The Soundboard’s Worst Albums Of 2020

Luke Nuttall (Editor / Writer)

Theory Of A Deadman
Say Nothing

Sure, it’s an easy target, but watching Theory Of A Deadman continuously immolate literally every scrap of good will they’ve ever picked up will never not be baffling, mostly because it’s hard to even deduce who would want an album like Say Nothing. This is a bored, glazed-over pop-rock album that’s quickly been memory-holed since it came out in January, a wise move when Theory Of A Deadman continue to go in that direction with diminishing returns even by their low standards. This feels like it was farted out in an afternoon, with a pretension towards depth that’s never actually even close to deep, a production job that’s just abysmal, and the lazy meatheadedness unfortunately being the only constant factor left intact. It’s only this low because it’s hard to imagine even a single person on the planet actually cares about it enough to remember it.

Kodaline
One Day At A Time

It takes a lot more than a boring album to wind up on lists like these. That’s a general rule of thumb that’s typically adhered to, but Kodaline are a special exception to that rule, as One Day At A Time is boring in the most insipid, brain-numbing way imaginable. Not a single note of this album is worth remembering, nor do Kodaline do a single thing to even make that a possibility, as backwash indie-pop slips by with such tedious and monotonous regularity. On top of that, there’s also the fact that they cling to an equally lifeless set of lyrics, and deliver them in with the meek, mealy-mouthed conviction of a sodden piece of paper. And even after all of that, they had the gall to release a deluxe edition later on in the year, under some vain pretense that anyone would want even more of this dreck.

British Lion
The Burning

The more thought that’s given to this album, the more its spot on a worst of the year list seems justified. The fact that Steve Harris – he of Iron Maiden fame and a metal legend through and through – lends his services to British Lion should make for an easy win, but the fact that The Burning is such a monumental failure is just embarrassing for everyone involved. For Harris, he has to live with the fact that his name is attached to a sorry excuse for a metal band without a single idea in their collective heads who waste over an hour’s worth of time to show it; for the rest of the no-marks in this thing, they’re in the knowledge that, even with the talent of a true legend at their disposal, they’ve made one of the most underdeveloped, tragically misguided metal albums in recent memory. This is phoning it in to a science, the sort of band who, under normal circumstances, would barely make it out of their local pub, let alone onto an actual touring circuit. A complete non-starter in every way that would’ve been better off never having been conceived.

Trapt
Shadow Work

Yes, believe it or not, the newest Trapt album is an absolute turd. For full clarity, part of the reason it’s so bad has to be tied to Chris Taylor Brown’s incessant online rampage throughout the year that might be funny if it wasn’t so bafflingly delusional, but even on its own, Shadow Work is an impressively bad attempt at… something. It’s hard to pinpoint what that is, given that Trapt clearly have no desire to further themselves or experiment; if they did, they’d actually try to venture beyond puddle-deep butt-rock slogs that think far more highly of themselves than they rightly should. It really is just a worthless waste of time that would’ve justly been ignored had Trapt not actively gamed the system to ensure that it couldn’t be, and set themselves up for the mother of all falls with how amazing they claimed this would be, in the vein of a train crash in slow motion that just keeps playing over and over again. It’s been fun to poke the bear this year and watch Trapt scramble to defend their egos that have less integrity than a Fabergé egg, but let’s all agree to let them fall into the abject obscurity in 2021 that they rightfully deserve.

Danzig
Sings Elvis

It should be no surprise that this is here. Even after Trapt seemed to all but seal their top spot with literally every move they made this year, it still wasn’t enough to hold back the tyranny of Danzig, who claim their crown by releasing a covers album that wasn’t even finished. At least, that’s how this felt, with tiny, tinny shreds of instrumentation that sounded horrendously out of tune – when it could even be heard at all – and Glenn Danzig mumbling through a handful of Elvis songs with an equal amount of energy to what Elvis himself would probably give today, and he’s been dead for 43 years! It’s hard to imagine even a single iota of care went into this; there’s not one presence or person on this album who doesn’t sound like were phoning it in royally, and the final product ends up being what might be one of the worst albums released this millennium. There have been plenty of bad albums that many would argue have no saving graces, but none of those have exhibited as little care for what they’re delivering as Danzig’s Sings Elvis. In every way, shape and form, this is unacceptable, and the fact that Glenn actually expected people to pay real money for this hack-job karaoke session is faintly sickening.


