NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of February We kept coming back to Pop Smoke's Meet the Woo 2, Soccer Mommy's deceptively sunny '90s pop and Makaya McCraven's creative reimagining of Gil Scott-Heron's poetry.
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NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of February

Pop Smoke's Meet the Woo 2, released less than two weeks before his death, is one of the best albums of the month. Joseph Okpako/WireImage/Getty Images hide caption

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Joseph Okpako/WireImage/Getty Images

Pop Smoke's Meet the Woo 2, released less than two weeks before his death, is one of the best albums of the month.

Joseph Okpako/WireImage/Getty Images

An album released just before an artist's death — especially an artist with such promise — can color its reception, but we kept coming back to Pop Smoke's Meet the Woo 2 regardless. We also count new music from Soccer Mommy, rapper Royce da 5'9" and Nashville up-and-comer Katie Pruitt among the best of the month.

Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 10 albums of February 2020. Be sure to check out our top 20 songs from the month, too.

NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of February

  • Angelica Garcia, 'Cha Cha Palace'

    Angelica Garcia, 'Cha Cha Palace'

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    Angelica Garcia's Cha Cha Palace is a real place for anyone who grew up Latinx in the U.S. This album bubbles and glows with the iconography of Garcia's Chicana and Mexican-Salvadoran identity and washes of synth and rolling guitars, distilling love of self and community like an agua de rosa. — Stefanie Fernández

  • Gil Scott-Heron, 'We're New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven'

    Gil Scott-Heron, 'We're New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron's final studio album, released ten years ago, gets modernized by drummer, producer and innovative beat scientist Makaya McCraven. Heron's expression of black creativity, empowerment and dissent continue anew. — Suraya Mohamed

  • Katie Pruitt, 'Expectations'

    Katie Pruitt, 'Expectations'

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    Katie Pruitt's songs possess a real sense of patience: They don't barrel toward a payoff so much as unfurl softly. But Expectations never lets go of its sense of purpose, as the Georgia-bred singer crafts richly textured songs about coming out as gay, living for herself, shedding toxicity and seeking help. — Stephen Thompson

  • Michael Grigoni & Stephen Vitiello, 'Slow Machines'

    Michael Grigoni & Stephen Vitiello, 'Slow Machines'

    : SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Initially a fixture in country for its gee-whiz quality, the pedal steel guitar's potential — particularly for creating bottomless, rhizomatic textures — has been steadily revealed over the decades. Now, another layer: Pedal steel player Michael Grigoni and electronics artist Stephen Vitiello's new album, Slow Machines, is like floating in a salt lake. — Andrew Flanagan

  • Moses Boyd, 'Dark Matter'

    Moses Boyd, 'Dark Matter'

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    The latest salvo from London's insurgent jazz scene is this ingenious meld of Afrobeat, post-bop, grime and 2-step garage — from a drummer-programmer who favors airtight precision even as he valorizes his Afro-Caribbean root system. Featured guests, like Nigerian singer and spoken-word artist Obongjayar, deepen the picture without distraction. — Nate Chinen, WBGO

  • Pop Smoke, 'Meet the Woo 2'

    Pop Smoke, 'Meet the Woo 2'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Just weeks before he was killed in a home invasion, Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke released Meet The Woo 2. Let the tape ride and it plays like a 34-minute drill epic composed of cascading, floor-shaking movements. But sink into the album cuts and you're rewarded. It all embodies the curious mind of a kid from Canarsie who had so much left to prove. — Mano Sundaresan

  • Royce Da 5'9", 'The Allegory'

    Royce Da 5'9", 'The Allegory'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    The latest album from Detroit rapper/producer Royce da 5'9" is a detailed allegory for black life in America. Tackling everything from racism, white supremacy and politics to community, fatherhood and group economics, Royce packs a world of social issues into these rich, fiery songs. — John Morrison, XPN

  • Soccer Mommy, 'Color Theory'

    Soccer Mommy, 'Color Theory'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    On her sophomore record as Soccer Mommy, songwriter Sophie Allison is unflinching in her depiction of depressive episodes and paranoia about looming death. She sets them against a deceptively sunny '90s pop template, staring down adolescent trauma with a tone that's both unsentimental and deeply empathetic. — Marissa Lorusso

  • Spanish Love Songs, 'Brave Faces Everyone'

    Spanish Love Songs, 'Brave Faces, Everyone!'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    With song titles like "Losers" and "Routine Pain," you'd be forgiven for mistaking L.A. quintet Spanish Love Songs as a band of nihilists. Instead, Brave Faces Everyone is a record of solidarity in spite of grim circumstances. Its characters beg to escape and forget, but also to be seen and understood. — Lyndsey McKenna

  • Thomas Adès, 'Adès Conducts Adès'

    Thomas Adès, 'Adès Conducts Adès'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    With its combustible, kaleidoscopic theatrics and serene spaces of exceptional beauty, Thomas Adès' Concerto for Piano and Orchestra riffs on old classics while speaking a distinctively 21st-century tongue. Paired with the foreboding "Dance of Death," for huge orchestral forces, and voices, the album clinches Adès' status as a contemporary master. — Tom Huizenga