The Top Five Albums of Quarantine

Henry Bova, A&L Page Director

  1. How I’m Feeling Now- Charli XCX (Pop)

An album crafted during quarantine about quarantine, Charli follows up on her expansive 2019 self-titled album with something more intimate, as she ruminates on her mental health and what she misses most. This album doesn’t feel depressing, however, as wild production from experimental pop producers like AG Cook and Dylan Brady are found all over this record. There is a really nice ebb and flow to this album too, with noisy songs like “pink diamond,” “anthems,” and “claws” contrasted with poppier songs like “forever,” “detonate,” and “i finally understand.” This album does a great job of conveying the restlessness and longing many felt during the early stages of quarantine while never sounding too sad. It’s a fun listen about a period that was anything but.


  1. Alfredo- Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist (Hip Hop)

Freddie Gibbs cannot miss, whether that’s with his music or his Instagram stories. Coasting off the success of 2019’s Bandana, a collab album with famed producer Madlib, Gibbs returns with The Alchemist, on Alfredo. Alfredo is low-key and rough around the edges compared to Bandana, but the high quality is just the same. The slow and dark production of The Alchemist fits Gibbs’ cadence perfectly, as Gibbs raps about trafficking drugs while sprinkling in some hilarious pop culture references like on “1985.” As always, Freddie raps about his past life selling drugs in its grittiest form, never trying to glorify it. Gibbs also pulls some fantastic features, such as Tyler The Creator (“Something to Rap About,”) Benny The Butcher (“Frank Lucas,”) and Rick Ross (“Scottie Beam.”) This type of album is nothing new for Freddie Gibbs, but once again his technical abilities shine over old school production.


  1. Fetch The Bolt Cutters- Fiona Apple (Art Pop)

Fiona Apple’s long-awaited fifth studio album is bitter and in your face. On Fetch The Bolt Cutters, many of the 13 songs feature just piano, bass, Apple’s voice, and whatever was lying around to drum with (anything from glass bottles to barking dogs can be heard in the background of each song.) Yet, it feels like a live wire, ready to explode at any moment. That is due to the subject matter, mainly about breaking away from bad relationships and patriarchal constructs. She details both of these in songs like “Newspaper” and “Under The Table.” There’s also a track dedicated in-part to Christine Blasey-Ford, the woman who was allegedly raped by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, titled “For Her,” with a downright startling ending. There are a few tamer moments too, like “I Want You To Love Me” and “Cosmonauts,” along with “Shameika,” an important childhood memory told by Apple over a rumbling piano line. 


  1. RTJ4- Run The Jewels (Hip Hop)

In a year with a tumultuous political climate and mass protests, Run The Jewels has made its most fitting soundtrack. The duo of Killer Mike and El-P returns to continue what they’ve done their whole career, make hard-hitting, politically-charged rap. On RTJ4, they present a nonstop ride of outrage and anger, all put over the off-the-wall production of El-P. The album opens with an onslaught of grimey but fun songs like “out of sight ft. 2 Chainz,” before taking a more serious turn with “walking in the snow,” “JU$T,” and the orchestral closer “a few words for the firing squad (radiation).” Even though the whole album was recorded in 2019, the album is arguably more relevant now, as it touches on class inequality, abuse of power, and police brutality. The album was released during the first wave of protests following the murder of George Floyd, and features a verse from Killer Mike on “walking in the snow” where he warns that Americans have grown too complacent with fighting for equal justice, even whispering the words “I can’t breathe,” Floyd’s last words. 


  1. The New Abnormal- The Strokes (Alternative Rock)

The Strokes seemed like a band that had nothing left in the tank, putting out their last album seven years ago, the hit-or-miss Comedown Machine. However, the Rick Rubin produced New Abnormal is their most engaging and inspired sounding work in over 15 years. Their comeback album features their widest array of styles ever while also being their most refined album since debut Is This It back in 2001. Consisting of 80’s throwbacks like “Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus” and “Bad Decisions,” synth-heavy slow-burners like “Eternal Summer” and left-field “At The Door,” and classic Strokes-style rock tunes like “The Adults Are Talking” and “Ode To The Mets,” The New Abnormal features something for everyone. Although the project is all over the place stylistically, the quality never drops. The New Abnormal is proof that, even 20 years into a band’s career, they can still come out with top-notch material.