There is, after all, an inherent paradox facing any band at this stage in their career: remain stagnant and you'll risk being labelled tiring; stray too far and you may alienate the substantial following you've amassed over the years. Thankfully, the National have deftly manage that balancing act with Sleep Well Beast, a record that is equal parts familiar and fresh.
The xx largely avoided any major pitfalls here, coming out the other side with a consistently rewarding pop album that retains enough of their sonic signature to please old fans and enough new sounds to pique the interest of the unconvinced.
As musically fun and riff-heavy as it is lyrically direct and meaningful, Need to Feel Your Love is exactly the debut album fans wanted from Sheer Mag — not to mention one of the best of 2017 so far.
Rocket is a true tour de force that cements (Sandy) Alex G snugly in the company of indie rock's great auteurs.
On Wide Open, Weaves prove that they can flirt with convention without losing their edge.
With Crack-Up's earnest explorations of the human condition and evocative, progressive composition, Fleet Foxes maintain their status as one of the best folk rock bands of the 21st century.
Pure Comedy is packed with so much meaning and complexity, it feels as overwhelmingly absurd, joyous, curious, tragic, extraordinary and contradictory as life itself.
This time around ... all of the sonic elements have snapped into focus: the drums are booming, the guitar leads are vivid, and even the washes of synths are bright rather than bleary.
Clark promised us "sex and drugs and sadness" on MASSEDUCTION, and while that sounds like a recipe for clichéd disaster, she kept her word and managed to fashion a totally refreshing take in the process.
Everybody Works retains her economical songwriting while adding impressively intricate arrangements.
Baker is careful not to glorify life's darkest moments, and certainly doesn't on Turn Out the Lights. Rather, her candid portrayal of pain is a rare and beautiful gift.
For now, American Dream does exactly what a new LCD Soundsystem album should do: it brings back the rush that listening to the band always has, and adds a compelling new dimension to the band's sound — a mature, realist darkness that they'd only hinted at previously — that suggests Murphy might have been temporarily out of motivation, but he was never out of ideas.
Lorde is masterful at making music that digs within the deepest recesses of your heart and brings to the surface the feelings that you thought you'd forgotten about. Melodrama is the perfect outlet to hash (and dance) those emotions out to.
She's more than capable of penning a good tune, but Pleasure presents a unique, uncompromising vision of intimacy and enjoyment. True to its name, this is the sound of Feist fighting through the bullshit of being human to have a good time despite it all.