I don’t think we’ve ever been so excited to finally share our end of the year lists. Not only in the sense that we’re happy 2020 is over with, but the music that got us through it was simply spectacular. In a year that was generally tough on the music industry as a whole, artists like Four Tet, GRiZ, Disclosure, and the others included on this list continued to pump out amazing music—and we’re thankful for that.
Our first list here is our 20 favorite electronic albums of 2020. From debut albums to major milestones, each artist on this list composed a brilliant piece of work that we consider to be the best of what we heard throughout the year. We’ve also included a couple honorable mentions since there was some we just couldn’t leave out.
Below you will find the list of our favorite electronic music albums of the year, beginning our number one favorite album. Enjoy!
1. Four Tet – Sixteen Oceans
At the beginning of the previous decade, Four Tet already had been releasing music for ten years, with five studio albums under his belt. His sound was still heavily experimental. In 2012 however, with Pink, the progression of more dialed-in and danceable rhythms began, as did his notoriety. In 2020, by way of Beautiful Rewind and New Energy, we arrived at 2020’s Sixteen Oceans, Four Tet’s tenth, studio album, and his best work to date.
Sixteen Oceans is the perfect example of an artist who is displaying the mastery of their craft. The arrangements are perfect, the melodies obscure but familiar, and the complexity of the different grooves and drum patterns constantly keep the listener on their toes. Some tracks are clearly and tastefully meant for you to move to, while others are abstract daydream vignettes.
Standout tracks: “Baby,” “Romnatics,” & “Love Salad”
2. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You
Not only did The Avalanches recruit a myriad of talent for their third studio album, but the production and layout of the project was immaculately eclectic and finely tuned. The Australian electric outfit already rose to the occasion with their return after 16 years with Wildflower in 2016, but We Will Always Love You is an even more impressive follow-up.
It’s rare for an album to have as many as 25 tracks, but to also not have a single skippable one is rarer. Unforgettable dance anthems like “Wherever You Go” with Jamie xx and charming love ballads like “Running Red Lights” with Weezer’s River Cuomo are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to We Will Always Love You.
Standout tracks: “Wherever You Go,” “The Divine Chord,” & “Interstellar Love”
3. Jim-E Stack – EPHEMERA
Jim-E Stack uncovered a sweet sentimental scene on EPHEMERA and directed it flawlessly. He managed to find and enlist the perfect artists to further illustrate this wispy and bittersweet love story—but only when they’re needed. The intoxicatingly rich production does most of the lifting. There’s only one solo track, “Belong 2,” but through clever sampling (which is all over the album), Jim-E is able to fashions his own hooks and verses.
Any time we hit play on this project, we knew we were going to feel something. With only 7 tracks, it easily became one of our most listened to albums of the year. The only other thing we from this album was more songs, but perhaps Jim-E just wanted to give us a glimpse into this world he created.
Standout tracks: “Sweet Summer Sweat,” “Belong 2,” & “Note To Self”
4. BRONSON – BRONSON
Many ODESZA fans were probably wondering, after two brilliant studio albums, if they would ever see a darker side to the duo. In 2020, they would, as that darker side was brought out into the limelight by none other than Australian producer Golden Features, who had one of our favorite albums of 2018. With ODESZA and Golden Features momentously joining forces as BRONSON, all eyes in electronic music were on them to deliver, and that they did.
We didn’t just get an ODESZA and Golden Features collab album. BRONSON is something else, a project that exceeds the sum of their wholes. Each one of these tracks could easily be considered a club weapon (with inspiration drawn from garage, breakbeat, and techno), but they also each have their own emotional dimension, creating a super-cohesive collection of ten bangers that tell a story.
Standout tracks: “HEART ATTACK,” “KNOW ME,” & “KEEP MOVING”
5. Caribou – Suddenly
We had a feeling Suddenly from Caribou might make it on this list when he first unveiled the project to the world back in February. This was the Canadian producer’s first new studio album in five years, and as we listened to this album, one thing became exceedingly clear — Caribou is on a different level. The combination of genres, meters, and melodies that seamlessly mesh together under a mellow but purposeful energy is nothing short of breathtaking. That level of mastery of song and sound is the result of a career spanning two decades, and the fact that Caribou continued to one up himself with Suddenly is a testament to his creativity as an artist.
Standout tracks: “Home,” “You & I,” & “Never Come Back”
6. Disclosure – ENERGY
Even though the world shut down this year, the Disclosure brothers had themselves one hell of year, culminating in the release of arguably the most anticipated album of the year, ENERGY. The rollout was relentless, it practically felt like we were getting new Disclosure music every week. As songs like “Tondo,” “Etran,” and “Ecstasy,” led us into the teaser EP, Ecstasy, we knew we were in for an evolved new sound. They explored the boundaries of house music utilizing more African based themes from feature artists like Eko Roosevelt and Etran Finatawa, while also leaning into the soul of R&B and Hip-Hop with artist like Kehlani and Common. As the title implies, energy is a central focus of this standout album, and it ebbs and flows beautifully like powerful waves into tranquil rivers for a highly satisfying and complete listening experience.
