There's a depth of feeling to the levity on Power Up, as if the band decided that the best way to pay respect to what they've lost is by focusing on what they still have. They don't dwell upon the past, they barrel forward with a set of turbocharged blues and high-octane rock that doesn't merely sound good, it feels nourishing.
These tight, explosive songs combine a refined poetic lyric approach in songwriting and arranging that's every bit as urgent as the album's two predecessors, yet it's so emotionally charged, it leaves the listener breathless and exhausted, as well as compelled and excited.
Managing to be uniquely stylized and engrossing while stripped bare, Whole New Mess not only works in isolation, it deserves equal footing in Olsen's discography.
With her sophomore album, 2020's magical and earthy Cha Cha Palace, singer/songwriter Angelica Garcia embraces her family's Mexican and Salvadoran roots, crafting an explosive collage out of her varied influences.
He turns the notion of the cohesive urbano statement into a sprawling 20-track mix of styles, production techniques, and completely accessible hooks in a work of peerless musical invention.
Written from the heart and dredged from pop music's boneyard, Shortly After Takeoff feels like the album Christinzio has been working toward his whole career.
Rough and Rowdy Ways is akin to transformational albums such as Love and Theft, and Slow Train Coming. It's a portrait of the artist in winter who remains vital and enigmatic. At nearly 80, Dylan's pen and guitar case still hold plenty of magic.
Blue Hearts is a cry of purifying anger in a dark time, and its heat produces a truly necessary light; it's one of the very best solo albums Mould has given us to date.
Subtlety is her strength and that skill is still evident in her witty, elegant turns of phrase, but the distinguishing characteristic of Your Life Is a Record is warmth. From its enveloping sound to its empathetic tales, the album feels openhearted and comforting, a sensibility that helps the record seem charmingly out of step with the times.
Glover is fearless and definitely not afraid to fall flat in the quest for something new or real. 3.15.20 is both of those things and is the second classic, timeless and timely Childish Gambino record in a row.
While it evidently came together quicker and was shaped more by outsiders ... the Baileys' second album is really a refinement of and progression from The Kids Are Alright.
Like its predecessor, Sex, Death, & the Infinite Void treats naval-gazing like a spectator sport, with each death-obsessed narrative resolving into a gang-vocal crescendo of stale cigarette smoke and beer-can-crushing outsider solidarity.
Flipping her hair at detractors with a wink and a smile on "Future Nostalgia," she sings, "You want a timeless song/I wanna change the game." With this flawless effort, she manages to achieve both.
It's rare to listen to a pop album and have no idea what comes next, and Fetch the Bolt Cutters delivers surprises that delight and bruise at a rapid pace.
As a collection, Shore emits a sense of coming through something and arriving anew with the welcome bruises that foster greater understanding and compassion.
Sprawling and intimate, breezy and affecting, Women in Popular Music III is a low-key triumph.
While there's certainly an audible sense of collaboration on Petals for Armor, it's Williams' ability to turn her dark, personal moments into anthems of survival that stick with you.
Pulling out all the stops for an expansive statement of self, in EDNA the Tottenham great provides an impeccable portfolio of his varied sonics, concretizing his place among London's finest.
The fact these songs seem so telling in a strange and difficult time has a bit to do with coincidence, but more important is the excellence of Isbell's songwriting.
The vocalist and producer Juliana Barwick’s revelatory new album asks us to picture healing at a moment when the task feels impossible.
Much like its monochromatic predecessors, Descendants of Cain proves an exceptional listen. Pairing Ryan’s sublime lyricism with organic production and a precisely constructed concept, the MC’s fifth project is a superb statement piece from one of rap’s most ingenious poets.
A stunning achievement, with Loom Gately beautifully honors her mother as well as her commitment to uncompromising music.
Khruangbin's music can still work as an ebullient, sun-baked soundtrack to daily activities, social gatherings, or cross-country road trips, but their songs have gotten more expressive and soul-searching, and Mordechai rewards closer listening more than any of their previous recordings.
Fifteen albums into her illustrious career, the pop chameleon shows no signs of slowing down, rebooting her catalog once again with what she does best: delivering joy and inspiration through the power of dance.
Maybe she's lost her appetite to be a weird provocateur, but she has learned how to sharpen and stylize her attack, and that focus makes Chromatica one of her most consistent and satisfying albums.
