2019 has been an outstanding year for queer music — as every year is — but this one has been even gayer than usual. More and more women musicians are embracing their identity and unabashed love for ~the ladies.~ From newcomers like King Princess to legends like Tegan and Sara, the increase of out musicians continues to inspire courage, visibility, and healing to their loyal listeners. Not to mention, their existence displays how innately creative and talented our community is. In celebration the massive gay energy of the current musical landscape, we’ve decided to rank the ten gayest albums of 2019 — all from lesbian, bi and queer women — by just how gay they really are.
10. Sleater-Kinney, “The Center Won’t Hold”
On their first LP in four years, the punk icons deliver what many consider to be their boldest effort to date, mainly due to the departure from their riot grrrl origins. While immersing themselves in art-pop — and never losing their distinct edge — they’ve teamed up with St. Vincent to bring this record to life. That’s a lot of talented queer women (and ex-girlfriends) in one room, making it impossible to deny the gay energy that “The Center Won’t Hold” exudes.
9. Tegan and Sara, “Hey, I’m Just Like You”
We all know that every Tegan and Sara album is gay, so it’s no question that their ninth release would make an appearance on this list. A companion to their memoir “High School,” this album is comprised of re-recorded demos they wrote as teenagers, mixing ethereal dance-pop with their indie rock roots. On “Hey, I’m Just Like You,” the twin sisters have crafted a tribute to gay angst that bursts with nostalgia, inviting in fans both old and new. It’s not only an ode to identity, but the maturity to grow.
8. Arthur Moon, “Arthur Moon”
I initially discovered Arthur Moon (the moniker of Lora-Faye Åshuvud) last July when she released her music video for “Wait a Minute,” which features archival clips from Dyke Marches and Pride parades in New York. Her debut, self-titled album finally released this past August, and it was more than worth the wait. Trippy and experimental, Moon takes an approach to indie pop that’s fresher and more radical than others in the genre. Tracks like “Reverse Conversion Therapy” and the liberating “Homonormo” elevate the record’s message of finding comfort and joy in weirdness. On the inspiration for her music, Moon tells Out Magazine, “In general, I’m inspired by queer pleasure, by the moments of ecstatic disorientation which can sometimes come from being outside a norm, upside-down, uncanny. And I often get excited about the idea of playing with time signature as a musical analog to that.”
7. Big Thief, “U.F.O.F.”
For me, “U.F.O.F.” is easily the best album on this list and of 2019 entirely. The folk rock quartet’s material has always felt akin to medicine without the awful taste; music meant to remedy inner wounds, new and old. However, their music is more uplifting than ever before on this third release. Lead vocalist/guitarist Adrianne Lenker has the voice of a goddess and weaves words together so exquisitely that she puts Sappho’s poetry to shame (plus, we can’t get enough of the cute photos she shares on Instagram of her girlfriend, Indigo Sparkle). While creating characters and narratives is frequent in Big Thief’s work, “U.F.O.F.” features only women’s names in its lyrics and track titles (Jodi, Caroline, Violet, Betsy, Jenni), often referenced in an affectionate nature. “Orange” is also a particularly sapphic standout, in which Lenker sings:
Orange is the color of my love
Fragile orange wind in the garden
Fragile means that I can hear her flesh
Crying little rivers in her forearm
Fragile is that I mourn her death
As our limbs are twisting in her bedroom
“U.F.O.F.” invites listeners into a world of love, longing, and connecting with the unknown, and its mellow yet impactful presence will long be embedded in our minds.
6. Clairo, Immunity
When Claire Cottrill, better known as viral musician Clairo, came out as sexually fluid last year, gay fans inevitably came in droves. Her newfound courage and self-acceptance flows directly into her debut record, Immunity, demonstrating that her artistry is broader than her bedroom pop days. While much of Clairo’s early material could be interpreted as gay, this album finds her being explicitly open about her attraction to women. “Softly” observes her confessing her love to a girl who’s unaware of Clairo’s feelings. That track precedes the bolder “Sofia,” which is about her crushes on women in media, as well as overcoming her fear of being into them. “Sofia, know that you and I / Shouldn’t feel like a crime,” she sings. Overall, Immunity depicts a beautiful, reflective journey of an artist coming into her own and letting go of insecurities.
