Let’s address the elephant in the room – yes. 2020 has been a shit year. We know. We don’t need reminding. But, thankfully, the musical world seemed to miss this memo; from pop-punk, to metalcore, to alt-rock, 2020 has refused to be silenced, blessing us with some absolutely top-notch records. In the face of so many cancelled gigs and festivals, these albums have kept us strong, kept us screaming our hearts out even if it is only in the confines of our own cramped living rooms. We couldn’t be more thankful for every artist that’s kept going throughout this pandemic – you’ve given us all such a boost in such an odd time! So, without further adieu, here is Bittersweet’s top 20 albums of 2020…

20. GLUE – Boston Manor

Boston Manor’s third album GLUE has been hotly anticipated in the rock world – since bolstering their already die-hard fanbase with the incredible Welcome To The Neighbourhood, they’ve made a name for themselves as drivers of the British alt rock scene. GLUE was set to be the album that cemented them as genre pioneers, and it’s done just that. Though not as saturated with bangers as previous releases, GLUE is an ambitious, heavy, and powerful record. There’s the moody classic sound of tracks like Plasticine Dreams, reminiscent of a 2020 emo Radiohead, the glitchy punk of 1s and 0s, and of course a hearty helping of good old heaviness on highlights Liquid (ft Trophy Eyes’ John Floreani), Playing God, and explosive closer Monolith.

Highlights: 1s and 0s, Liquid, Playing God

19. Death Of An Optimist – grandson

When you release singles as fierce as Dirty and We Did It!!! you’ve got a tough bar to reach – especially if you’re grandson, purveyor of the grittiest, giddiest electro-rock on the scene. Following a slew of incredible EPs, Death of an Optimist is grandson’s debut full-length album, and it shows a dizzying breadth the likes of which an EP just doesn’t have space for. All rolled up into DOAO, there’s the addictive pounding electro, bits and pieces of the woozy acoustic vibes we caught on summer’s Text Voter series, and a handful of tracks that expertly combine the two, like the mellow Left Behind or late highlight Drop Dead. It’s strange to hear grandson slow it down and mix it up with interludes, so the record does feel less vicious than what you might expect, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable overview of everything that makes grandson wicked.

Highlights: We Did It!!!, Drop Dead, In Over My Head

18. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void – Creeper

Sex, Death, and the Infinite Void… sounds like criteria for a good emo night out. But no, it’s actually the lust-laden underworld that constitutes Creeper’s formidable sophomore album – a brand new concept, and what sounds like a brand-new band. Replacing scream vocals with saucy Americana, replacing Southampton’s streets with literal hell, replacing teeth-chattering, clamouring riffs with Bowie-esque swagger – still saturated with the darkness that makes Creeper… well, Creeper. It was a risky move to scatter in so many interludes and storytelling slow-burners, but Creeper have constructed a vivid, haunting landscape – maybe only a handful of tracks to lose your mind in a mosh-pit too, but a gloriously executed concept record for sure.

Highlights: Be My End, Annabelle, Napalm Girls

17. Who Are The Girls? – Nova Twins

Nova Twins were crowned Best U.K. Breakthrough Band at the Heavy Music Awards this year, and it’s no surprise why – with their fierce, prowling urban-punk sound, these ladies don’t play around. Debut album Who Are The Girls? embodies everything Nova Twins represent, filled-to-the-brim with raw energy and razor-sharp lyricisms. This album is a visceral ball of unapologetic attitude, every track a filthy punch to the gut. Stick on Undertaker and you’ll immediately understand why these girls are the real deal and entirely suited to the 333 Wreckords signee catalogue. Stellar stuff.

