Alex Cameron, “Miami Memory”
Though he spent his last two albums examining despicable male characters, this one spotlights and elevates women.
Iggy Pop, “Free”
If Iggy Pop hasn’t been free this whole time, who the fuck has?
Lana Del Rey, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!”
A cool, cutting chronicler of all things California.
Sleater-Kinney, “The Center Won’t Hold”
They remain faithfully yours in taut, ruthless, uncompromising rock and roll.
Bon Iver, “i,i”
Central to it all is a Justin Vernon with an altered disposition, more confident and looser—at times, he even sounds content.
Sigur Rós, “Ágætis Byrjun 20th Anniversary Edition”
Indefinable, refined, and weirdly universal.
Khruangbin, “Hasta El Cielo”
Their music, which favors beats and atmosphere over songwriting, make them an ideal fit for the dub treatment.
Thom Yorke, “Anima”
“Anima” goes to great lengths to differentiate itself from Radiohead’s oeuvre.
The Raconteurs, “Help Us Stranger”
Their third album may feel almost like a tonic for those befuddled by last year’s bizarro-world “Boarding House Reach.”
Madonna, “Madame X”
Though she’s always better when she’s just having fun, Madonna constantly yearns to be more poignant.
Bill Callahan, “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest”
While so much of Callahan’s past songwriting has felt like poetic exercise, this time autobiography shines through.
Bruce Springsteen, “Western Stars”
Springsteen has fused his Asbury Park roots with his rambling man esprit, and brought the whole family out to the Hills of Beverly.
Tyler, the Creator, “IGOR”
The heart of “IGOR” deals with lust and obsession—a spectrum of desire requiring listeners to think long and hard about the reality of a relationship.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Dedicated”
It’s fun, it’s frivolous, it’s insightful.
The National, “I Am Easy to Find”
There are fewer layers, less fireworks; every part coalesces quietly.
Mac DeMarco, “Here Comes the Cowboy”
The singer-songwriter notes that he’s long been fascinated with the cowboy mythos, which captures both the freedom and the solitude of life on the great open frontier.
Vampire Weekend, “Father of the Bride”
This is Vampire Weekend’s “White Album”—all its baroque catchiness and experimentation in one not-so-neat double LP package.
The Cranberries, “In the End”
There is a haunted quality to any music released after the person who created it is no longer counted among the living.