12. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
It also feels like an album that’s been allowed time to gestate: despite being virtually veteran in buzzband terms, they have benefitted from beefing up their sound on tour – as evidenced on the heavy romance of Your Loves Whore, the dirty degenerate chug of You’re a Germ, or the cinematic Turn to Dust. The awkward introversion in the lyrics – which deal with relationship strife, creepy blokes, friendship, gender and the quest for eternal love – add a sense of emotional overload driven by late nights, blood pacts and wide-eyed wonder. It’s an invigorating debut with a gaunt, gallant identity of its own.
– Harriet Gibsone, The Guardian
11. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
Howard and the band of brothers who understand her so well remind us of who was really exiled on rock’s main street — brown women, as she’s described herself, “everything and nothing” — while developing a vision that reaches high but remains practical in its reclamation of what just plain works. As they grow toward a greatness that does away with others’ assumptions, these proud freaks stay grounded. That’s what’s going to make the Alabama Shakes last.
– Ann Powers, NPR Music
10. FKA Twigs – M3LL155X
…the music is spacious, paranoid and sultry; the lyrics are suggestive and knotted. The songs lack centers, or even hooks, and aren’t easily assimilated, but unmistakable themes emerge: Through a feverish haze of sounds and sights, M3LL155X asks big questions about femininity, sex and power…
– Kris Ex, Billboard
09. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style
The new recordings retain their rough edge, but there’s luminescence in the production—the percussion is crisper, the guitars are brighter, and Toledo’s singing is a lot more pronounced. The effect is an album that’s bookish, but not sedentary. He sells abstruse metaphors and lyrical concepts with every ounce of himself, like failing to do so would mean the end of the world.
– Jeremy Gordon, Pitchfork
08. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
This warped, lovely album suggests that a true longtime partnership isn’t two people who love each other even for their flaws, but of two people accepting decay — their own and each other’s — and choosing to ride it out nonetheless.
– Jon Caramanica, The New York Times
07. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
The raw nerves feeding this twenty-year-old’s confessional songwriting can be overwhelming, but there’s also much consideration and grace in her voice as she takes on loneliness, self-loathing, skin hunger and her insistent God’s grace.
– Ann Powers, NPR Music
06. Grimes – Art Angles
Boucher herself has come out to claim her music as genre-less, but the Art Angels incarnation of Grimes is through-and-through Frankenstein pop, influenced by so many irresistible sounds – K-pop, house, cutting edge electronic, classic rock and power-pop, even – smashed together, somehow coming out just the right way . . . Art Angels is a major victory for deep weird.
–Matt Williams, NOW
05. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
Once her voice cuts in, she takes this grating sound and places a heartbreakingly beautiful melody on top. This juxtaposition of ugliness and beauty has been Crutchfield’s calling card since the release of the lo-fi, acoustic album American Weekend. As past releases have proved she’s an expert at lyrical despondence, but Ivy Tripp shows the music can finally be stark enough to match.
– David Anthony, A.V. Club
04. Torres – Sprinter
Tunnels of reverb, claustrophobic ostinatos, and Mackenzie Scott’s menacing alto swirl together as pressure builds and emotions like fear, confusion, despair, and tentative flashes of hope incubate inside these charged sonic environments.
– Annie Galvin, Pop Matters
03. Beach House – Depression Cherry
There’s a bloom in the dark. It’s the way grief makes everything sharp. It’s the way loss is built into everything we wish was eternal. The pleasure we take in the very tragic, especially when it happens to us. Life assumes an odd logic during its most jagged points; there’s something familiar — almost welcome — in the turmoil. Beach House’s music has always pinpointed that marvelous sadness. Their fifth album is also their saddest to date. Wounded, weighty dream-pop for the loss of loss itself, for the gray calm after the nightmare.
– Caitlin White, Stereogum
02. PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries
“Why are you so handsome, gaymazing, and nice?” asks Hopkins of a lover on the record’s closing track. It’s the kind of question that might have been impossible to ask in a non-ironic way back in 1994 and it’s exactly the kind of thing that makes Ugly Cherries such a special listen. The record is not only catchy as all hell, but it’s also sweet and openhearted and not one bit cynical. It’s a queer record to be sure, but mostly it’s just a really fun rock record—and one would hope that at this point in time, those two things shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.
– T. Cole Rachel, Pitchfork
01. Jamie xx – In Colour
But what makes “In Colour” captivating is its sense of innocent discovery; it’s nostalgic but never world-weary, reverent toward the past but hopeful that something new can be built out of its raw materials.
. . .
Amid the album’s frenzied moments of communion and dazed connection, it also seems to describe the uncomplicated bliss of listening to music with other people—whether it’s a soul mate or a room full of strangers.
– Hua Hsu, The New Yorker