As has been the case upon nearly every release since Alligator, The National have put out another album that could easily be argued as their best—and it may be easier to make that claim now than ever before.
Full of transformation and deserved indignation, The Center Won’t Hold is the first Sleater-Kinney album since the rest of the world started to catch up.
Charli rockets down the same hyperspeed lane as Pop 2, and like its predecessor, it’s home to a staggering number of unyielding future-pop anthems.
In under 30 minutes and in just nine songs, Pratt produces a warm, bewitching alternate dimension—but not the kind you fall into in a nightmare or thriller. The universe she’s fashioned for herself is more paradisal.
Meg Duffy’s humble, comforting vocals will help cushion the blow that will inevitably come with any relationship, and their poetic aptitude results in a record that’s just as therapeutic and affecting on the written page as it is in sung form.
An immense, nearly overwhelming spaciousness takes over Pang, which is intricately produced and layered with resplendent, crystalline trinkets of noise and sound unspooling around Polachek, whose vocals, immaculate and exacting, are amplified and crushed by reverb and vocoder.
Young Enough introduces new moods and textures without tamping down the band’s irrepressible likeability.
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? has its faults, not quite hitting its full potential, but it gets damn well close, delivering an infectious record for the post-party hangover.
This album—a treasure trove of zippy guitar hooks, glimmering synths and lemony vocals expertly curated by Hackman—is all about human connection. She hones in on her emotional and sexual connections both to herself and others post-breakup.
If you have the patience to drill deep enough into i,i, the bright spots are incandescent.
Not only is LEGACY! LEGACY! one of the best albums of the year with its incandescent power and hooks that never stop giving, it achieves the remarkable feat of crafting a cohesive whole out of a dozen disparate stories.
Even House of Sugar’s most fragmentary songs overflow with inescapable earworms of harrowing acoustic chords, sneering electric riffs, hyper-processed vocal snippets, queasy pianos, ghastly synths and simplistic drum programming.
This is an emotionally multi-faceted album to luxuriate in. Whether you take solace in her sultry, rich voice, instrumentals that range from bubbly to rugged or become invested in her confessional storytelling, Nilüfer Yanya’s Miss Universe can be easily enjoyed during a night out or night in.
Maggie Rogers is a pure pop star and a deserving one, at that. She’s self-assured in a way other radio stars aren’t, never afraid to fold in her folk background and do whatever she wants. And you just can’t help but root for her.
On U.F.O.F., Big Thief embrace their more subtle and mystical sides while capturing a wider array of landscapes.
There are no bangers on the album, but there aren’t any sleepers either; fans that just want a XXX 2 will likely be disappointed.
Of this album’s 12 graceful, all equally important tracks, several bring new content to the country table.
An imaginative indie-pop chronicle of millennial malaise.
Now that we’re finally granted a listen to what he’s been working on for over half a decade, it’s simply impossible not to wonder what happened and where they lost their way, culminating in a major disappointment for perhaps the most anticipated indie rock album in recent memory.
Better Oblivion Community Center is the kind of warm and fuzzy record that provides listeners with a soul-lifting ending no matter which path they choose—to collapse into the arms of its devastating lyrical woe or to jump onstage with Oberst and Bridgers and bask in its giddy musical benevolence.
Tyler attempts to up the ante on IGOR and he succeeds to a large extent.
He’s just as bummed out as ever on Purple Mountains, and he still makes being bummed out sound better than just about anyone else.
Often, listening to Ghosteen feels like attending a surreal, freewheeling wake.
Dogrel is an album of tremendous ardor and vivid landscapes, and interspersed with an Irish underdog spirit, Fontaines D.C. are nearly untouchable.
Schlagenheim is beyond weird. Schlagenheim is a legitimate one of a kind record. Schlagenheim is a masterpiece.
Her music and her persona may be inextricably entwined, but it’s a delightfully fun package.
Jacklin clearly had to sort through mountains of wreckage to arrive here, but the album’s autobiographical nature is what makes it so affecting ... in recognizing the non-exclusivity of her experiences, she made something singular.
Dedicated could’ve easily been either a woebegone heartbreak record or a carefree, lovestruck free-for-all had it been dreamt up by someone else. Instead, thanks to Ms. Jepsen’s talent for processing feelings, it’s an intersection of those two ends of the pop spectrum and a daring display of chart-topping sounds from across the decades.
The album’s 11 songs are spontaneous, fluid and entirely indifferent to genre as they pour out of her like the torrential rains of an evening thunderstorm.
MAGDALENE is the sound of an artist gluing together the million tiny shards in which she found herself after an explosive breakup.
Two Hands does not dramatically depart from the mesmerizing folk-rock fusion of U.F.O.F., but its best moments emphasize the band’s gnarled electric energy, particularly on the career highlight “Not.”
Sharon Van Etten was already one of the great lyricists of the ‘10s, but with this breathtaking new project, she’s proved an artistic pliancy her contemporaries may not possess. She hit her stride with Are We There, but here she’s not even on the ground.
Her newfound embrace of violins, violas and cellos elevates her shadowy, often synth-infused rock to extraordinarily goosebump-inducing heights, making All Mirrors her third consecutive (and likely best) masterpiece to date.
Titanic Rising ... finds Mering edging her peculiar psych-folk closer than ever to the sound of traditional pop music. For someone with a documented predilection for idiosyncrasy and experimentation, she sounds completely at ease in these new songs, and ready for bigger things ahead.