Highlights: Undertaker, Devil’s Face, Bullet

16. …And Then The Rain Stopped – Birthmarks

If you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to Birthmarks, then you’re in for a treat. …And Then The Rain Stopped is awe-inspiring – we originally labelled it the perfect soundtrack of the human condition, and there’s no better way to put it. Each track is astonishingly bittersweet, every detail fine-tuned to sonic perfection. This debut is as haunting as it is unbelievably gorgeous… and yes, this album is a DEBUT. Honestly, we’re still in shock ourselves. Now – lie down, pop on your headphones and let yourself be sucked into this remarkable album. We promise you won’t regret it.

Highlights: Wax, One Pulse, Midnight Blue

15. Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible – Enter Shikari

What’s that? A string section? Immediately followed by a jungle-synth breakdown? This must be an Enter Shikari album. April release Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible saw the Shikari boys being even more daring than ever before, crafting somewhat of a Hospital Records Philharmonic… and it’s pretty bloody fabulous. However, this album isn’t just a pretty face – in typical Shikari fashion, there’s a vein of serious political and social commentary runs throughout, frustration fizzling beneath the surface of each track. So… that’s charged social commentary, gorgeous orchestral pieces and skank-worthy breakdowns. Sound good? Yep. Thought so.

Highlights: { The Dreamer’s Hotel }, T.I.N.A, satellites * *

14. Millie Manders and the Shutup – Telling Truths, Breaking Ties

Millie Manders is, undeniably, an immense force, and with the Shutup, she’s proven it on her debut album. Telling Truths, Breaking Ties zooms in and out at breathless pace – one minute Millie is singing devastating anthems about being wronged, the next she’s coming for the government’s long list of failings, the next she’s candidly lamenting a lost relationship, the next she’s addressing mental health… we could go on! MMATSU address everything with a flawlessly executed cocktail of nu-metal, punk, ska, and emotion – Manders’ vocals are an expertly commanded instrument, sometimes soaring, sometimes spitting, always totally magnetic. Telling Truths, Breaking Ties is a powerhouse of a record (and if it’s responsible for a nu-metal revival then we’d be all for it).

Highlights: Bitter, Poor Man’s Show, Not Okay

13. Bad Nerves – Bad Nerves

Bad Nerves are the type of band to give you whiplash. Fast, furious, and fiercely replayable, their whirlwind of a debut album will have you darting for the repeat button the second its 27 minute runtime comes to an end. That 27 minutes is made up of breathless, pacey punk gems, quivering-with-anticipation verses gearing up to leap into the always-huge choruses. There’s not a moment on the record that feels like filler – there’s not even a moment that lets you catch your breath. Bad Nerves embody the spirit of punk in the purest way possible: they’re all about the music, down to every fuzzy riff and drum beat. But more than that, the record is just totally saturated with energy and fun – a delight to listen to (and we’re praying that 2021 is the year we get to catch them live).

Highlights: New Shapes, Electric 88, Terminal Boy

12. Pink Elephant – Stand Atlantic

There’s no two ways about it – Pink Elephant is an absolute masterclass in pop-punk. Aussie gang Stand Atlantic have learnt from the best, touring with the likes of State Champs, but Pink Elephant proves that they’ve got the genre wrapped around their fingers. Their sophomore record hooks you from the very first beat: Like That is lush and loud, and absolutely sets the tone (not to mention it barely has to kick in on first listen before you’re somehow singing along to every word). What makes Stand Atlantic an exemplary pop-punk band, though, is their range. Yes, Pink Elephant is one banger after another, but between the dark glamour of Blurry, the Waterparks-esque upbeatness of bops like Eviligo, and the left-field melancholy of Silk & Satin, they make it clear that Stand Atlantic run deep.

Highlights: Hate Me (Sometimes), Eviligo, Shh!

11. Ohms – Deftones

It’s been 20 years, and Deftones are yet to lose their edge. Ohms is exactly what you’d expect from the alt-metal icons, with heaving soundscapes and woozily hypnotic instrumentals. Tracks are able to be both harsh and gentle in a way only Deftones can muster, transcendentally light yet still cuttingly Nihilistic. Moments feel harrowingly sharp, almost migraine-inducing, before an equally as tranquil, peaceful realm takes its place. Ohms isn’t just an album, it’s an experience, capturing your focus entirely from start to finish. This poignant album is a true stand out of the year.

