A singular talent, Harding seems to have hit her stride on album number three, and while the darkness of previous efforts is still pervasive, Designer feels like a summer record, though it's probably best suited for dusk.
Bird isn't afraid of melodrama or broad gestures, yet his emotional force is carefully focused and purposeful in these sessions, and this work speaks to the heart as well as the intellect.
Though she may have initially built her reputation on stark and brittle atmospheres, it turns out that her trademark vulnerability is only elevated by these stirring, highly stylized interpretations, making it a risk that pays off in spades.
The difference with thank u next is, this time Grande is swaggering with the confidence that comes with unquestioned stardom.
Thanks to maturity, Fridmann's mix, and uncanny sequencing, every song fits seamlessly inside each proceeding one, delivering a mercurial yet satisfying whole that makes Gold & Grey the band's finest outing to date, if not their masterpiece.
This time, Wilkinson spotlights the acoustic elements that have added warmth to his sound since the beginning, and the freshness of Ribbons suggest that his break from song-based music reinvigorated him.
A foray into artful album rock for the band, U.F.O.F.'s shifts in presentation are subtle and seem wholly organic throughout. It's a record deserving of such an evocative title, which captures its dreamily impressionistic yet unsettling nature.
With When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, she demonstrates that she can do it all, hinting at a bright future that could truly go in any direction, as messy and hopeful as youth can get.
Fortunately, Jepsen is just as committed to her music as she is to the ideal of true love, and the way she's grown without sacrificing her uniqueness makes Dedicated a master class in what a 2010s pop album can be.
Easily Le Bon's most involved, risky, and satisfying material up until this point.
Closing a decade defined by stadium-sized hits of optimism, Coldplay manages to grow even bigger with Everyday Life, absorbing flavors from across the globe with their most indulgent and, perhaps, poignant album yet.
Fireraisers Forever! is one of their best albums in a long career full of them. Everything clicks into place right from the start and the emotion, the songcraft, and the power hooks never let up.
In less than a half hour, Curry establishes himself not only as one of the most capable and exciting artists of his generation, but also worthy of a place in Miami's rap pedigree, right alongside the local icons who inspired this gem.
Thanks to Ex Hex's sheer commitment to their rock & roll fantasies, It's Real never feels less than genuine.
Like the dancer she is, Barnett pushes through pain in pursuit of beauty and truth, and the leaps she makes are breathtaking.
Crush certainly comes across as fragmentary, as if a dozen tracks, at least a couple albums worth of ideas, were truncated, quickly sequenced, and packed onto one LP. That said, it's hard to imagine more forethought and deliberation resulting in a listen more riveting than this one.
An LP more rounded and more stirring than the excellent first one.
A winning combination of his long-standing and more recently developed gifts, This Is How You Smile is a culmination of Helado Negro's work and completely relevant to when it was released.
This galvanizing declaration of pride, support, and discontent will no doubt inspire covers itself. Every public library should have at least one copy.
It's this type of devastating emotional honesty -- one that admits both strength and weakness -- that, along with the performances, sets this record apart from others in its heavy-hearted category.
Lux Prima is the sophisticated, sonically adventurous album Karen O deserves to make at this point in her career.
While much of her older material revelled in its own inconsolable sadness and detached numbness, the lush sonics and intimate narratives of NFR! draw out hope from beneath desolate scenes.
The Livelong Day is a vigorously played, smartly arranged long game that sees classics like "The Wild Rover" and "Katie Cruel" stretched and driven into unpredictable minor epics using little more than the group's voices and a handful of acoustic instruments.
Her evolution up to this point was a clear signifier, with all the components in place even in her early work; on Grey Area, it feels as if everything has come together in perfect unison, resulting in one of the strongest rap albums of 2019.
Fueled by megawatt energy that never lets up, Cuz I Love You is a triumphant showcase for every part of Lizzo's talent, physicality, and sexuality.
With Love Hates What You Become, Lost Under Heaven hit you in the heart right out of the gate, but then spend the rest of the album building you back up, hammering a crack into reality to let the light in.
Overall, this is one of Ronson's best works -- a complete pop album.
With near-peerless levels of confidence, fearlessly bold lyricism, and relentless, expertly crafted beats, Fever establishes Megan Thee Stallion as a figure in Southern rap.
As fine as Love & Hate was -- worthy of all its accolades -- Kiwanuka stands head and shoulders above it as a complex, communicative, poetic, and sometimes even profound collection that wears its heart on its sleeve and its sophistication in its grooves.
Perhaps that may mean that Wildcard isn't as emotionally resonant as some of Lambert's other records, but there's no denying she's delivered exactly what she intended with this album: It's one hell of a good time.
Ghosteen sounds like the musings of a handful of lost souls, each trapped in their own barren prairie with memories that soothe and ache at once, and its power is overwhelming while the volume is low-key.
It may be the fourth entry in their progressive evolution, but it's their first to deliver the full realization of the band's potential.
Filled with lonely songs that are as warm as a hug from a long-lost friend, Purple Mountains is more of a rebirth than a debut, as well as a potent, poignant reminder of how much Berman has been missed.
While nothing here is quite as creative as Laila standout "Jesus Coming," the MC's lyrical marksmanship, top-tier mike command, and service to her people and culture are indisputable.
Throughout Remind Me Tomorrow, she plumbs the depths of contentedness, setting her satisfaction to a sound that's nominally dark yet strangely comforting and nourishing. Even if this album doesn't speak to your specific life, it will nevertheless enrich it.
Compared to A Seat at the Table, the balance of which processed anguish and anger, this is lighter and freer, above all else a luxuriant bliss-out.
Her freest, richest, most accomplished work.
Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery is urgent, sophisticated, and humorous. It actually delivers the music of tomorrow via the traditions of past and present; it's a convulsive exercise in the articulation of inner and outer space.
The message, which is implicit nearly as often as it's explicit, may be at the forefront of The Highwomen, but the record's resonance lies in its deep emotions and sense of craft.
Considering the long gap between albums, there was a lingering fear that they couldn't live up to their own hype or legacy. Fortunately, Tool managed to improve and perfect their sound even further, resulting in one of the strongest statements in their catalog.
The productions are as nuanced and judiciously tricked out as they are on the previous album, adjusted to enhance all the agitation and grief, yet it's all ear candy -- spiraling synthesizers, vaguely psychedelic flourishes, and bumping drums galore. Roll down the windows, crank it, and keep the tissue on the armrest.
More complex yet more direct than anything they've done before, Father of the Bride finds Vampire Weekend embracing change and delivering some of their most mature and satisfying music in the process.
The Age of Immunology's seamless flow reinforces Vanishing Twin's manifesto that different sounds -- and people -- can coexist in harmony. It's a message that is all the more refreshing, and necessary, during a time when figurative and literal barriers between people are only growing.
Fantastic songs, meticulously detailed production and a certain, hard to name spark of connection all gel into the near-perfect statement that every part of Mering's strange journey before this led up to.