Wanderer is neither as harrowing as Moon Pix nor as kaleidoscopic as Sun, but it shows a mature artist who rides the waves of tumultuous experience — no less excellent for containing her multitudes.
Although the trap-influenced style wears thin at times, so sad so sexy is a superb reinvention of Lykke Li.
After 17 years as a solo artist, Stephen Malkmus still has the ability to delight, if perhaps not outright surprise, his audience. Sparkle Hard is at once his most sonically adventurous and structurally tight set of music in over a decade and easily stands among his most rewarding work with the Jicks.
His ability to shape-shift in and out of genres wide and far still gives his new material a bit of intrigue. Look Now is another solid entry into an already healthy and vital body of work.
Jeff Tweedy has long grown into his standing as one of rock music’s most innovative songwriters, which might make WARM’s more stripped-down and folksier approach somewhat surprising. But this isn’t the sound of regression. Instead, it’s the work of a seasoned songwriter proving that he’s as good at penning powerful, personal songs in a traditional vein as he is layering records with bells and whistles.
Age Of is easily Lopatin’s most ambitious album. The composer has always combined highbrow and lowbrow art in a way that utilizes the former to validate the latter, and Age Of continues showing that true art shouldn’t have either boundary.
With No Shame, Allen has eschewed making an Irish exit from her days as a party girl and instead delivered a eulogy that gracefully buries the past while continuing to seek the sunshine of the future.
Fans hoping for a repeat of the accessibility and groove of the self-titled album or the spasticity and rawness of earlier albums might be disappointed, but You Won’t Get What You Want is a brave and excellent addition to Daughters’ discography.
This is great pop music with an edge, a record full of good vibes and bad attitude that somehow manages to work everything out splendidly.
Rock music has a bad habit of looking backwards, and the same can be said of Car Seat Headrest’s Twin Fantasy. But this album flips that rearview gaze on its head, suggesting that the past may well contain new and exciting paths forward. It’s a neat inversion that yields some of the most thrillingly ambitious indie rock compositions of this decade, though one that occasionally exhausts the listener into submission.
It may feel like he is on cruise control a bit, but James’ coasting is any other artist’s magnum opus.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love has moving, emotional pieces and sharp performances bolstered by a band clearly stretching out of its comfort zone successfully. The album is a refreshing new shade of their sound without abandoning the band’s core mechanics.
Decidedly less commercial than its immediate predecessor, Paranoia 2 returns to the Kairi Chanel mixtape vibe that initially endeared him to lyrically minded hip-hop heads.
I Loved You At Your Darkest is another strong addition to Behemoth’s remarkable run, which has now lasted more than a quarter century. It reveals some welcome growth within a subgenre of heavy music that has often been resistant to evolution.
As expected, Tell Me How You Really Feel still finds Barnett writing “Courtney Barnett” songs, but there’s an unmistakable growth in the Aussie’s compositions.
They best the previous effort with full-bodied production and cleaner, more-focused writing.
Aviary benefits from its overlong sprawl, a testament to the art of slowing down and getting lost in a challenging album that has been forgotten in the age of streaming where new releases inundate with their frequency.
Testing is loud, frenetic, spastic, and about as vibrant as rap can be. The songs are busy, crowded with radiant instrumentation and stacked vocals, and rarely take time to breathe. It’s a welcome addition to a genre that has become so occupied with spacey, bare-bones operations and overly simplistic results.
Bloom is a fun record, dreamy and vulnerable and urgently horny.
Lush is one of the most engaging and relatable indie rock debuts in quite some time.
FM! features the rapper in his raw form and representing his love for the west coast.
The pleasure of Room 25 is in hearing a master wordsmith turn words into feelings so that the feelings linger long after the words have stopped.
Though informed by the blaxploitation soundtracks of the ‘70s and the label-driven hip-hop soundtracks of the ‘90s, Black Panther: The Album is very much of its time: a well-produced and incredibly cohesive album with the loose swagger of a curated playlist.
Iridescence is full-to-bursting; it’s like almost eating too much food, almost drinking too much booze; it’s getting close to too much, and still asking for more.
Though nothing from the album may ever get played in a ballroom, Negro Swan is a grand work that gives credit to the pioneers of the culture while building a path forward within that framework, placing Hynes firmly in the canon as one of the most insightful musicians of his generation.
Uchis builds off a classic foundation of soul, R&B, funk, and blues, bursting outward in dozens of innovative contemporary directions. On Isolation, she never sounds trapped in another era; she sounds free and inventive.
Musgraves hits one high note after another on Golden Hour; her talent as a songwriter and melody-maker is second to none, and each song is thoughtful, well-formed, and a delightful experience on its own.
On Invasion of Privacy, she breezes past the challenge of a highly anticipated debut by making one of the most exciting rap albums in years.
Within such a short span of time, boygenius manages to cover universal experiences of insecurity and perpetual, sometimes funny sadness, along with more individual situations like the instability of touring, all with the same specificity, cleverness, and dreamlike melodies that could not have come from anyone else, nor could it have come from these musicians individually.
It’s groovy and funky and sultry, and it takes things seriously while still being joyful. It encourages freedom of form, in the sense of both body and art.
After claiming his place in the spotlight by overwhelming force with The Epic, Kamasi Washington capitalizes on both his newfound fame and his journeyman work ethic to produce a follow-up that’s more intimate and just as daring at the same time.
At 10 breezy tracks, Care for Me isn’t just a collection of songs; it’s an honest-to-god album that develops ideas at its own pace.
Monáe is, as always, a true master of melding genres, influences, and styles. Her central themes of identity and internal conflict are as tangible on Dirty Computer as they ever have been.
On a songwriting level, Mitski — already established as a top-tier songwriter — has outdone herself on Be the Cowboy. The album is full of constructions that are simple, bold, sharp, and generous. She wastes not a single second, every moment is intentional, every instrument employed for a purpose.