Highlights: Ohms, Genesis, Error


10. Heartwork – The Used

It would be an injustice not to pay respect to these emo icons. Heartwork truly blew us away this year, with moshpit-worthy bangers to deeply atmospheric anthems. The Used’s classic sound drenches this album, with a few fabulous features in the forms of Jason Aalon Butler, Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and Caleb Shomo. The thing that continues to define The Used, however, is their poetic identity – how could a band truly be labelled ‘emo’ without words that absolutely claw at your heart. Title track Heartwork sees Bert McCracken perform some beautiful spoken word, and, considering McCracken has a tendency to encourage moshpits to Shakespeare at live shows, this poem fits in perfectly. Heartwork is The Used at their best.

Highlights: Blow Me, Paradise Lost, 1984 (infinite jest)

9. Cannibal – Bury Tomorrow

Brutal, charged and shockingly raw, Cannibal is exactly what you want from a metalcore record. Combining whiplash-quick tempos with guttural ferocity, this is an album that demands your attention; every track is a punch to the throat, an unstoppable barrel of sound. Yet the honesty rooted within this album is what allows it to shine – Cannibal is truly about ‘eating away at yourself’, addressing the struggles that come with being human. This vulnerability drives the album, giving it a gorgeously visceral energy. Bury Tomorrow are undeniable juggernauts of the British metalcore scene – and Cannibal proves why.

Highlights: Quake, Cannibal, Gods & Machines


Short and definitely not sweet – WRONG GENERATION says all it needs to in a sharp, emotionally charged 18 minutes. Inglewood punks FEVER 333 don’t hold back on this EP, fervently proclaiming ‘YOU WANTED A FIGHT? WELL, YOU GOT ONE.’ Sparked into action by the murder of George Floyd, this EP is a call to arms, an enraged, impassioned cry for unity, to fight back against the oppressive forces in society. The infusion of punk-rock and hip hop results in an infectious, exhilarating listen – and, in a way, Jason Aalon Butler has been on this lit 3 times now (having produced Nova Twins’ album and featured on The Used’s Heartork)… so… it’s fair to say FEVER 333 are an extremely talented trio!


7. Dream Nails – Dream Nails

Never did a band make so many difficult topics sound so effervescent: on their self-titled debut, Dream Nails champion the feminine modern experience. The good is captured (the inane enjoyment of home workouts in Jillian, iced coffee in This Is The Summer, the thriving reclamation of power in DIY), the bad is acknowledged (from the pain of being ghosted in Chirpse Degree Burns to the paralysing grip of capitalist society in Corporate Realness), and the ugly and painful is present too (hate crimes in Kiss My Fist, sexual assault in Payback). The best thing that Dream Nails do, though, is to pack each sub-three minute tune with fun – this is an album about everything that sucks, and managing to feel joy anyway.

Highlights: Corporate Realness, People Are Like Cities, Kiss My Fist

6. weird! – Yungblud

The gap between Yungblud’s first album and his second have seen him catapulted into the spotlight, hailed by some as voice of a generation and by others as performative nonsense. What he succeeds at the most on weird!, then, is proving that he is neither – weird! is as personal and intimate as it is universal, and that’s where the magic comes from. In confessing to his own weird time of life, seeking solace in sex with strangers, being miserable, and being hopeful, Yungblud makes music for the true human experience. Or maybe he just has a loud voice and makes bangers that you really want to jump around and shout loudly yourself – bit of both?

