The album winds up feeling like the first in Newsom’s catalog that won’t be considered a classic, but it’s proof that a sturdy, thought-provoking, and rewarding record doesn’t necessarily need to stand next to her past work to find its own greatness.
With Are You Alone?, Devon Welsh and Majical Cloudz find a way to exist within that gray, to thrive in it, to acknowledge the mortality and the chaos and the gray, and reach out a hand.
Despite a penchant for excess, FIDLAR never fully commits to one extreme, and the most interesting parts of Too come when the band struggles to contextualize the royal mess that is their lives.
With HBHBHB, Welch has added a considerable amount of feeling to her catalog, and it should go down as one of the year’s most well-crafted personal statements.
It should come as no surprise that follow-up b’lieve i’m goin down… finds Vile continuing to self-deprecate, amble, and sigh, despite the new tier of success. Neither should it be a surprise that all those qualities remain entirely charming.
The precise beauty of their production work, specifically the refusal to dump gratuitous instruments into the mix, places Magnifique at the top of Ratatat’s catalogue. Stroud and Mast let guitars beat at the album’s heart, and their balance of bubbly and peaceful elements ushers a return too fluid to ignore.
At nine songs and just over 36 minutes, Fading Frontier is a filler-free opus of experimental rock splendor that never lags and always intrigues. It’s pretty sharp for a noise or garage rock album with sleek bass lines and vibrant electronic add-ons.
The relative sparseness of melody makes Mutant slipperier than much of Arca’s older work, but the way he’s able to use texture and rhythm as his primary tools of progression is worth the patience it asks of us.
It might be one of the most in-the-moment albums ever made, as if Kozelek vomited words about everything that’s gone on his life since Benji right as it was all happening, kicked the ass of a few chords until they fit around the lyrics, called over Steve Shelley to lay down some drums, then cut it all to tape.
The specificity in the lyrics and the clarity of Standell-Preston’s voice gives the album an immediate human pull. Beneath that initial glitter, though, Braids have stockpiled a wealth of complexities like puzzles for us to untangle.
Its audacity and stylistic shifts may have resulted in an album that’s not quite as much like coming home as Sunbather, but it shows a genuine and fascinating maturation in a band that deserves to remain in the spotlight for all the right reasons.
One of the most fully realized and confident debuts in recent memory, Natalie Prass is an expertly sequenced and executed work that transforms decades of American music tradition into something relevant to the 21st century.
Intellect highlights the band’s strengths, with Casey’s melodies punching through some of the sturdiest rock and roll arrangements since The National emerged with Alligator and Boxer.
Sleater-Kinney are sick of the rules as they stand, but they don’t just want to break the rules; they want to make new ones. They could only do that by coming back together to reintroduce their own perspective and fight their own battle.
An artist of uncompromising power and originality, he has proven that he will not, cannot conform to the expectations of the music industry, his adoring fans, or anyone else. He is a delicate, impulsive genius of rare distinction, and this defiant streak is essential to the character of his music.
Each song grows richer the more you explore its open space. Its minimalism breathes buckets of color. After one listen or 10, In Colour reflects brightly, a phenomenally poised and universally approachable solo debut.
Currents is all about the wide lens. It’s not the landscape worth falling in love with, but the way Parker gives us a tour. Let it happen, and it will carry you off somewhere much further away than you realized was worth visiting.