It all amounts to a constructed world that sounds outré at first but winds up being a startlingly astute reflection of our own as you settle into it.
Sun doesn't reach the heights ... of Moon Pix, but more than anything else she's made, it feels like a companion piece to that record, a conversation with an older and wiser voice.
Local Business also marks the first time the band seems like it's holding something back-- like there is a Plan B.
Open Your Heart is both tremendously physical and friendly, knocking you on your ass one second, then immediately helping you back up to put a beer in your hand.
AWLWLB is an example of building on and mastering the music you loved when you were younger-- something that became more than music, ultimately-- so that it has a chance to grow old with you without becoming any less vital.
Total Loss uses the common tools of pop expression-- four-minute songs, autobiography, choruses, confession-- to create a work of poignant and devastating art.
This is some of the the best music of the young decade; judging by its already pervasive influence, it's safe to say Trilogy (or at least House of Balloons) will be one of those records that will be viewed as a turning point when we look at the 2010s as a whole.
The textures and tones are distinctly different from past releases, but it's unimaginable that it could be made by anyone else.
Talabot builds upon his distinctive sound-- bursting with color, nostalgic but never retro, easy-going yet slightly unhinged-- without repeating himself.
Matters of mistrust, isolation, and uncomfortable togetherness dominate Tramp, rolling through every track like a sick, creeping fog.
Never before has his music possessed this much majesty, this much command, this much power
It's one thing to be heavy, and it's another thing to be hooky, but Slaughterhouse is the rare garage-rock album to do both so well simultaneously
He's still not entirely upfront, but he has a knack for building songs where the realness of his subject matter lies just below the surface.
For now, at least, NO LOVE DEEP WEB is an extraordinary outlier in most every sense, an album with no definitive home or home turf aside from the millions who will likely download it.
It's a meditation on positivity, a hedonistic joyride that isn't afraid to get deep, and a reminder that any band-- any album, any song-- can be your life, even for just a moment.
Mike Hadreas' work is not only satisfying on a purely musical level, it also feels of-the-moment and above all necessary
Born to Die attempts to serve as Del Rey's own beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy, but there's no spark and nothing at stake.
Spacious, boldly orchestrated, and emotionally rich, Khan's latest is another step forward for the multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, and one of the year's most beguiling albums.
It's not a drastic transformation as much as an acute refinement.
Devotion ... marries her natural gift with throbbing instrumentation that breathes life into every single turn of phrase or sensitive vocal embellishment.
Mature Themes is as vital as anything he's ever recorded
Port of Morrow, the Shins' fourth studio album in 11 years, is a triumphant return from a project that once risked being reduced to an indie-went-mainstream tagline.
Limiting himself to one producer, legends-only guest spots, and a real sense that he'd better make this one count, Killer Mike rises to the occasion.
Heaven feels infectiously drunk on its own good fortune and kicks out a barstool for you to drink alongside it.
The 10 songs on Confess operate only in power moves, the verses sneering, seducing, doing whatever they can to draw the listener in before every choruses ascends and explodes.
The success of (III) is how it brings you close enough to the evil that men do to be shocked, repulsed, and affected by it.
Tillman varies things up on Fear Fun, reveals an adventurous palette, and makes what may be his best album to date.
It's got some of his best pure songwriting yet, but no earth-cracking riffs.
The experience of Oshin is aqueous and amorphous in a way that makes using the term "rock" feel uncomfortable.
Nocturne is painted with the same colors as Gemini, but the resolution is much higher.
On Gossamer, Passion Pit recast themselves as polyglots and pacesetters, tackling the currency of pop music head-on as a competitor rather than admiring it with a few well-placed press quotes.
Centipede Hz, by comparison, feels like someone throwing a burrito on your windshield: The songs hit with a jolt, instantly splaying all their ingredients before you.
It's both overstuffed and messy, and so overworked that what life there may once have been now exists as a kind of primordial paste.
The most appealing thing about this record is that this band, having created a brilliant and moving sound, returns to it again for another 38 minutes.
While this might be Flying Lotus' most accessible record, it's less about being pleasant and more about deep focus.
It's not just a collection of hits; it's an album, one that gives the project's familiar nocturnal foreboding a new sense of grandeur.
Shrines is not about range, instead offering subtly different versions of a single, near-perfect idea.
It manages to expand on their sound while simultaneously summarizing everything they've ever recorded before.
An album of music that is both new and old from a band that we thought we might never hear from again, one we should appreciate while we can.
Attack on Memory is too visceral to feel like escapism, too vital to feel like cheap revival.
Sometimes this hands-off approach backfires, but Death Grips have actual designs to be left to, and The Money Store is a million-mph blur of ideas.
Swing Lo Magellan is a confident step into the spotlight that neither depends upon public expectations nor shies away from them.
The Idler Wheel's spareness does lend it an insular loneliness, one that's divorced from the outside world while also being intimately in-tune with its basic realities.
The first thing you take from Celebration Rock is just how much they've improved in terms of capturing pure sound, everything hitting louder and clearer than before.
Visions finds Boucher mining not just the clean brightness of Aphex Twin-like atmospherics but also the immediacy of straight-up mall-pop
"Bloom" is also what these 10 songs do, each one starting with the sizzle of a lit fuse and at some fine moment exploding like a firework in slow motion.
Though full of baroque, detail-rich production and latticework melodies, Shields also offers an emotionally resonant core.
The miracle of this album is how it ties straightforward rap thrills-- dazzling lyrical virtuosity, slick quotables, pulverizing beats, star turns from guest rappers-- directly to its narrative.
You feel small while listening to Lonerism, but in a way that makes you appreciate how man, machine, and Mother Nature can harmonize.
The 24-year-old has quickly proven himself to be among the most gifted singer-songwriters of his generation; he's got the type of voice, wit, charm, smarts, and ineffable humanity that's always hoped for, but never promised.