For all the different genres it consumes and spits back, it sounds like no other band on earth.
They've slicked up their Seventies ideal, with a big FM-radio sound built on string sections, processed vocals, glockenspiels and vintage synths.
Emily's D+Evolution is a far more ambitious and thornier affair. The lyrics, flowing in disjunctive clusters, are about deleted narratives, glass ceilings and dreams deferred – ultimately a complex, funky prog-rock concept opera about love and identity.
On his awesomely gnarled 17th solo album, he plays the low-rent elder statesman, a spectacularly scuzzball Leonard Cohen still snarling, still hoping to get his rocks off.
The Monkees' first album in nearly 20 years is also their best since the Sixties – to be precise, since the Head soundtrack in 1968.
Along with its return to bedrock sounds, the album seems especially shaped by the Midwestern-ness that's always defined the Chicago-based crew.
Whether she's high as fuck ("Influence") or stranded on the dance floor ("WTF Love Is"), she thrives on the power of losing yourself in sounds you can dominate and emotions you'll never contain.
Raitt is as bold and sharp on Dig In Deep, made with her longtime road band.
The mostly epic-length tracks – almost entirely written by drummer Lars Ulrich and singer-guitarist James Hetfield – are melodically assured furies of serial riffing and tempo shocks.
What can at times sound facile in its un-coded repugnance deepens, on repeated listens, into both sophisticated political statement and haunting music.
She roughs up the piano she once played prettily, endows her vocal exertions with more church than ever, and leans into a solid old-school hip-hop backbone fortified in large part by her husband Swizz Beatz.
One of the most timeless rap groups ever has returned with a record that doesn't sound like 1996, but doesn't sound like 2016 either. It's imbued with the same feeling of "Push It Along" that they've had from the beginning.
Freetown Sound is one deep avant-pop mixtape, a masterpiece of composition, curation and choreography addressing present-day black art and experience while refusing limits at every turn.
Sailor's Guide is classic album length – nine songs, 39 minutes – and best heard in one sitting; this is Nashville craft less as pop science than as expansive headphone storytelling.
As bawdy and unpredictable as anyone is in their first puberty, Puberty 2 shows Miyawaki indulging her whims with a devil-may-care attitude – the result is an incendiary self-portrait.
With his long-awaited third album, Vernon completely breaks from his guitar-hugging persona, leaving it in the woods like a Coen brothers corpse as he flexes a mastery of processed vocals, samples, loops, beats, synths and noise, along with more familiar trappings.
Midwest Farmer's Daughter is the first full-on country release on Third Man, the Nashville based label run by suspect carpetbagger Jack White, and dude was smart to wait ‘til he had an act this undeniable.
Although Cave still writes safely from the perspective of characters on Skeleton Tree's eight songs, the grief on each track is undeniably and uniquely his own.
While Atrocity Exhibition is stuffed like a piñata with colorful addictions ... its also teeming with the isolation, paranoia and regrets you could expect from a rap album named after a Joy Division song.
The album's rambling, vaguely emo title is a giveaway: Despite opening big, bright and airtight, I Like It When You Sleep ... gets boring-melty during dream-gaze reveries like "Please Be Naked" and "Lostmyhead."
Human Performance is the first album you could describe as your typical Parquet Courts record – it gathers their best tricks in one place, along with new ones you wouldn't see coming.
The Nashville star's most ambitious LP, a range-y two-disc set ditching country's mainstream playbook for the sort of Great Album rock acts used to spit out regularly back in the day.
Revolution Radio isn't just hot nostalgia. It reflects decades of accrued emotional and musical wisdom.
As usual it's Thug's own sound that predominates: the heroic howls, rasps, mumbles and wheezes of a man who is as captivating a vocalist as any in pop.
Following a string of records that have each felt like a swan song, You Want It Darker may be Cohen's most haunting LP.
It's a labored-over opus that wishes it were a mixtape, trying hard to curate the vibe of a sprawling mess, and that's because it's made by an artist who feels like a mess and doesn't care to hide it.
If Radiohead have made the dehumanizing effects of technology their great theme, A Moon Shaped Pool is the first record in which, musically, they kick their way out of the machine, or at least make their cyborg soul more vestigial.
Reaching back to the very beginning of black music in America, Chance recontextualizes one of the most enduring African-American art forms for 2016's most urgent one.
This album represents Bowie's most fulfilling spin away from glam-legend pop charm since 1977's Low. Blackstar is that strange, and that good.
Lemonade is an entire album of emotional discord and marital meltdown, from the world's most famous celebrity; it's also a major personal statement from the most respected and creative artist in the pop game.