Ultimately, Big Balloon probably won't gain them many new fans, but while the album suffers just a tad from relentless busy-ness, its proggy ambition combines with Wallis' penchant for gently ambitious, catchy melodies to make a creative work very few artists are capable of achieving.
With their new album, In Mind, the band aren't reinventing the wheel, but they're expanding their canvas a bit.
Simply put, this is the best dream/jangle-pop debut since ... Oshin and an absolute must for fans of this genre.
The songwriting and playing here are more assured than their legendarily ramshackle live shows would lead one to believe.
Complex layered production and funky beats jump off in different directions mixing autotune with tracked voices, everything zeroing back in on the trauma of love lost and love obliterated.
Beyond the hushed sounds of the record, Byrne, for the most part, is not timid but in possession of a rich confidence.
The Weather still ends up being a satisfying psych-rock listen, mostly because the band successfully plays with so many different flavors.
This time diminished seems an apt description for an album that feels smaller and more compact, lacking the glorious floating extravagances of the past.
Whereas their first album kept things a touch too refined, on their long-awaited sophomore release Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, Reid and company enhance their songcraft to stunning, impressive effect.
With This Old Dog, his distinctly DeMarco brand of baroque-infused folk is still built for the pauses in life but it feels a little steadier, and a little more self-aware.
In the scheme of things, Weather Diaries may only be the band's third best LP; however, when it's coming in behind Nowhere and Going Blank Again, two of the most worshiped discs of the shoegaze era, deserving mention within the same breath is no small feat.
While Humanz is the biggest departure Gorillaz has yet attempted, it is also their biggest grower.
If last year's Singing Saw had the pace and feel of going down river, City Music has that of heading down the avenue. Morby vacillates in both settings comfortably, claiming them as his element.
Silver Eye mesmerizes and dazzles with intricate and hypnotic electronic foundations adorned with waves of creative melodies and waiflike vocals that will melt your ears.
Home Counties has much to offer in the way their greatest records always have-infectious hits, interesting soundscapes, nods to musical history, all under the sprawling umbrella of pop.
Granted the Londoner's already got a strong track record, with his defining work from Hot Chip and The 2 Bears, but his second solo album is taking those heights and magnifying them, as we are ricocheted between smoky soul, verdant groove, and tantalizing pop-electronica.
At this point, they have their formula down. That formula is, of course, a dozen or so power-pop gems, mostly written by Newman and occasionally sung by the golden-throated Neko Case.
With an evolved new collection of tracks that are both hot and smart, Little Dragon has set themselves further apart.
Throughout the album you can still hear the band's penchant for complex arrangements, dreampop vocals, and the call and response storytelling between Oliver Sim and Romy Croft. No genre is off limits for the U.K. outfit: the band experiments with pop, R&B, jazz, and even gospel this time around.
The funneled, slow churning, sample drum-loop rhythms and translucent sheets of filtered guitar, horns, and keys deepen the dimensions where reflections can loiter.
Cmpositionally Elbow sounds more refreshed than they have since The Seldom Seen Kid, and hopefully Little Fictions is a signal of the beginning of a new creative phase.
Hot Thoughts is no game-changer, and the band risks sounding as safe as Coldplay at times ... Sometimes taking a risk for pop can sound like no risk at all, especially with a band that sounds as effortless as Spoon.
While there isn't a song as massive as "Seasons (Waiting on You)," Future Islands haven't plateaued; they've managed a follow-up record that can look their best work in the eye.
Their latest, Volcano, practically sheds the skin of their earlier approach, with the band leaning on their melodic strengths to emerge with a largely new identity that also seems a surprisingly natural fit.
While there's no viral hit like "1234" on Pleasure, Feist exhibits some of her best work with just her vocals and a guitar.
Snapping with flashlight disco, percussive tropicalia, palpable visuals, and devastating pomp, Jens Lekman opens the curtains to life's generous swimming pool with his signature singular musical contemplation and invites us to splash around on the ebullient Life Will See You Now.
There are simultaneous moments of pure beauty and pain, as there have been throughout Perfume Genius' work. Only now perhaps the songs don't search for beauty in suffering, but in vitality despite it.
It's an impressive return for a band that set the bar high years ago and continue to clear it with ease.
That the album sounds like no one else is a high compliment—no one else comes close to touching Fleet Foxes in this type of music, and the moments the band creates on Crack-Up are some of the finest you'll find on any record this year.
When listening to something as beautifully made and heart wrenching as Big Thief's penetrating sophomore album, Capacity, you are taken somewhere beyond the physical, whether walking or sitting or lying down, moving or motionless.
This is a pointedly unhip album, and that's part of what makes it so refreshing. Few other artists would embark on a project so absurdly lavish in fear that one wrong step would result in curdled cheese; Foxygen, thankfully, aren't so damn afraid.
In its entirety, the ambition and scope of the project is matched by the combined talent and imagination of four musical friends whose association seemed to just emerge from the ether.
Pure Comedy raises the stakes, moving from an already ambitious personal concept album to a wider exploration of what it means to be human. His trademark lyrics remain; full of intimate observation and wry humor, but the scope has blown out of all proportion. In lesser hands it could have become unwieldy and pretentious. Tillman is simply too good for that.