Standout tracks: “My High,” “Douha (Mali Mali),” & “Birthday”
7. Aluna – Renaissance
Renaissance was a huge stepping stone for Aluna as her first solo project. The album gave us the voice we love from the AlunaGeorge project on top of the diverse spectrum of her own production, as well as features from other TSIS favs like KAYTRANADA, Mr. Carmack, SG Lewis, and more. We’ve always known that Aluna had top notch studio and vocal talents, but seeing them flourish in a stand alone project was definitely a highlight of the year. Belters like “I’ve Been Starting To Love All The Things I Hate,” and “Off Guard” stand hand in hand with party starters like “Don’t Hit My Line,” and “Body Pump,” and side by side with mumbah-kissed tracks “Back Up” and “Pressure.” Aluna flexed the range of her talents in a major way on Renaissance keeping the album fresh all the way through the end of the year.
Standout tracks: “The Recipe,” “Body Pump,” & “Ain’t My Business”
8. Lane 8 – Brightest Lights
Lane 8 made one of the prettiest electronic albums of the year, further proving himself to be one of the best melodic house producers out there. Brightest Lights was 13 tracks of pure bliss. Softly thumping four-to-the-floor beats, sublime melodies, and stirring vocals underscore the project. The album contains tangible energy throughout and offers cathartic release in its rousing crescendos. Lane 8 has continued to pump out an impressive slate of tracks following the album’s release. With refined production and delicate beauty, Brightest Lights gripped us with its elegance and released us to dance away into Lane 8’s melodic atmosphere. It was one of the most replay-able house albums of the year.
Standout tracks: “Brightest Lights,” “Don’t Let Me Go,” & “How Often”
9. Kasbo – The Making of a Paracosm
Following up the highly praised and timeless Places We Don’t Know with sophomore album The Making Of A Paracosm, Swedish producer Kasbo proved that he had a special ability to put together a moving album with a unique electronic production style. The sweeping synths and haunting vocals on this 14-track album took listeners on a spine-tingling journey through vast soundscapes rich with emotion and beauty. The album mesmerized, pushing the boundaries of electronic music with futuristic sound design that carried listeners up and away into Kasbo’s own paracosm.
Standout tracks: “Play Pretend,” “Blur,” & “Lune”
10. GRiZ – Chasing The Golden Hour Pt. 3
GRiZ had kept us thoroughly fed this past calendar year with all of the Bangers EPs that he dropped, and to balance it all out, he came through with part three of his celebrated sunset-vibe project, Chasing The Golden Hour. This project is technically a mixtape, but it was too good to omit. We constantly found ourselves goin back to this one on a regular basis every time we needed a mood lift. It’s yet another testament to GRiZ and his capabilities to do whatever he wants when it comes to production, and we salute him for crushing it once again.
Standout tracks: “Gettin High, Havin Fun,” “Sweet,” & “Where Will I Go”
11. Tchami – YEAR ZERO
YEAR ZERO was everything we could have wanted from a new Tchami album. Loaded bottom to top with just about every shade of house, this album showed us just how far the Confession label boss has come as an artist. The French producer’s years of industry leading experience shine through as he explores the emotional vibrancies of dance music with the help of wide range of artists from legendary gospel singer, Marlena Shaw, to infamous deep diver, ZHU. This project was sixteen tracks of diverse, uptempo house with that cool, dynamic Tchami flare, and we couldn’t have wished for anything better.
Standout tracks: “Buenos Aires,” “Praise,” & “All On Me”
12. Baauer – PLANET’S MAD
Baauer’s production level sky-rocketed since his 2015 debut album Aa. He was already a force to be reckoned with in the early 2010s, but 2020’s PLANET’S MAD shows Baauer stepping further outside the trap realm in which he was born into. The sounds on this project loud, brutal, and clearly meant to be played at a very high volume. Baauer’s experimentation here paid off, as it was not only his most impressive work to date, but it also earned his first GRAMMY nomination for Best Dance Album.
Standout tracks: “MAGIC,” “REACHUPDONTSTOP,” & “AETHER”
13. Whethan – Fantasy
Whethan’s first full length album was highly impressive. The 21-year-old producer cemented himself as one of electronic music’s most promising young talents with Fantasy, a 15 track album containing a host of diverse influences and sounds that embody the future of popular electronic music. The tracklist also included the upper echelon of collaborators on this album, with tracks featuring the likes of Jaymes Young, RL Grime, The Knocks, STRFKR, Grouplove, K Flay… the list goes on. On Fantasy, Whethan demonstrated immense versatility alongside his production skills to produce an album full of catchy and fun tracks.
Standout tracks: “Freefall,” “Hurting On Purpose,” & “Outta Here”
14. Kelly Lee Owns – Inner Song
If you’ve been sleeping on Kelly Lee Owns, now is the perfect time to wake up. Her sophomore project, Inner Song, is really unlike any album we’ve ever heard before. One moment you’re caught in a web of her ethereal vocals, and the next she’s dropping an absolutely filthy bass line. We’ve never seen someone combine indie music with minimal house and warehouse-worthy techno, and the result not only caught us off guard, but it left us with our jaw on the floor.