If Laura Marling's Grammy-nominated standout, Semper Femina, signified a mid-career watershed, her 2020 follow-up, Song for Our Daughter, finds the Londoner moving through a subtler, though equally vital evolution replete with sharpened observations and a gripping sense of vulnerability.
There are many layers in Miss Colombia's 11 vivid tracks, all of which are well-worth exploring.
Private Lives is the richest rock & roll Low Cut Connie have made to date and it's married to Weiner's most emotionally resonant set of songs, a combination that's both potent and moving.
There's a confidence in her vocal performances that reflects the album's spirit: She's comfortable following her obsessions and idiosyncrasies to their logical end, resulting in a record that comforts and challenges in equal measure.
The wordless storytelling of Silver Ladders is one of its most intriguing elements, pulling emotional gravity from expert arrangement of minimal sounds.
While this volume of Canto por Mexico is offered as a benefit recording, it is wonderfully representative of Lafourcade's late-2010s work that has focused deeply on Mexico's musical traditions. Highly recommended.
White-Gluz controls her songs with a steady hand and a crystalline vision on Motherhood, and takes No Joy's always-restless creative spark to unimaginable new places.
Source, with its adventurous, kinetic, and sophisticated approach in wedding modern composition, improvisation, and production to rhythmic and harmonic traditions, is one of the very best.
Equally challenging and comforting, Magic Oneohtrix Point Never just might be the album that moves listeners who appreciated, but didn't fully embrace, his previous music.
All the nuances of desire that Hadreas explores on Set My Heart on Fire, Immediately enhance the individuality of each song, as well as his own individuality -- and as he honors every part of his music and himself, he gives listeners another rich, densely packed album to savor.
As both a symbolic avatar for her life changes and a strong empowerment statement, I Disagree celebrates Poppy's rebirth as a pop-metal alchemist and unabashed rule-breaker.
From start to finish, Róisín Machine is cohesive and spellbinding. Murphy truly is a machine in her consistent creativity, and this is a particularly well-oiled example of her brilliance.
On this stunning debut, Sawayama captures Dua Lipa's future nostalgia and Poppy's metal-meets-pop savvy, rightfully making it her own with more depth, bigger thrills, and a limitless palette.
Much like reality, the raw and unflinching RTJ4 is a lot to take in, both a balm for the rage and fuel to keep the fire burning. Although eerily prescient, RTJ4 is less prophetic and more a case of deja vu, addressing the endemic issues of a broken country that sadly continue.
At once dazzling and heartfelt, Shabrang is an epic journey, and Sevdaliza is brilliantly in control throughout it.
We Are Sent Here by History is final proof that Hutchings is a modern jazz prophet; he sees the past as merely a jumping-off point for exploration, not only in music but in philosophical concepts, cultural theories, and spiritual precepts as an aesthetic.
Heart's Ease goes further, revealing she's still a vital performer and an artist willing to explore new and unfamiliar territory, suggesting a more interesting future than listeners might have imagined.
Though the songs here aren't quite as immediately infectious as Clean, its combination of deceptively warm surfaces, alluring melodies, and subtly distorted textures reward repeat listens with that sense of discovery.
The album's a comeback that once again makes Tame Impala an artistic force equal to their commercial appeal.
Combined, the moodier, contemplative tone and the emphasis on songs that can't be parsed as autobiography make folklore feel not like a momentary diversion inspired by isolation but rather the first chapter of Swift's mature second act.
Following years of ups and downs -- both as a unit and, for Flowers, as a supportive husband -- Imploding the Mirage feels like more than just one of their best albums, but a triumphant and invigorated rut-reversal that shines with a hard-won confidence.
While it's just as thought-provoking as the Soft Pink Truth's other albums, there's something magical in how the emotional dimensions and deep beauty of Shall We Go on Sinning So That Grace May Increase? reaffirm that positivity and creativity are the most powerful weapons against hate and darkness.
Full of passion, commitment, and creativity, The New Abnormal marks the first time in a while that the Strokes have made truly exciting music.
L'Ère du Verseau completes the process and then some with the result being the most streamlined, deepest sounding, and most powerful album they've made yet.
Previously, Tumor has stated that they want to make songs listeners need to play. They more than achieve that on Heaven to a Tortured Mind, an album that suggests the easiest way to define Tumor is as an artist who consistently outdoes themself.