For normal folk, lockdown provided the opportunity to step foot in the kitchen, learn the craft of sourdough and devour copious amounts of banana bread, but for musicians, it provided freedom to get creative and write, record and produce a killer album in a matter of weeks.
From Taylor Swift’s mesmerising indie folk album to Charli XCX’s Mercury nominated lofi futuristic-pop hit, we’ve rounded up our favourite seven albums to be born out of the pandemic. Pop on your headphones, add these to your queue and lose yourself in the magic of pandemic-fuelled music.
Never one to shy away from releasing absolute belters, Taylor Swift enlisted the help of The National’s Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner, and singer-songwriter and producer Jack Antonoff to create an album that’s truly special, while straying away from her usual pop-centric melodies.
Written, recorded and produced during lockdown, Folklore is a stripped back version of the Swift fans have grown up with. While she usually writes catchy heartbreak songs, it’s in Folklore that we see a more vulnerable side to her, slotted alongside moody guitars and mulled orchestration that Bryce Dessner is known for.
Arguably the world’s most recognisable artist, Swift also joins forces with indie artist Bon Iver on track four “Exile” for a woeful song portraying two ex-lovers catching a glimpse of each other’s changed lives.
British pop icon Charli XCX is continually pushing the boundaries of what the future of pop music will sound like, but her new album entitled how i’m feeling now goes one step further. How i’m feeling now makes you reevaluate everything you thought you knew about pop music. Charli has not only changed how pop can sound, but also how it can be made: at home.
It’s a collaborative experience. During the middle of writing, recording and producing the album, Charli reached out to her fans asking for advice, from Zoom calls to Q&As to find out what they wanted to hear.
The result? It’s truly still Charli XCX’s renowned sound but less refined and lofi, proving that anything is possible when you’ve got a microphone and recorder.
From her M.A.C. Cosmetics make-up line to her realty tv series, Teyana & Iman, Teyana Taylor has been hot on everyone’s lips for a while now, so popularity of her lockdown release, The Album, comes as little surprise.
Written primarily during quarantine, Taylor released an ambitious 23-tracked album on Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the emancipation of those enslaved in the United State, all while pregnant with her second daughter.
The lengthy 77 minute album is broken up into five sector, each exploring a new theme, from love to sexual desire, and it’s just as bold as you’d expect. Pop this on and lose yourself in her fierce refrains and R&B sound.
Another band to try their hand at creating an album during quarantine was rock band, White Denim.
Sticking to a strict time frame, the band gave themselves a 30-day deadline. This included writing, recording, producing and mastering the whole thing. Created at a distance, the album tackles longing and unity, especially prevalent during this confusing time.
Even if you don’t like their sound, you’ll be able to appreciate their playful album cover.
Tackling a lengthy album in a week deserves praise. East Londoner Barney Artist wrote, recorded and mixed his latest album, Lofi Lockdown: The Re-Issue single handedly in a week.
Barney Artist leant his platform to his audience, with several quotes and refrains directly taken from their lockdown experiences, and slotted them alongside his signature lofi hip-hop sounds.
We’re a sucker for a stripped back affair and The Coral’s Lockdown Sessions didn’t disappoint.
English rock heroes, The Coral spent their lockdown recording acoustic versions of some of their most adored songs, plus cover classics including the classic ‘Married with Children’ by Oasis.
They also sneakily slotted in three original unreleased tracks for fans to lose themselves in. The 16-part album is well worth the listen to hear The Coral in a more rustic, downbeat style.
If any of the albums above portray anything, it’s that lockdown was a chance for artists to reconnect and return to their roots, and that’s exactly what The Mountain Goats achieved with their latest album, Songs for Pierre Chuvin.
When the American folk band started out, they’d release their work primarily on cassette tapes so of course, revisiting their yonder days, singer-songwriter John Darnielle decided to whip out his old Panasonic RX-FT500 tape deck to record ten new songs inspired by Pierre Chuvin’s 1900 novel, A Chronicle of the Last Pagans.
Released using the direct-to-boombox method, all of the proceeds of this new album go towards Darnielle’s bands and crew who have lost out on work and income due to tours being cancelled.