T-Rex's Top 20 Albums of 2020 // 3-2

Our countdown begins to draw a conclusion, here are the albums that reached the top spots.

#3 – Sunlight – Spacey Jane

The anticipation for the Fremantle four-piece’s debut album has been charting at an exponential rate. Since 2017, the garage rockers, between some of the most chaotic domestic tour schedules seen, have released multiple EPs, each one blending a variety of genres and challenging the notions of what it means to be Australian Garage Rock.

Sunlight is no exception to this formula, as it takes the listener through vocalist Caleb Harper’s mind as he experiences the highs and lows associated with your early 20s. The bright, rhythmic guitar blended with Caleb’s sugary vocals allow the listener to be transported upon a coastal drive with the windows down, having a little groove in their chair. A look under the hood will reveal that the album is more than that, it’s a journal of love, loss, breakups and breakdowns. The music will require the use of the repeat button, but make sure you have a tissue box on standby.

The album opens with four consecutive prior releases; ‘Good for You’, ‘Head Cold’, ‘Good Grief’ and ‘Skin’, ensuring the listener is drawn in through the festival like singalongs that have curated the band’s cult-like following. The unreleased tracks begin at #5, with my personal favourite ‘Wasted on Me’. The balance between the grunge-like layered production in conjunction with the delicate and vulnerable lyrics allow for a deep reflection on the difficulties of accepting one's mistakes within a problematic relationship whilst acknowledging the challenge of moving past the regret when looking back. The line “You must feel like you wasted your life on me” screams drunk text to your ex, but hold on, listen to the album in full before you do anything crazy. Did I mention, how good are your early 20s?

Those of us at T-Rex were fortunate to receive the album a few weeks early, and, upon first listen, chief Max declared that ‘Booster Seat’ was a song “that was going to do things”. Boy did he underestimate that one. The power ballad discussing the complexities surrounding mental health and issues with trust as the narrator learns of untruths told to him by the person consoling him has felt as though it nailed 2020 – everyone just wants to be told it's going to be alright. Such is the reception to the song, polling incredibly high in Triple J’s annual Hottest 100, a thoroughly deserving effort for the band.

The album slowly builds up into the closing and titular track. ‘Sunlight’ is simplistic yet clean, a perfect end to a good thing. Accompanied by a melancholic tone, we are witnessing the beginning of a new relationship, one which is filled with promise after the acknowledgement of problems past. Hopefully, this sunlight shines brighter.

Thomas Webster

#2 – Dreamland – Glass Animals

Six years since their critically acclaimed debut album Zaba, Glass Animals are back with their third LP, Dreamland, which represents a state of being frontman Dave Bayley often found himself in as a child. Entirely conceived, written and produced by Bayley at a time of great uncertainty and confusion, the album reflects how he was processing his thoughts. Bayley has stated he spent a lot of time looking introspectively at old memories and experiences due to his inability of being able to make new ones, given the world’s circumstances.

Eponymous opener ‘Dreamland’ succinctly provides a table of contents for the album as a whole. Emotional and fittingly whimsical, the track slowly crescendos and aptly prefaces the album’s overall tone, both lyrically and musically.

‘Hot Sugar’ is perhaps the most readily relatable track off the album. It croons daintily about the paradox of what it means to be 'cool', and how accidentally falling in love with someone’s fake, projected persona in terms of how they appear, rather than their true personality, can quickly lead to mixed-up feelings and, more often than not, unrequited love.

Possibly my favourite aspect of the album is that the 'radio' hit tracks still possess depth. The transfixing and high-octane ‘Heat Waves’ has summer smash hit written all over it, however, an analysis of the underlying messages allows for an exploration of musings regarding loneliness juxtaposed to the embracing of vulnerability through human connection. ‘Your Love (Déjà Vu)’ counters with a discussion of the unpreventable circularity associated with leaving a toxic relationship. Dreamland is almost the inception of Glass Animals albums, inside each track is another, often darker, always deeper, offering. Despite the emotional messaging, the songs will never fail to hype up even the most apathetic of listeners.

Bayley’s love for hip-hop appears on ‘Space Ghost Coast To Coast’, a nostalgia riddled ode referencing a hard-to-witness transformation of his former best friend, and in the absurdly exhilarating thrill ride that is ‘Tokyo Drifting’.

Simply put, Dreamland is Glass Animals’ masterpiece, an extremely well-rounded album that conceitedly tackles astute, relatable themes of lost innocence, vulnerability and heartbreak, yet never feels overbearingly serious. ‘Helium,’ Dreamland’s bookend, encompasses these themes skilfully, championing acceptance and self-forgiveness amidst hurt, challenging the listener to do what they can with their pain.

In a year that the world got flipped on its head, Glass Animals’ Dreamland managed to make it all make sense.

Thomas Webster