10 Most Anticipated Indie Rock Albums of 2020

The Strokes, The 1975, and HAIM all aim to prove that indie rock is alive and thriving

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A New York Times study found that the songs we listen to during our formative years set our music taste as adults. At first, I thought this was completely untrue. I listen to new music; I’m a gat damn music journalist, thank you very much. However, a quick glance at my vinyl collection juxtaposed against my Spotify playlists brought me to the realization that my favorite current bands through squinted eyes could pass for my very first favorite bands. So, if you’re like me and cut your teeth watching The Strokes from your twin bed on your combination TV VHS player, immediately getting up to download their entire album illegally from Limewire using dial-up Internet (my apologies), then a new decade means a fresh evolution of more of the same, and you bet your worn-in band tee that’s something us indie rock lovers should be thrilled about.

(See: The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2020)

It’s important to note that denotations such as indie rock and alternative rock and pop-rock, etc. have been used interchangeably in the past decade. No longer is the genre defined by independence. As long as your production veers post-punk, post-punk-punk, guitar-rock-pop et al, your skinny jeans might fit the bill. And what does that bill look like in the year of our lord 2020? Tame Impala’s ‘70s psych meets indie-electro via their new album, The Slow Rush,  Phoebe Bridgers fulfilling her promise of electronic elements, some analog stuff, and drum machines for a much anticipated new offering, The 1975’s presentation of political pop-rock via their latest iteration, Notes on a Conditional Form, and a much-awaited return from the band behind the soundtrack of my aforementioned illegal CD burning years (again, I’m sorry), The Strokes.

–Erica Campbell
Music Editor

Click ahead to see our 10 Most Anticipated Indie Rock Albums of 2020…


Beach Bunny – Honeymoon

Beach Bunny Honeymoon album artwork cover debut

Release Date: February 14th

Why We’re Excited: On the backs of four self-released EPs, Beach Bunny built up a ton of buzz out in Chicago over the last half-decade. After popping up on festival bills all over the place, they eventually landed a deal with Mom+Pop. Youthfully earnest and irresistibly catchy, the quartet’s indie pop-rock has the unfussy joy of a band making music because it’s just fun and cathartic to do so. Lead single “Dream Boy” was one of our favorite tracks of 2019, so of course we’re looking forward to the full effort. –Ben Kaye

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Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Tame Impala - The Slow Rush

Release Date: February 14th

Why We’re Excited: Aussie psych-rockers Tame Impala are finally back after a five-year break. Their forthcoming album, The Slow Rush, is the “rush” we didn’t realize we’ve been craving until now. Riding on the high of recent singles “It Might Be Time”, “Borderline”,  “Posthumous Forgiveness”, and, most recently, “Lost in Yesterday”, it’s apparent this album will be more experimental than ever — in an “Oooh, this is as refreshing as a newly discovered cocktail on a summer day” kind of way. Nevertheless, we’re convinced The Slow Rush will also highlight that true Tame Impala steez that’s a fine balance between mellow and effervescent. –Gabrielle Pharms

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The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form

The 1975 - Notes on a Conditional Form

Release Date: February 21st April 24th

Why We’re Excited: As is the tradition of the English pop-rock band, their soon to be released fourth studio album, Notes on a Conditional Form, opens with an eponymous title track, this time a four-minute speech from 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, sharing: “Now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.” And if that doesn’t give you a sense of where the album is headed, may we also offer the band’s single “People” that launches off with frontman Matt Healy screaming, “Wake up, wake up, wake up,” and also reminding us to stop fucking with the kids, because the world could use a little civil disobedience purposely punctuated with guitar riffs right now. –Erica Campbell

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Fiona Apple – TBA

fiona apple cover beach boys in my room song release new soundtrack jakob dylan

Fiona Apple, photo courtesy of artist

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Fiona Apple doesn’t really care if you’ve been waiting eight years for a follow-up to one of the 2010’s best records, The Idler Wheel… The notoriously unhurried and particular singer-songwriter will work in the ways she works, in the time it takes her to do so. We will simply wait here patiently, appreciating the occasional one-off contribution to a soundtrack or Jeff Goldblum jazz album, chuckling at the playful social media videos. And when she deems the album she says is nearly finished ready for release, we will absorb it hungrily and gratefully. –Ben Kaye


