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This year has already given us an emo-pop opus from Halsey, a welcome comeback from the Strokes, killer country from the Secret Sisters, an optimistic Future record, and great releases from up-and-coming artists like Moses Sumney, Beach Bunny, and Shake. By the fourth installment, most pop-culture franchises can start to seem pretty tired. RTJ4 , which the band rush-released a few days ahead of schedule, is laser-focused, as if Mike and El-P are trying to outrun the apocalypse. Mike unloads on racist cops, systemic poverty, corporate media, and other eternal enemies. But the album never feels preachy, because the music bounces as much as it brays, with an elastic flow and deep history. Incredibly, Dua Lipa is successful: The upbeat album that she decided to release a week earlier than planned is the perfect balm for a stressful time. Another apocalypse, another side of Bob Dylan. The man really knows how to pick his moments.
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Fri 20 Dec Those sounds are more than just another layer of Americana cosplay: her obsession with American archetypes, once dismissed as superficial, has matured into an acute understanding of how they are created and frustration at what they conceal. A subtly defiant assertion that Del Rey is here for the long haul, no matter what. Laura Snapes Read the full review. Until this year, rapper Dave was a singles artist — he managed 11 before his debut album was released — but Black marked a sea change: serious, reflective and grown-up. An absentee father, a sibling in prison his brother Christopher is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the killing of Sofyen Belamouadden , a burgeoning, pressurised music career — it all gets mixed into an urban opera that plays out intensely, and internally. Lanre Bakare Read the full review. Alexis Petridis Read the full review. But it summoned to mind that strain of 80s pop when older musicians would reach the top end of the charts with sophisticated, modern records that used production techniques from records for teenagers, and applied them to songs unmistakably written about adult life. It was alive with possibility.
T he most compelling albums released this year include three Brits with vastly different sounds, a year-old Angeleno and an elder statesman of the New York underground rap world. Almost all of them deal, in one way or another, with the current moment of global anxiety—whether directly protesting authority figures or offering an escape valve. Cast your vote in the reader poll. While New York, Los Angeles and Chicago still predictably serve as homes to flourishing jazz scenes, a city across the pond has emerged as a hotbed for cutting-edge musicianship: London. Diverse, inspired appearances from the Los Angeles singer Georgia Anne Muldrow, the Nigerian-British Afrobeat star Obongjayar and the London rapper Jehst all serve as testaments to the flourishing breadth and intensity of the music of the modern black diaspora. Powerfully, Straus has openly embedded her sexuality in her music from the start, turning simple love songs into statements of queer identity and rallying cries for contemporary romance. Like many other enduring artists, Bon Iver has used each of his albums to explore a new sonic world. He started with modest acoustic strumming arrangements For Emma, Forever Ago , expanded into horn-driven stadium rock Bon Iver , then swerved into the digital world with autotuned maximalism 22, A Million. There are lulling campfire songs and gritty rock grooves, frenetic jazz saxophones and menacing trap drums. Variation can be a death knell for artists, signaling indecision or lack of focus.