5. Girl in Red, “Beginnings”
A collection of her first two EPs, chapter 1 and chapter 2, Beginnings chronicles the launch of Marie Ulven’s burgeoning musical career. As Girl in Red, Ulven is known for creating relatable lo-fi anthems about lesbian love and mental health. With emotionally raw tracks like “i wanna be your girlfriend” and “watch you sleep,” it’s no wonder why tons of gay women are obsessed with her music.
4. The Japanese House, “Good At Falling”
After four breathtaking EPs over the course of three years, dream pop act The Japanese House (the solo project of Amber Bain) released her long-awaited debut album in March. “Good At Falling” reflects on Bain’s own experiences with women, naturally bringing out nuances of lesbian romance that only our community can relate to. Several tracks are a tribute to her relationship with her ex-girlfriend, fellow lesbian musician Marika Hackman. “Lilo” compares Hackman and their romance itself to a lilo (a British term for floatie) drifting across a swimming pool, calm and carefree. That dynamic remains between them even though they’re no longer together, which “We Talk All the Time” details. “Good At Falling” is an extension of Bain’s euphoric, emotive, and unforgettable virtuosity. She can clearly live on after heartache and reaches out to listeners as she does, reassuring that they can too.
3. King Princess, “Cheap Queen”
Although the beloved single “Pussy Is God” wasn’t included on her debut record, “Cheap Queen” is loaded with Big Dyke Energy that one can always expect from King Princess. Centering on the ups and downs of a real-life relationship, the genderqueer, lesbian artist (born Mikaela Straus) delivers her most expressive and eclectic work to date, establishing her as a force to be reckoned with in the world of pop. Straus’s lyrics typically revolve around love, desire, and identity, and how being gay has informed those experiences; for example, the club banger “Hit the Back” — which she calls an “anthem for bottoms everywhere” — and the all-too-accurate “Homegirl,” where she comes face to face with the way men objectify lesbian couples. “Cheap Queen” displays why King Princess is more than deserving of her quick rise to fame, and her tight-knit following of gays across the globe.
2. Marika Hackman, “Any Human Friend”
When Marika Hackman released a song that referenced “The L Word” (“My Lover Cindy”) on her previous record, I immediately knew she was someone I needed on my radar. “Any Human Friend” is the pop rock musician’s best release yet and affirms that she’s a lyrical genius. It encapsulates Hackman at her most candid and erotic, covering topics like desire, breakups, and masturbation. On the gorgeous “all night,” she revels in the beauty of lesbian sex:
We go down on one another
You’re my favourite kind of lover
With your kissing (eating) fucking (moaning)
Kiss it (eat it) fuck it
As a dyke who prefers overt gay lyrics instead of euphemisms, this album is a dream come true.
1. Shura, “forevher”
Upon first listen of this indie pop masterpiece, it’s easy to tell that “forevher” was created by a lesbian in love. Intimate lyrics and airy textures consume Shura’s (real name Aleksandra Denton) second album, a moving celebration of the ecstasy of romance. Most of the tracks are inspired by her current girlfriend, who she met on the dating app Raya, and their long-distance connection. “BKLYNLDN” is not just a summer love ballad, but a U-Hauling anthem, capturing when Shura moved to New York from London to live with her girlfriend. “religion (u can lay your hands on me)” and “control” explore urgent desire, amplifying “forevher’s” refuge of bliss. The record toys with religious themes as well, reminding listeners that women falling in love with each other is a divine experience, weightier than just an emotion. Years from now, this album is guaranteed to become a classic, a force that lesbians will instantly gravitate to in need of joy.