The album winds up feeling like the first in Newsom’s catalog that won’t be considered a classic, but it’s proof that a sturdy, thought-provoking, and rewarding record doesn’t necessarily need to stand next to her past work to find its own greatness.
Few acts ever manage to bottle up that crude energy on record — sorry, Palma Violets — and yet White Reaper Does It Again brims with spit and sweat.
With Are You Alone?, Devon Welsh and Majical Cloudz find a way to exist within that gray, to thrive in it, to acknowledge the mortality and the chaos and the gray, and reach out a hand.
Despite a penchant for excess, FIDLAR never fully commits to one extreme, and the most interesting parts of Too come when the band struggles to contextualize the royal mess that is their lives.
While this record certainly echoes the who’s who of designer brands name-dropped on Long.Live.ASAP, A.L.L.A is Rocky’s “locked in the studio with a sheet of acid” record.
In short, the band has range, and Painted Shut is often rewarding musically.
The quartet’s debut album, Feels Like, is simultaneously youthful and weary, its bubblegum melodies punctured by Bognanno’s stark lyrics and abraded voice.
With HBHBHB, Welch has added a considerable amount of feeling to her catalog, and it should go down as one of the year’s most well-crafted personal statements.
DS2 is his strongest campaign yet, and it’s the first time a new Future album has met all expectations.
It should come as no surprise that follow-up b’lieve i’m goin down… finds Vile continuing to self-deprecate, amble, and sigh, despite the new tier of success. Neither should it be a surprise that all those qualities remain entirely charming.
The precise beauty of their production work, specifically the refusal to dump gratuitous instruments into the mix, places Magnifique at the top of Ratatat’s catalogue. Stroud and Mast let guitars beat at the album’s heart, and their balance of bubbly and peaceful elements ushers a return too fluid to ignore.
The tinted and tightly paced sophomore effort Sound & Color is an alluring musical rainbow that sets Alabama Shakes apart from niche throwbacks.
At nine songs and just over 36 minutes, Fading Frontier is a filler-free opus of experimental rock splendor that never lags and always intrigues. It’s pretty sharp for a noise or garage rock album with sleek bass lines and vibrant electronic add-ons.
The relative sparseness of melody makes Mutant slipperier than much of Arca’s older work, but the way he’s able to use texture and rhythm as his primary tools of progression is worth the patience it asks of us.
It might be one of the most in-the-moment albums ever made, as if Kozelek vomited words about everything that’s gone on his life since Benji right as it was all happening, kicked the ass of a few chords until they fit around the lyrics, called over Steve Shelley to lay down some drums, then cut it all to tape.
Platform is continuously emotive, although it never quite tops the peak of “Chorus”.
If You’re Reading concentrates the anger pocketed within NWTS’ moodiness. The result is more thrilling.
The specificity in the lyrics and the clarity of Standell-Preston’s voice gives the album an immediate human pull. Beneath that initial glitter, though, Braids have stockpiled a wealth of complexities like puzzles for us to untangle.
Because it’s loaded with guests, there’s a transparent curatorial awareness to Music Complete, one that’s surprisingly engaging and effective.
Emotion rolls out banger after banger, all while sustaining a remarkable level of complexity and compassion for everyone in Jepsen’s solar system.
Jesso writes with fragility at the forefront. The fact that he doesn’t realize how pure his songwriting is makes it that much better.
Its audacity and stylistic shifts may have resulted in an album that’s not quite as much like coming home as Sunbather, but it shows a genuine and fascinating maturation in a band that deserves to remain in the spotlight for all the right reasons.
Lady Lamb is a novelty in the flesh. It’s only Spaltro’s second time trying out the loftiness of a studio album, but After pushes her to refine and redesign with grace.
One of the most fully realized and confident debuts in recent memory, Natalie Prass is an expertly sequenced and executed work that transforms decades of American music tradition into something relevant to the 21st century.
Despite some of the fuzz and purposefully lo-fi studio tricks, they let the songs speak for themselves. As A Flourish and a Spoil proves, that’s all they need.
Expectations were exceedingly high for Grief’s Infernal Flower, and Windhand delivered a minor masterpiece and the best doom metal album of the year.
Vulnicura is smooth and whole, even as its singer lies shattered.
Intellect highlights the band’s strengths, with Casey’s melodies punching through some of the sturdiest rock and roll arrangements since The National emerged with Alligator and Boxer.
Over its 45 beautiful but tortured minutes, I Love You, Honeybear weaves a complicated narrative of love gained at the expense of the individual.
Sleater-Kinney are sick of the rules as they stand, but they don’t just want to break the rules; they want to make new ones. They could only do that by coming back together to reintroduce their own perspective and fight their own battle.
An artist of uncompromising power and originality, he has proven that he will not, cannot conform to the expectations of the music industry, his adoring fans, or anyone else. He is a delicate, impulsive genius of rare distinction, and this defiant streak is essential to the character of his music.
Each song grows richer the more you explore its open space. Its minimalism breathes buckets of color. After one listen or 10, In Colour reflects brightly, a phenomenally poised and universally approachable solo debut.
Currents is all about the wide lens. It’s not the landscape worth falling in love with, but the way Parker gives us a tour. Let it happen, and it will carry you off somewhere much further away than you realized was worth visiting.
After Visions, the only thing Grimes could do was to grow as big as the landscape around her. Here’s her mountain.
Carrie & Lowell isn’t a return to the tentative woodsy footprints of 2004’s Seven Swans. It’s an album hollowed by grief, as expansive as Adz but without the verve.