Where Sylvan Esso collected some great songs, What Now feels like a statement of purpose, a duo stretching into the shape it was meant to be and bringing it all purposefully together.
Anti’s tracks combine to create a picture of Rihanna at her most relatable and enthralling.
Unlike its two predecessors, which burned hot but only in spots, Modern Vampires feels like a rare thought-through album in the iTunes age.
Coloring Book delivers one celebratory hymnal after another, emphasizing the natural high that comes with feeling loved and watched over.
Butler and company imbue The Suburbs with such a strong sense of place and mood that it builds in impact throughout.
Rado’s opulent production gives the experience of listening to Titanic Rising—particularly on headphones—the feeling of being enveloped in sound, insulated from the outside world like an astronaut looking down at the earth through layers of atmosphere.
While All We Love lacks cohesion in spots, it solidifies Converge’s position as one of hardcore’s most progressive yet soulful stalwarts.
The first record was a grower, gradually establishing itself as one of the great producer-emcee efforts of the young millennium, but Bandana seems designed to dazzle, to assert a joint legacy.
Tramp is Van Etten’s most confident-sounding album to date, pushing at the boundaries of her music and suggesting a turn away from the romantic wound-licking that has dominated her lyrics.
Flying Lotus reaches into the past in order to create something clearly of the future – a hybridized work that challenges others to follow its dazzling blueprint.
Building on the best tendencies of her earlier songs, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit finds Barnett deftly connecting the foreground to the background, the surface to the undercurrent.
Ctrl is as tough as Damn is tender, and it knocks as hard as The Sun’s Tirade swoons. It’s weirder than any of them, and maybe funnier, too.
There’s no prescribed narrative, but Singularity still tells a grand story—a synesthetic evocation of how it feels to be alive.
What’s most amazing about Acid Rap isn’t Chance’s talent, but how eagerly he employs it. There’s hardly a track where he isn’t pushing or testing himself, or somehow going out of his way to dazzle with torrential wordplay or euphoric, dopamine-pumped production.
Puberty 2 exposes new dimensions to Mitski’s voice, revealing its true richness and range. Mitski is an exceptionally keen observer of the human condition, and Puberty 2 marks a triumphant new step in her evolution.
James Blake’s talent is in his ability to smoothly synthesize disparate influences; his willingness to grow and develop while doing so is fascinating and frequently rapturous.
Where the debut broke its sound into episodic chunks, Tame Impala now finds a singular sound in the cross-section of timeless pop and psychedelia.
What’s undeniable is that moments from Sunbather will resonate long after the pointless babble has died down, proving that sometimes the greatest beauty can only be found in the face of chaos.
For all its jazz accents and solos, Blackstar ends up becoming a stage for the things that first made Bowie a pop star: his incessantly catchy melodies and elastic voice. With its simple (though oblique) lyrics and endlessly repeated choruses, it’s a secret pop record submerged in the dark places of studio improvisation.
It’s tricky territory to navigate in these cynical times, and hardened hearts and ears might find it off-putting. But meet Carrie & Lowell on its terms and it’s revelatory.
Teen Dream is deeper in hue than its predecessors. Its blues are bluer, even while warmer tones abound, and Scally’s guitar emotes as lithely as the voice it dances with.
She continues her march toward accessibility, rendering hazy, quixotic sketches into tangible, hook-heavy electro-pop.
As on its predecessors, Damn. is packed tight with thoughts, anxieties, and anecdotes, but this time Lamar doesn’t even try to shape them into a big picture ... Lamar trusts every idea to stand on its own. When you’re making art this substantial, vital, and virtuosic, there’s no need to wrap a tidy bow around it.
The Idler Wheel… is an innately private record, as Apple’s tend to be, but she has a way of drawing listeners in as she pushes them away, luring them, siren-like, into the maelstrom of her own reflection.
There’s an inherent risk in a voice as powerful as Olsen’s. It’s a winning hand other singer-songwriters could easily overplay, pushing every song to histrionics, but even on an album as brash as Burn Your Fire, Olsen knows when to pull back.
Engaging the darkness (rather than just acknowledging it) adds some flesh-and-blood humanity to an artist whose excellent output has nonetheless been marked by cold distance.
Few debuts possess such control and ambition all in one; LP1 is the rare album that manages to sound both lived in and completely futuristic.
Over the course of Body Talk, Robyn has proved that there’s real emotion to be found among the ones and zeros of electronic music, and Pt 3. is the culmination of that outlook: euphoric, personal, and inspirational to the last beat.
Swift’s never going to be as bleak as Del Rey or as sexually frank as Madonna, but, on 1989, she’s figured out how to be an adult once and for all.
Where Good Kid was a linear story, To Pimp A Butterfly is an 80-minute pileup of loose ends, unfinished thoughts, and contradictions. Lamar will hint at a conclusion, then refute it; point fingers, then redirect them.
All over Lemonade, Beyoncé is describing her own personal reality, on her terms and informed by her worldview. That the album simultaneously pushes mainstream music into smarter, deeper places is simply a reminder of why she remains pop’s queen.
Kanye’s best album since The College Dropout, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy finds its creator in complete control of the chaos swirling inside his vivid imagination.