Welcome Back: 2020’s Returning Class

Suffice to say it’s not been a good year for best-laid plans. On the brighter side, 2020 has seen a welcome abundance of acts and artists who spent years (sometimes decades) underneath the radar and who have returned with new music that instantly reminds us why we loved them in the first place.

Some—like Tame Impala and Grimes—really weren’t gone for long but clearly had too much going on in their lives to find the necessary time to realize their big ambitions, and we’re happy they finally did. Other cases—like Paramore’s Hayley Williams and LINKIN PARK’s Mike Shinoda—involve familiar lead singers who’ve been understandably careful about how they want to launch their post-band careers. Someday, hopefully, Zack de la Rocha will feel as if he’s ready to do the same and let some of those unheard collaborations with Trent Reznor, DJ Shadow, and Questlove outta the vault—his guest spot with Run The Jewels will do fine for now.

Then there are those who are back after some truly epic-length hiatuses. There was no lack of coverage for the end of eight-year waits for new material from Bob Dylan and Fiona Apple (and Brandy and Alanis Morissette, too) or the 14-year pause for The Chicks. Yet those gaps hardly compare with the more extreme creative layovers that recently concluded, like the 29 years in between new albums by The Psychedelic Furs, the 35 in between efforts by the original lineup of X, or the 36 for Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats.

Arriving at the tail end of 2019 was one of the weirder comebacks: the first new album in 16 years by Gang Starr, constructed under controversial circumstances by DJ Premier from unreleased raps by his former partner Guru, who wasn’t around to argue over the results since he died of cancer in 2010. Similarly surprising (and awesome) is the return of Eddie Chacon. Formerly one half of Charles & Eddie—a ’90s soul-pop duo who scored a global hit with “Would I Lie To You?” before disappearing into oblivion—Chacon left the music business decades ago to become an art and fashion photographer. Full of gorgeously eerie and deeply stoned alt-R&B made with Solange and Frank Ocean collaborator John Carroll Kirby, Chacon’s very belated solo debut, Pleasure, Joy & Happiness, is the kind of album that feels very much worth the wait even if you had no idea you were waiting for it. Here’s hoping this playlist of 2020 returnees directs you to more music that gives you that feeling.


Photo by Sachyn Mital