While the rest of the world has been in a pretty dismal all-around state, it’s been a year of dreams coming true on a regular basis for long-suffering music fans when it comes to much-anticipated projects from their schedule-adverse favorites.
This week, of course, brings with it the release of Fiona Apple‘s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, the legendary singer-songwriter’s first album in eight years, which is already well on its way to being the year’s most acclaimed release. That comes just a week after alt-rock heroes The Strokes dropped their first set since 2013, The New Abnormal. And earlier in 2020, fans were treated to first LPs in a half-decade from pop stars Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber (not to mention auteur-ish genre-masher Grimes), and even the first-ever official full-length from longtime cult hip-hop figure Jay Electronica.
However, even with these old friends returning, there’s still plenty we haven’t heard from in a while. Here’s the 10 we’re most hoping to get back in touch with, sooner rather than later.
The Wrens (last album: The Meadowlands, 2003)
New Jersey stalwarts The Wrens’ follow-up to their critically adored 2003 LP The Meadowlands has basically become the indie-rock equivalent to the lost city of Atlantis: die hard fans have tried to uncover it for years, in hopes that it actually exists. The band has said that the album is thiiiiiis close to finished on their official Twitter account for years, and recently described it as “the world’s most-overworked record”; as of now, a fall 2020 date seems to be in place, so cross your fingers and toes.
Erykah Badu (last album: New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), 2010)
Technically, New Amerykah wasn’t Ms. Badu’s last full release; that’d be the “Hotline Bling”-inspired 2015 mixtape But You Caint Use My Phone. Even that set was a half-decade ago at this point, though, and in the meantime Badu’s artistry has remained as vital as ever — as most recently demonstrated in her interactive quarantine concert series, “Apocalypse Two: The Rooms.” She’s one of the few artists singular and respected enough to elicit a similar amount of critical breathlessness as Fetch the Bolt Cutters with a potential new set.
Liz Phair (last album: Funstyle, 2010)
Two milestone anniversaries (20th and 25th) have passed for singer-songwriter Liz Phair’s classic debut album Exile in Guyville since the last official new album she released — and in the meantime, a reported collaboration with Ryan Adams as producer fizzled for obvious reasons. Phair’s first two decades of recordings seem more ahead of their time with every passing year, so let’s hope the successful return of her fellow misunderstood ’90s alt-rock survivor this week inspires her to get her music back on the shelves soon.
Gotye (last album: Making Mirrors, 2011)
Before his offbeat Kimbra duet “Somebody That I Used to Know” became an out-of-nowhere No. 1 smash on the Hot 100 chart and earned Gotye the Grammy for record of the year, Wally de Backer had been a fairly prolific Australian singer-songwriter with a more indie-leaning audience. While de Backer has contributed to a handful of musical projects in recent years, popping up as a singer on Martin Johnson’s project The Night Game and on producer Bibio’s 2016 album A Mineral Love, Gotye’s Making Mirrors is approaching its 10th birthday, and no follow-up to the 2011 album appears imminent.
Daft Punk (last album: Random Access Memories, 2013)
The electrobots of Daft Punk are at that point in their public lives that every enigmatic artist yearns to get to: where nobody even seems to be calling for you to follow-up your last blockbuster album, since it seems so unlikely that you ever actually will. Still, Guy-Manuel and Thomas have hardly been invisible in the pop scene since then, even co-helming a couple smashes for The Weeknd on his Starboy set in late 2016. They’ll certainly be rapturously received whenever they do return, even if there’s no Coachella for a while to trumpet their comeback.
Sky Ferreira (last album: Night Time, My Time, 2013)
Ferreira released Night Time, My Time — one of the boldest pop albums of the 2010s — back in the fall of 2013, and started teasing a follow-up titled Masochism as far back as early 2015. Indie-pop fans are still waiting, however, as Ferreira has posted infrequent updates on social media about the hold-up (“I have new music. It’s coming out. I’m not at liberty to say when (YET). Lol. OKAY?****,” she wrote in November). Fortunately fans did get a taste of her new focus last year when Ferreira released the gloriously moody track “Downhill Lullaby.”
Disclosure (last album: Caracal, 2015)
It’s been five years since the better-than-you-remember Caracal tamped down the surging momentum of Disclosure’s early-’10s run — and in the meantime, the U.K. duo have been on something of a quiet hot streak. Not only have they produced a couple winners in collaboration with American pop star Khalid — including the No. 3-peaking Hot 100 hit “Talk,” still Khalid’s biggest as a solo artist — but they’ve been on a roll with their own one-offs this year, including the blistering “Ecstasy” and “Tondo.” They may never be as hip as they were on 2013 debut Settle again, but they’ve still got jams to spare, and we could use 10-12 of ’em at once.
Adele (last album: 25, 2015)
The last time Adele released an album, 2015’s 25, that full-length won album of the year at the Grammy Awards; the one before that, 2011’s 21, did as well, and both LPs were commercial behemoths. Yet we are approaching the half-decade mark since the British superstar’s last statement, and while the follow-up to 25 was rumored for last year, it never materialized. The latest rumor has Adele returning in September 2020 — fingers crossed that there’s some truth to that one.
One Direction (last album: Made in the A.M., 2015)
Speaking of breathlessness: There certainly will be no shortage of that from pop fans around the world if the much-speculated-over signs of a potential One Direction reunion were to give way to news of the group’s incoming LP6. Needless to say, the world could use you these days, lads.
Rihanna (last album: Anti, 2016)
The longest gap between Rihanna albums continues on. Although it’s only been a bit over four years since 2016’s Anti — not the longest wait, relatively speaking — for an artist who released a new full-length every calendar year earlier in her career, that wait feels interminable. Although Rih has stayed busy with her Fenty line and copious charity initiatives in the meantime, a long-teased project influenced by her Caribbean roots still lacks a release date.