If Sideways To New Italy is a reckoning, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's balance sheet is entirely in the black.
Investing pop with such potent subtext has long been the U.S. Girls project; thanks to its exquisite craft, and Remy's feel for her characters, that project finds its finest expression yet in Heavy Light.
With its acute portraits of a troubled and tangled life, Reunions is ultimately a story of redemption through fatherhood and self-knowledge, epic soul-country opener What I've Done To Help setting the mood perfectly.
While the ambitious orchestrations of All Mirrors aren't yet in the picture, these songs -- encompassing love, despair and the rejection of youthful illusions -- are well served by the sparse guitar-and-vocal arrangements and intimate, reverb-y ambience.
Some secret stash of more out-there recordings too kooky for over-the-counter consumption, Songs For The General Public astonishes and delights.
Without ironing out his early-Beck-ish quirks, MADLO's higher-fi moves demand wider attention.
This sixth solo outing explores further that album's [Prince of Tears] blend of mechanical funk and luxuriant orchestration of female-sung choruses and character monologues.
So, as autumnal clouds signal the close of a dismal year, is Optimisme justified? Is the glass half full or half empty? Well, it's a very big glass and - more importantly - what it contains is extremely tasty.
Highly entertaining, though best consumed a few songs at a time, Quickies is more than a novelty record, though certainly novel.
Both beguiling and frustrating, The Ascension is complex, bold and oddly lovable.
Amind imponderable grief, a creative triumph.
Ultimately, what redeems Letter To You from notions of idealised nostalgia is the rigour of its performances, particularly those of Springsteen himself, who for the second successive album is in the singing form of his life.
The Slow Rush proves the rewards of taking time; Kevin Parker is an artist worthy of yours.
Within its quintessential 40-minute-album parameters, Summerlong inexorably sucks the listener into its groove.
It Is What It Is feels understated, but more powerful for this restraint.