Throughout, the album’s 14 tracks unravel into convoluted tangles of disembodied voices, discordant jazz piano, and droning synths.
Composed of two-minute fragments that function as snapshots of his dim view of humanity, Vince Staples is another microcosmic release from the rapper, his leisurely approach suggesting a newfound confidence.
Originating as a quintet schooled in modal jazz, Squid’s transformation into post-punk disruptors is indicative of a band that relentlessly bucks against their limits. To hear them ply their craft on Bright Green Field, the album represents a crystallization of that impulse.
Like Eilish and Lorde before her, Rodrigo possesses both a knack for stealthy pop hooks and a vocal control beyond her years. And even if Sour doesn’t quite transcend its myriad influences, it might at least inspire her fans to Google the Piano Man.
With Little Oblivions, Baker upgrades her erstwhile folk style to accommodate a harder rock approach, though lyrically she’s as vulnerable as ever.
The album is an ambitious, dizzying jumble of genres and tones, held together on the power of the singer’s beguiling voice and charisma.
Sinner Get Ready is driven by a penetrative imagination, a preternatural sense of empathy, and an innate awareness of the paradoxical nature of human existence.
‘Far In’ highlights Helado Negro’s knack for constructing minimally psychedelic but seductively melodic soundscapes.
Though the War on Drugs may take a slightly more straightforward approach on I Don’t Live Here Anymore than they have in the past, they still find new ways to engage with complex arrangements. The result is a nimble balancing act of accessible pop-rock anthems and experimental soundscapes.
With Donda, he’s crafted his most unforgiving self-portrait yet, one that, like the best works that plumb a person’s inner depths, winds up reflecting our collective imperfections.
Robinson mostly keeps his promise to pursue new sounds on Nurture, with mixed results.
The Horses and the Hounds proves that McMurtry’s nearly peerless ability to tear our hearts out with a good yarn hasn’t waned a bit.
The songs on the Killers’s Pressure Machine take their sweet time unfurling, luxuriating in subtle details.
She eschews the disempowerment that characterized her debut, instead considering her history and default patterns while displaying a matter-of-fact melancholia. If Lush presented a snapshot of a particular mindset, a woman trapped in a psychological limbo, Valentine captures the blurry nature of an inquiry still in progress.
Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power thrillingly homes in on notions of self and identity.
Torres’s fifth album, Thirstier, straddles the line between art pop and art rock.
It takes profound empathy to write an entire album about your own past and have it turn out to be about your love for others instead.
As narrative fiction and songwriting, it’s a masterpiece of construction and control. And having both the unabridged and the condensed versions of the song for direct comparisons testifies to Swift’s newfound capacity to revise herself.
Courtney Barnett’s Things Take Time, Take Time captures something true and profound about how we relate to the world and each other.
The songs on Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever seamlessly trace the singer’s path to happiness, or something close to it.
Daddy’s Home is slicker and more professional—and resultantly, more conventional—than anything she’s released to date. And yet, the album’s pitch-perfect ‘70s-retro stylings and testy lyrical themes are just as challenging as anything on 2011’s Strange Mercy.