Give the best pieces here — i.e. the first six tracks — some fair time on good headphones and it’s disturbing in the best and strangest ways: a pitch-black digital blanket for fierce but dying contempt and sorrow.
Zauner’s sophomore LP not only showcases her skill in experimentation (using harpsichord and Auto-Tune), but her myriad influences, at times recalling the best of Spiritualized’s magnificent Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.
Where Saturation feels more upfront, II feels more mischievous, a willingness to twist things to their own perception.
I could fruitlessly compare it to its spiritual predecessor all day, but I’ll say this instead: if you compiled every other album The Magnetic Fields has released since 1999 into one 55-track album, 50 Song Memoir would absolutely blow it out of the water.
No Shape feels more celebratory than any Perfume Genius record to date; that celebration often runs deliciously wild.
These are National songs, and there are certain expectations; but Sleep Well Beast just finds the band meeting them with a consistency not seen since Boxer.
A handful of superb records have already been released in 2017. Pure Comedy’s scope, ambition, and beauty herald something bigger: the year’s first great album.
At its core, Flower Boy looks inward. Underneath the hardened, immature exterior lies an impressionable psyche that pines to be understood.
Rowe admits she’s no idea what she’s doing when it comes to being an artist, but CTRL doesn’t suggest this at all. Rather it shows someone with a novel prose and delivery who uses these tools to explore music in ways those before her were unable to do.
The band retains its core strengths (pillowtalk vocals, echoing, urbane guitar lines) while expanding its sonic reach and stretching for the bleacher seats. It’s an excellent and surprisingly comforting way to begin 2017.
A Deeper Understanding is the best indie rock record of the year and in many ways, the best record in general. It is comforting and compelling in its confidence.
It’s the first album in Kendrick Lamar’s discography where tracks can more readily be taken individually. And yet, given the talent of the artist in question, and the producers he’s pulled in, this one is no less ambitious and rewarding than some of his previous entries.
This is Big Fish Theory in its basest form: A truly progressive, existential, emotionally saturated hip-hop album that establishes the value of dance-centric collaboration by reminding us that it’s exactly that.
American Dream represents a high point for Murphy, not only as a songwriter, but also as a meticulous sonic architect and an exuberant performer.
MASSEDUCTION joins Grimes’ Art Angels and Lorde’s Melodrama as the inverse of a traditional pop album, one that undercuts the very genre it lifts. St. Vincent has consolidated, digested, and now transcended her former styles. What’s left is an artist reframing the landscape, a reverse-chameleon who can’t camouflage, but transforms the world around her instead.