Freetown Sound certainly has the sprawl, hyperactivity, and potential of a personal masterwork, but its master is more conduit and conductor than confessor.
It's easy to chastise aging pop stars for chasing trends or trying to recapture past glories, but those efforts here are thrown into sharp relief by the maturity of the album's first half.
Lady Wood is admirably lean and tightly focused, and though it doesn’t boast confessionals on the order of Like a Prayer‘s, it offers a peek inside the psyche of a smart, burgeoning young star.
It's the sound an artist, whose mysterious and celebrated process has ironically created theatrical and curated work to this point, finally achieving subtlety.
Even beyond the chances Simpson takes, A Sailor's Guide to Earth remains a sonically stunning album.
Strange Little Birds emerges as the band's most compelling, adventurous album in 15 years.
By eschewing the harsh, dubstep-influenced EDM of her past two albums and embracing subtler pop and R&B sounds, Britney's made her most daring, mature album in years.
The culmination of 50 years of moody, often melancholic music, You Want It Darker stands out as the musical equivalent thereof, a wry reckoning of a lifetime's worth of damaged relationships, upheld vows, and broken promises from pop's preeminent emotional accountant.
Cave and the Bad Seeds have been responsible for a lot of great albums, but nothing they've ever released matches Skeleton Tree's sonic cohesion, consistent front-to-back quality, or gut-level resonance.
Blackstar is defiantly a thing of its own, allowing Bowie to revisit his career-spanning, paradoxical fears—either that his life is ending imminently, or that it never will—with fascinating new sounds.
Lemonade, is her most lyrically and thematically coherent effort to date, taking a concept—the breakup album—as old as the LP itself, and reinventing it in both presentation and narrative.
While A Moon Shaped Pool offers little in the way of new sonic territory, its newly naked and incisive portrayal of emotional vulnerability remains a resoundingly major achievement.