Standout tracks: “Om,” “Melt!,” & “Re-Wild”
15. Elderbrook – Why Do We Shake In The Cold?
While Elderbrook has been making waves in the dance music scene for a while now, he has finally graced us with his debut record. The British artist has been on our radar for a while now, and he did not disappoint with Why Do We Shake In The Cold? Featuring 11 songs, including his celebrated collabs with Rudimental and CamelPhat, it’s a light and upbeat album that just makes you want to hop into a groove and forget your worries. Standout tracks include “Numb” and “My House”, which pairs a disco vibe and his effortlessly cool vocals.
Standout tracks: “All My Love,” “Numb,” & “My House”
16. Louis The Child – Here For Now
With Louis The Child being one of the most beloved names in EDM for the past few years, it’s surprising that they had to yet to drop an official full-length project. With 2020 giving them a well-deserved break from playing venues all around the globe, Fred and Robbie had time to get to work and it culminated in the much-anticipated Here For Now. The record is jam-packed with their classic sound and bouncy bops, and has a long list of coveted featured artists, including Quinn XCII, Foster The People, and Bob Moses. This was another much needed feel-good project that we were very fond of.
Standout tracks: “Big Love,” “What A World,” & “Free”
17. JOYRYDE – Brave
JOYRYDE is one of those producers who was blowing people away with every forward-thinking single, so the hype for Brave was through the roof. Brave was scheduled to be released in late 2018, but due to various different reasons, it did not drop until this spring. The entire album goes ridiculously hard from start to finish, and is a marvelous mixture of multiple genres, with elements of house, hip-hop, and trap, and plenty of bass. It’s everything we could have wanted from a JOYRYDE debut album.
Standout tracks: “ON FIRE,” “SELECTA 19,” & “MADDEN”
18. Big Gigantic – Free Your Mind
Colorado favorites Big Gigantic returned to the studio to create more jazzed-up electronic magic with their seventh album, Free Your Mind. The record channels a familiar high-frequency vibration that we have come to adore Big G for. With the assistance of some amazing singers like Pell and Jennifer Hartswick and fellow producers like Louis Futon, the result is a full bill of feel-good tunes. We can’t wait until things go back to normal so we can be treated to this tracklist live at Rowdytown.
Standout tracks: “Let The Speakers Blow,” “Free Your Mind,” & “St. Lucia.”
19. CloZee – Neon Jungle
With her freshman album, Evasion, CloZee gripped the world with her enigmatic form of bass music, which has been dubbed “world bass.” Two years later, she returns with an evolved mastery of that unique sound, combining tribal influences with shaking bass while continuing to push boundaries. The result was an album that was beautifully organic and deeply moving. With CloZee already standing out from the crowd so early on in her career, we can’t wait to see what she conjures up next.
Standout tracks: “Neon Jungle,” “Winter Is Coming,” & “Heya”
20. Fakear – Everything Will Grow Again
French synth-god Fakear blessed our ears this summer with Everything Will Grow Again, a dazzling 11-song LP that was released in June. Each song features eclectic instrumentals and chords that weave together to produce a uniquely beautiful sound, and the album as a whole is a transcendent auditory experience. It’s comprised of mainly ambient and downtempo harmonies, but there are a few clubby gems tucked in there to really round out the sound.
Standout tracks: “Carrie,” “Structurized,” & “Tadlo”
Two Fingers – FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Two Fingers, coveted Brazilian producer Amon Tobin’s bass-heavy side project, has done it again with FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! It had been a while since we’ve heard from him, and his reappearance is a sweet surprise packed with his quintessential grit and grime. The record is sure to please drum & bass fans, glitch-hop lovers, and everyone in-between, with a crinkled, crunchy bass line and polished production.
Standout tracks: “Rockyou Feelit,” “Razzy Beat,” & “Boss Rhythm”
TOKiMONSTA – Oasis Nocturno
TOKiMONSTA has had quite the ride over the last few years. From battling Moyamoya disease to releasing Lune Rouge after regaining her ability to hear and make music, this year she delivered the product of her expertly sharpened skills via Oasis Nocturno. With inspiration from all over the electronic, indie & hip-hop spectrums, TOKi truly embodied the spirit of genre-defiance on this lovely 12-track project.
Standout tracks: “Get Me Some,” “Fried For The Night,” & “Up and Out”
Catz n Dogz – Moments
Catz n Dogz may be most known for their extensive and prolific catalog of house music, but the Polish duo branched out this year with Moments. While we’ve always been a fan of their club-focused work, this project shows that they’re more versatile than we once thought. The album plays out like an immaculate indie dance number, and its one we had to mention alongside the rest of our favorites for 2020.
Standout tracks: “Sunrise,” “Time”, & “It’s Ok”