The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly sucked for the general music scene as live shows were rapidly canceled and studios closed, but a few artists, with suddenly a lot of free time on their hands, passed the time in quarantine by doing what they do best: making music. This week’s Songs You Should Hear features some of these albums.
How I’m Feeling Now — Charli XCX
“How I’m Feeling Now” is the fourth album from Charli XCX and was released on May 15, 2020. It is perhaps the quarantine album, as it perfectly reflects the melancholy and chaos of the world rapidly falling apart as we all remained helpless under the rubble. Many of the songs contain the desperation of trying to hold onto something that is already gone, echoing the feeling of sudden self-isolation. Charli XCX worked with producers such as BJ Burton and A. G. Cook to create the electropop album. Notable tracks are “Forever,” “Claws” and “I finally Understand.”
Folklore & Evermore — Taylor Swift
Miss Taylor Swift proved herself to be quite prolific during the pandemic and released two albums in a six-month timespan: “Folklore” on July 24, 2020 and “Evermore” on Dec. 11, 2020. Both albums were surprise releases with less than 24 hours between the announcement and official drop. “Folklore” won Album of the Year at the 63rd Grammy Awards and Swift undoubtedly deserved it. Swift worked with The National’s Aaron Dessner as well as Bleachers frontman and Grammy-winning producer Jack Antonoff on both albums to produce a much more folk-inspired overall sound with an indie feel that is chocked full of romanticism and nature imagery not seen since her early work. Tracks that stand out are “Invisible String” and “August” on “Folklore” and “No Body, No Crime” and “Coney Island” on “Evermore.”
Flowers for Vases / Descansos — Hayley Williams
This album was released on Feb. 5, 2021 and is an unofficial second installment to Wiliams’ 2020 album “Petals for Armor,” which came out on May 8. This album tackles a lot of themes addressed in “Petals for Armor,” but covers them in a much more mature and retrospective manner. Williams worked with producer Daniel James and deviated from her expected Paramore-esque sound in favor of a much more alternative folk rock sound. Notable songs are “My Limb,” “Over Those Hills” and “Trigger.”
A week before the album’s release, Williams sent out packages to select fans that contained body parts of a doll, candles and CDs with the single “My Limb.”
Set My Heart on Fire Immediately — Perfume Genius
This art rock album came out May 15, 2020 and it has a distinctly rhythmic feel that emphasizes the role dancing plays in music production. Perfume Genius worked with producer Blake Mills in order to create this saga of songs based on frontman Michael Hadreas’ own experiences. A couple cited influences for the album were Enya and John Townes Van Zandt. Tracks that stand apart are “On the Floor,” “Jason” and “Moonbend.”
This most recent Perfume Genius album focuses on the human body and expression of physicality through movement and how it relates to musical expression and sexuality.
All the songs mentioned can be found on a Spotify playlist here.