Highlights: cotton candy, charity, it’s quiet in beverly hills

5. All Distortions Are Intentional – Neck Deep

Ok Neck Deep… the pop-punk scene’s been safely tucked in your pocket for years now, so where do you go on from that? A concept album, of course. Spoiler alert: they pulled it off so well that All Distortions Are Intentional may well be Neck Deep’s best record to date. They’ve proved that concept records don’t all need to be interludes and poetry, they can just be utter tunes that are cathartic, uplifting, and melancholy in the exact right order to weave a beautiful story. The tale of Sonderland is gorgeous, but every track stands up in its own right too – another challenge to the concept record. Neck Deep’s command of throw-yourself-in riffs and scream along choruses and hooks is glowing as bright as ever, but on ADAI, it’s mixed up with a bucketload of ambition, and it’s paid off.

Highlights: Telling Stories, When You Know You Know, What Took You So Long

4. Wake Up, Sunshine – All Time Low

Now THIS is a burst of sunshine! In typical All Time Low fashion, Wake Up, Sunshine is filled to the brim with pop-punk-y goodness. This is an album guaranteed to have you dancing around your room like you’re still a teenager, every track stupidly infectious. It’s impossible not to sing-along to this album – as soon as Alex Gaskarth’s vocals open the album, calling out ‘I’M A LIAR, I’M A CYNIC!’, you’re in it for the long-haul. All Time Low were also the last band the Bittersweet Team had the pleasure of catching live so… this album in particular really captures that sparkle of hope pre-pandemic. Ah, 2020. You dog.

Highlights: Sleeping In, Getaway Green, Clumsy

3. Razzmatazz – I Don’t Know How But They Found Me

Razzmatazz is an album that entirely lives up to its name; Ryan Seaman and Dallon Weekes truly worked their magic on this record, crafting a deeply enchanting discotheque-indie-rock extravaganza that only matures with each listen. Imagine The Brobecks, meld it with the charm of 80s, sprinkle in a few jazz hands, and you get Razzmatazz. Layered to perfection, iDKHow boast classy song structures that entirely suck you in. And, of course, Mr Weekes’ vocals are as gorgeous as ever. Now – treat yourself to some of that good old-fashioned Razzmatazz.

Highlights: Razzmatazz, Clusterhug, Nobody Likes The Opening Band

2. Tickets To My Downfall – Machine Gun Kelly

Would it be going too far to say MGK saved the pop-punk scene? … probably, yes. But it is a fair statement to say that he’s bringing a very fresh approach, not to mention a whole swathe of fans who would never have delved into the genre before, and that he’s consistently making bona fide bangers. Credit where credit’s due: Travis Barker of Blink-182 gave more than a helping hand, but MGK’s pop-punk clout is shining bright on Tickets To My Downfall. He’s almost painfully emotionally vulnerable, even going so far to include a recording of his late father on the devastating Lonely, and a recording of a conversation with girlfriend Megan Fox on Banyan Tree, where the two candidly discuss addiction. Subject matter aside, MGK’s stompingly dark vocals might not be the classic pop-punk whine, but he can carry a riff and a half – lead single bloody valentine set the pace, and he continues to be a total powerhouse on tracks like kiss kiss, forget me too, concert for aliens… we could go on. Whatever you think of MGK, you can’t deny that what he’s doing is exciting – and more importantly for pop-punk, it’s new.

Highlights: body bag, bloody valentine, lonely


Wow. Just, wow. This EP took us all by surprise, honestly. It was starting to look like Bring Me had left behind their harsher side – but GOD were we deceived. POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR is rough, fierce and unapologetically brash; as soon as Dear Diary, crashes through your speakers, you’re reminded of just why Bring Me The Horizon are metalcore legends. POST HUMAN kicks and screams, deliciously untameable; from Dear Diary’s thrash metal, to the nu-metal-infused Teardrops, to Kingslayer’s magnificent burst of kawaii metal, POST HUMAN is a thriving beast that refuses to stick to one set sound. This record sees amo’s experimental nature shaking hands with classic Bring Me’s hunger for hard rock – and it’s pretty bloody fantastic, if you ask us.

Highlights: Dear Diary,, OBEY, Kingslayer


2020 may have been shit, but at least the music was killer! Here’s hoping that 2021 has even more musical gems!