Fleet Foxes – Shore

Fleet Foxes First Collection 2006 2009 Box Set Ben Kaye boston Calling

Fleet Foxes, photo by Ben Kaye

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: When asked about new music in a recent Instagram post, Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold described his upcoming work (tentatively teased as a 15-track album called Shore) as “15 Big Ones”, a reference to the 1976 Beach Boys record that found the band embracing their nostalgic sound after a period of diminishing experimentation. Does that mean we’re about to get “White Winter Hymnal” 2.0, or is Pecknold prepping another sojourn through the fractalizing landscapes of his inner world a la 2017’s Crack-Up? Either way, we’re keen to find out. –Tyler Clark

Click ahead to see the other indie rock albums we’re anticipating most this year…


HAIM – Hallelujah

HAIM fire manager over gender pay gap festival

HAIM, photo by Kimberley Ross

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: HAIM evokes the power of God in performances. Battling depression, diabetes, and death, the sisters channel pain into pleasure, the proof found in Something to Tell You (2017) and the certified gold Days Are Gone (2013). They’ve teased the album with title track “Hallelujah”: electric, raw, and energetic. A cry from the heavens when the three touched down on Earth. –Meggie Gates

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Phoebe Bridgers – TBA

Phoebe Bridgers Newport Folk Festival The Cure Friday I'm in Love Spotify Singles Ben Kaye

Phoebe Bridgers, photo by Ben Kaye

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: In the almost three years since releasing her masterful debut album, Stranger in the Alps, Phoebe Bridgers has been a well of wistful sonic woe. In 2018, she joined forces with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus to fill our cups with boygenius. In 2019, they ran over with one of the best albums of the year, her Conor Oberst collaboration, Better Oblivion Community Center. In 2020, fans look to Bridgers to continue her steady drip of nearly perfect indie rock to drown out their depressive episodes, this fan included. –Irene Monokandilos


The Strokes – TBA

The Strokes at Lollapalooza 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

The Strokes at Lollapalooza 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: The most recent music from The Strokes came by way of their 2016 EP, Future Present Past, and 2013 studio album Comedown Machine. But, according to frontman Julian Casablancas’ onstage announcement of their forthcoming 2020 LP, neither of those counts, because “The 2010s, whatever the fuck they’re called, we took ‘em off. And now we’ve been unfrozen and we’re back.” Lucky for us, it appears a bit of dethawing has done the New York City post-punk purveyors some good, or at least it sounds that way based on fan reaction to the first listens of new tracks “Ode to the Mets” and “The Adults Are Talking”, both of which sound like a return to the band’s earliest sonics somehow dipped into a new decade. –Erica Campbell

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The War on Drugs – TBA

The War on Drugs, photo by Kimberley Ross

The War on Drugs, photo by Kimberley Ross

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Nothing is officially announced yet, but the idea of hearing new, sprawling guitar epics from The War on Drugs will haunt us until release date. With 2014’s Lost in the Dream and 2017’s A Deeper Understanding, Adam Granduciel and co. became one of rock’s most important new groups. Their immersive soundscapes and Granduciel’s wispy voice feel timeless as they at once evoke echoes of rock’s past and foretell its future. –Christopher Thiessen


The xx – TBA

the xx new music recording 2020 update

The xx, photo via Instagram

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: The xx inspired a decade of minimalism with now-classic records like 2009’s self-titled LP and 2012’s Coexist. With their third full-length, 2017’s I See You, however, the three UK indie artists welcomed some of the brightest, most open and vivid sounds into their palette — a decision doubtlessly inspired by resident producer Jamie xx’s own dive into clubby technicolor bliss. For a band that’s ultra conscious of space in music, and the many evolving ways to occupy it, their new album will answer a most pivotal question: Where will The xx go next? –Lake Schatz

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