled album, Lido Pimienta’s Miss Colombia is a “cynical love letter” to her home country — a tribute to healing from colonial wounds and an exploration of her complicated relationship with her heritage. Spotlighting her Afro-Colombian and indigenous roots, Lido Pimienta paints a beautifully complex picture of Colombia, exploring themes of displacement and resistance set to a gorgeous and pristine bed of traditional Colombian acoustics (with swells of electronic and cumbia for added color). Sung entirely in Spanish and seamlessly combining traditional elements with electronic styles, Miss Colombia is an innovative and masterful portrait of a queer immigrant visionary. Though Miss Colombia might be one of the prettiest albums I’ve heard all year, its true beauty lies in its cultural capital, standing as a triumphant and empowering reclamation of her identity.

laIGQVp.png?1 "Eso Que Tu Haces", "Nada", "No Pude", "Te Queria"

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As a relatively fan of Quelle Chris, the novelty of his idiosyncratic and satirical approach to rap music has yet to wear thin for me. Imbuing the generally brooding and sinister nature of his music with a nonchalant sense of humor is what makes Quelle’s music so special; naturally, framing his charisma with the buoyant, jazzy stylings of producer Chris Keys makes this album feel all the more blissful and sobering. Innocent Country 2 is a surreal and shapeshifting meditation on life, indulgence, and love, leveraging the eternal appeal of jazz rap with the headiness of Quelle’s lyricism. Though I’m still trying to work out the concept behind this album, I can still appreciate it for presents at face-value: a sunny, playful rumination on life soundtracked by some of the most diverse and rich production I’ve heard all year.
 

laIGQVp.png?1 "Sacred Safe", "Graphic Bleed Outs", "Living Happy", "Make It Better", "Horizon"

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In a spurt of creativity while confined at home during lockdown, ever-prolific gay messiah Charli XCX wrote, recorded, and released how i’m feeling now — her second album in as many years and a hallmark of the COVID age. Whereas 2019’s Charli assembled a superstar ensemble of guest features, how i’m feeling now opted for a skeleton crew of only a few producers and the constructive input of her fanbase. In stark contrast with the usual maximalism of her music, how i’m feeling now captures the zeitgeist unlike any album I’ve heard this year, offering introspective and morose reflections on the state of the world during the very specific window of time that it took to craft this record. The result is something truly special: an effervescent synthpop wonder with a lurking undercurrent of anxiety and despondency, a true encapsulation of the headiness and mind-numbing nature of 2020. Whether you like the album or not, it’s undeniable that how i’m feeling now is one of the most important and consequential albums of the year, serving as a time capsule amidst unprecedented industry upheaval and universal creative impairment. Thankfully, the album is just as special as the conditions that informed its inception, with the warm, volatile and abrasive love-letter “forever” already ranking amongst her best songs to date.

laIGQVp.png?1 "forever", "enemy", "detonate", "pink diamond", "visions"

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Mike Hadreas' Perfume Genius moniker almost seems like a theatrical rendering of the "melodramatic brooding gay" archetype that everyone knew at least one of in high school, but with the most unbelievable and transformative post-graduation sexual awakening. His fifth album, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, is the perfect encapsulation of that: cinematic, physical, and bursting at the seams with queer energy but packaged in the most deliriously depressive soundscape. This album is hard to pin down, seamlessly vacillating between a variety of styles, ranging from rock, baroque, pop, electronic, and even vaporwave, all canvassed under a brand that can best be described as queer subversions of modern romantic tropes. I’ve been told that this is Perfume Genius’ “boldest” album to date — I can’t quite make that same judgment call, since I’m still wading through his discography, but it stands as a great entry-point into his discography and one of the most interesting albums of the year.

laIGQVp.png?1 "On the Floor", "Describe", "Leave", "Without You"

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Just now, Urbi said:

But where is Jessie Ware missy clap3 

coming fatty, clock the profile pic clap3 I still can't decide if it or SAWAYAMA is my AOTY?

I've been so lazy and drained this year tbh, usually I write all of my year-ends in advance but now I'm trying to cram them all in before the year ends so I don't have to keep working on this when 2021 starts dead4 

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Just now, Liam said:

SAWAYAMA gorgeous some members of Reycism do not understand the excellence

some members of Reycism prefer her EP for some inexplicable reason...I have to laugh 🤭 gag1 hope you're doing well btw! lowkey spoiler but Shabrang will be an HM because I only got into it recently lmao

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21 minutes ago, Hunty Bear said:

coming fatty, clock the profile pic clap3 I still can't decide if it or SAWAYAMA is my AOTY?

I've been so lazy and drained this year tbh, usually I write all of my year-ends in advance but now I'm trying to cram them all in before the year ends so I don't have to keep working on this when 2021 starts dead4 

WYP? definitely a Top 5 for me with Ungodly Hour, It Is What It Is, Apolonio and Fuck The World even though the latter two feel like slightly longer EPs dead2 I’m conflicted this year... too many great albums clap3 

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1 hour ago, Urbi said:

WYP? definitely a Top 5 for me with Ungodly Hour, It Is What It Is, Apolonio and Fuck The World even though the latter two feel like slightly longer EPs dead2 I’m conflicted this year... too many great albums clap3 

unfortunately I didn't really like Apolonio (even though he performed at my school lol) and while It Is What It Is has some of my favorite songs of the year (Fair Chance, Dragonball Durag, Black Qualls, etc.) it also had a bit of filler imo jj3 didn't listen to Fuck the World but Ungodly Hour is great! lowkey didn't make the list because the second half did not engage me as much as the first half, but it's very replayable 

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Despite being released in the middle of summer, Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher seems built for the consuming malaise of the wintertime. Coupled with her wry and sardonic sense of humor (which makes for an endlessly entertaining Twitter page), the textured melancholy of her music makes for an eerily precise manifestation of quarantine-fueled cynicism and depression. Punisher is an album that leans into the misery, chaos, and solitude of 2020, and yet there’s also a sense of timelessness to it. Perhaps we can attribute that to the incredibly diaristic and evocative lyricism, which snugly complements the already delicate and subtle musical arrangements of songs like “Garden Song” with much needed color and personality. There’s lots of (great) sad music to come out in 2020, and I think that Punisher will be noted as one of the best encapsulations of the true anguish and misery that this year has brought.

laIGQVp.png?1 "Garden Song", "Punisher", "Kyoto", "Savior Complex"

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