Her lyrics are inscrutable and her vocal and visual stylings eccentric, but Harding’s third album is a thing of beauty.
This is an intriguing album, futuristic in tone but hardwired to an ancient and deeply spiritual vision of what music can achieve.
This feels like the work of a pop star previously happy to act as conduit for other people, finally working out who they are and what they want to say. Here, Grande finds her voice.
UFOF sees them pare things down further still, in a collection of gentle folk that seems dazed by its own exquisite beauty.
The highs are thrilling, and despite their obvious pedigree, arranged unlike anything else in contemporary pop. They also reveal the lows more starkly.
Fearless and incisive, Dave’s reportage-style tracks sketch out race, prison and abusive relationships, resulting in a landmark record.
Adventurous but never abstruse, New Breed sounds effortless, as though transforming yourself from a manufactured pop star into a unique artist is the easiest thing in the world.
Unpredictability is a rare and rather valuable commodity in a world of media-trained personalities and music dictated by the metrics of streaming services, and it’s something Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? has in abundance.
There simply isn’t a weak or even middling track, and the strongest can go toe to toe with the best of Al Green or Bobby Womack.
This is the kind of songwriting quality that bands can take years to reach, or never reach at all: brilliant, top to bottom.
Herndon counters the hysteria around AI with an album that presents it as a quizzical, cute pet on the leash of a human master: a sensitive, responsive part of the family.
Full of dust-shaking beats, layered vocals and sticky melodies, the record is every bit as rousing as Heavn, with even more intricate production flourishes. But as ever with Woods – who is also an acclaimed poet – her words hold the greatest weight.
While her close friend Alexa Dash belts out an undeniable anthem as lead singer on Leave Room 2 Breathe, it’s Jayda G’s own vocal work that ultimately unites Significant Changes, accenting hooks with fizzy ad-libs, steering tunes with sprawling falsettos and resounding in the deep.
Blood is an enticingly restrained debut, showing a consistency of tone without compromising on Lu’s inventiveness.
Her fourth album, No Words Left, is her starkest, filled with lyrics about uncertainty and isolation, and yet her most striking, conveying the strongest sense of her artistic identity yet.
In between the mock adverts, Miss Universe throws up a ragged miscellany of styles – rackety alt-rock, radio-ready pop, saxophones that appear to have escaped from a Sade album, jagged left-field guitars, primitive drum machines and what sounds like an attempt to make the kind of 80s AOR ballad that’s popular with Magic Radio on a lo-fi, bedroom-bound budget – all blessed by the melodic facility already in evidence when Yanya made her debut.
As ever, Sleaford Mods are a voice that must be heard.
Clever, bleak, funny, bracing, aware of a broad musical heritage but never in thrall to it: after you hear Nothing Great About Britain, it’s even more obvious why Slowthai stands out.
Its 18 tracks seem to belong in an august tradition begun by the Beatles’ eponymous 1968 release: the double album not as grandiose conceptual statement, but a crowded, loose scrapbook of ideas, not all of them fully baked.
Incidental Music is like a rollercoaster ride you want to get straight back on and do all over again.