Georgia Jackson (Deputy Editor / Writer)

Green Day
Father Of All…

The quality of their records might have been questionable for a while, but Revolution Radio marked the start of an oblivious era for Green Day, one where they were convinced they were the embodiment of ‘real’ rock music by becoming the most by-the-numbers dadrock version of themselves. This year’s Father Of All… continued that on with its groundbreaking boasts of having no features, Swedish songwriters or trap beats anywhere in the record’s 26 minute runtime. What it is though is a faceless amalgamation of all kinds of rock trends, hardly any of them remotely current ones. Some of the songs themselves provide very short-lived sugar rushes when it comes to melody, but a lot of Father Of All… sounds stagnant, like people trying to conserve something that has evolved much faster. This record just solidifies that Green Day trying to forge themselves as the lone torch-bearers of rock music in 2020 is one of the most cringeworthy things about rock today.

Machine Gun Kelly
Tickets To My Downfall

Who saw Machine Gun Kelly becoming pop punk’s breakout star in 2020? Well, Travis Barker, apparently. The two coming together to make an MGK-sings-blink-182 record is one of the most ill-fitting projects to come out of this year, the rapper’s delivery nothing but a bad rendition of The Pop Punk Singer as a stereotype with all the fun sucked out completely. This is supposed to be a record of upbeat, Enema Of The State-esque anthems, but Machine Gun Kelly sounds completely disinterested the whole time, to the point of the project feeling completely inauthentic. If this were an obvious passion project, with MGK deciding to jump into a genre he’s loved for years with a genuine love for what he’s doing audibly fizzing out of everything it might be a different story. That isn’t the case, and while musically most things work (even the songs that mix in trap beats have potential), it’s all dead in the water because of the vocal delivery and an all in all unlikeable record because of it.

New Hope Club
New Hope Club

We understand that we, or probably very many of our readers, are very much not in the target market for wannabe pop-boyband-revivalists New Hope Club. That said, it’s very hard to listen to the three-piece’s squeaky-clean debut record and not be nearly knocked out by the stench of label suits sweating from rubbing their hands together. Proteges of The Vamps, New Hope Club are packaged to capitalise off the long-dwindling boyband boom. Instead of coming off as shiny and new though (as shiny and new as you can be trying to follow a trend from seven years ago), they just feel like the dregs of both the indiscernible music industry upstart hordes and the cash-grabbing ideas of those in charge. If the songs were any good, there might be some room for forgiveness, but it’s just a collection of aimless radio fodder that isn’t actually good enough to get on the radio. There are no doubt plenty of other tonedeaf records shamelessly piggybacking off long-dead trends in every genre, but this one in particular stirs up new levels of cynicism. A debut record is a perfect opportunity for an artist to showcase who they really want to be, but New Hope Club’s has no real indicator of who they are now.

Justin Bieber
Changes

Ten years ago, hating Justin Bieber was a widely-held opinion steeped in hating the pop machine and fangirls. It wasn’t really a warranted pile-on, much less so than the form the singer has taken now. The wholly uninteresting tamed bad boy persona February’s Changes was a vehicle for made it acceptable to make such declarations against the star again, and for much weightier reasons than having a squeaky pre-teen voice. Although he refers to his wife as an “asset” and there’s no palable affection coming from anything he says on this record, Bieber is happily married and wants her to know it. It does feel like walking into the next room and just telling her would be a less complex way to do this instead of releasing an album that millions of people will sadly hear. Every song here seems to follow the exact same framework, tempo, sound palette and cringe lyrics delivered with absolutely no charisma or emotion. There’s only so much “do me like you miss me even though you’ve been with me” and “I want you here now but don’t speed” over frankly embarrassing Nokia ringtone instrumentals (that have no place in the work of someone even half as famous as Bieber) that one person can take, and that’s not even mentioning the inexplicably Grammy-nominated Yummy, which can only be described as a crime against love songs. We don’t give relationship advice on The Soundboard, but if a record as cold and half-arsed as Changes is the best your husband can do as a declaration of love, divorce lawyers might be a rational option.

Morrissey
I Am Not A Dog On A Chain

Yes, this is low-hanging fruit. Yes, the camps who’ve chosen morals over Morrissey and those who can ignore his views have been established for years, crossover between the two rare and against all advice. But when an album as posturing as I Am Not A Dog On A Chain is released, an audible synopsis of the singer’s uninformed views (which are solely responsible for any column inches he gets these days), it feels wrong to not include it on a list like this one. A record as horribly smug as the man who sings on it, I Am Not… is thrilled to loll about in its own blind stupidity, regurgitating Daily Mail cliches about the poor and millenials and reminding us all that the news is fake and right-wingers are unjustly vilified. The lifeless instrumentals can’t even provide a tiny distraction – these songs are so in your face it’s impossible to zone out, even those who’ve clung onto Morrissey fandom because of his Smiths glory days. Maybe we’re playing into Morrissey’s left-pwning hands with this one, but this record rubs us up the wrong way every way it can

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