50. Bethany Cosentino - ‘Natural Disaster’
What We Said…
When she first broke through as the lead singer of Best Coast, an outfit known for reviving a classic surf-rock sound for the modern era, Bethany Cosentino was quickly dubbed as one of the more alluring names emerging in those initial years. Since then, Best Coast quickly cemented themselves as one of the more enticing names on the alternative scene, earning widespread and acclaim for their four studio albums to date. But now she looks to forge a new path for herself as she delivers her hotly-tipped debut solo LP 'Natural Disaster', a record that looks to adopt a more personal feel.
While much of Best Coast's material stuck firmly to a warm and woozy aesthetic, 'Natural Disaster' sounds more closely connected to Cosentino's own personal influences. Dabbling in a wide mix of country and blues-rock-inspired textures from start to finish, it feels like something completely different to what she has earned a reputation for in the past. Still brimming with a fresh and inventive pursuit, this new collection makes for a wonderfully fun and dynamic listen as she shines with passion and vigour as often as possible.
Although it may be a strong step away from her previous incarnation, Bethany Cosentino showcases some of her most alluring songwriting to date here. Venturing into an untapped reservoir of fresh and exciting concepts throughout, 'Natural Disaster' sits as one of her most assured and confident releases to date.
49. Oscar Lang - ‘Look Now’
What We Said…
Ever since he first emerged with his breakthrough debut EP 'Teenage Hurt' back in 2018, London's Oscar Lang has been seen as one of the more innovative names on the new music scene. Not one to keep his progressive nature to himself, he regularly adds his influence and songwriting prowess to others in his field, giving him this wildly diverse nature that bubbles with fresh and enticing ideas. And after a few months of buzz behind his recent efforts, he now returns to deliver his latest studio album 'Look Now', a record that keeps that adventurous invention alive once again.
Throughout this new outing, we hear Lang in one of his most ambitious and confident guises to date. From the very start, 'Look Now' looks to set him on this wonderfully broad and expansive sound that sees him push his creative pursuit as far as it will go. Dabbling in some beautifully arranged production that heightens his euphoric songwriting throughout, he has returned with not only a stunning batch of new material, but something that sees him set himself apart from almost everything else going on right now.
Oscar Lang has always been someone at the forefront of new and fascinating pop music, and 'Look Now' is just another prime example of his engaging spirit so far. With a bright and infectious aura running the length of this new LP, you'll find yourself struggling not to swept up by it all.
48. Flamingods - ‘Head Of Pomegranate’
What We Said…
Over the past decade or so, Flamingods have been seen as one of the more adventurous and unpredictable names doing the rounds. With a sound that likes to blend psychedelic ambitions with an Afro and Middle Eastern-inspired edge, they have spent many of the last few years building a distinctive sound for themselves that is still completely unique to them. And after a few years to figure out their next move, they return with their eagerly-awaited fifth studio album 'Head Of Pomegranate', a record brimming with vibrant innovation.
While the Flamingods sound has always had this larger-than-life quality to it, it feels like they are aiming even bigger and wider for their newest outing. From the very beginning, 'Head Of Pomegranate' explores a multitude of genres, everything from funk, soul, blues, disco, pop and everything in between, creating this wonderfully wild yet still succinct listen. And although there is this certain level of unknown around every corner, the four-piece go to great strides to make each track as engaging as the last, resulting in some brilliantly inviting gems here.
This new collection may have come after a four-year break for the group, but 'Head Of Pomegranate' shows they are still very much on top of their creative game. With such a flamboyant approach to their production and songwriting, they remain one of the UK's most beloved outfits.
47. Blonde Redhead - ‘Sit Down For Dinner’
What We Said…
Throughout much of the early 2000s, New York's Blonde Redhead were seen as one of the more innovative names on the indie-rock circuit. Originally grinding away through the mid to late 90s, their cult following quickly became mainstream appeal with their 2004 LP 'Misery Is A Butterfly', a release that would go onto establish them as one of the more enticing and exciting acts of the modern era. And after a suspended break from releasing new material since the 2014 outing 'Barragán', they are back once again with their long-awaited tenth studio album 'Sit Down For Dinner', a record that flows with alluring textures once again.
While their previous material may have come during a more tumultuous time for the trio, 'Sit Down For Dinner' sees them in a renewed and rejuvenated light as they deliver some of their most spellbinding songwriting to date. Keeping the energy and atmosphere of this new full-length as sombre and pensive as possible, they keep the vibrancy alive with a heady mix of technicolour aesthetics and shimmering tones that invite a wonderfully emotive direction from start to finish.
It may be their first new album in nine years, but 'Sit Down For Dinner' shows that they are still brimming with fresh and tantalising ideas at every turn. Mesmerising and enchanting as often as possible, it feels like the beginning of something new and interesting for the band here.
46. Cloth - ‘Secret Measure’
What We Said…
When Glasgow-based twin-sibling duo Rachael and Paul Swinton aka Cloth released their self-titled debut LP in 2019, it became one of the surprise offerings on the independent scene that year. While largely conceived on home-recordings and DIY principals, the record eventually earned a spot on the coveted Scottish Album Of The Year shortlist, garnering the attention of Arab Strap and The Twilight Sad in the process. Now signed to Mogwai’s Rock Action Records, they return with their hotly-tipped sophomore album 'Secret Measure', a full-length that sees them build upon those initial aesthetics.
Although the band now sit amongst some of Scotland's more exciting emerging artists, 'Secret Measure' still hones in on that raw and humbled direction they first emerged with. Keeping the production and direction as mellow as possible throughout its ten-track runtime, their newest outing is a wonderfully warm and inviting listen that elevates their distinctive aesthetic even further. Brimming with an effervescent energy that submerges Racheal's ethereal voice within its dynamic instrumentation, they have returned with a truly spellbinding release here.
Given the sublime tenure of the Rock Action roster of late, it was no surprise Cloth would want to pull out something special to be a part of it, but 'Secret Measure' feels far more assured and captivating than we could have expected. Maintaining such a supple and tender atmosphere from start to finish, they are continuing to prove themselves as one of the more alluring names doing the rounds right now.
45. Margaret Glaspy - ‘Echo The Diamond’
What We Said…
Having already been a major part of the new music scene for the best part of a decade now, US artist Margaret Glaspy has only really found success and acclaim in the last few years. After a number of self-released EPs near the beginning of her career were largely overlooked, her 2016 debut LP 'Emotions And Math' and its 2020 follow-up 'Devotion' have brought her enigmatic style to worldwide audiences, cementing her as a truly innovative name on the rise today. And now she looks to build upon those vibrant foundations with her third studio album 'Echo The Diamond', a record brimming with fresh and immersive textures.
Much like what 'Devotion' showed us, 'Echo The Diamond' aims to take the conventions of the indie-rock sound and give it a much-needed atmospheric aura throughout. With each track its own powerful strike of emotion and rigour, she finds herself dabbling in some wonderfully euphoric textures that not only bring us in for a closer listen, but also blow us away with passionate finesse as often as possible. Creating this beautifully alluring presence within her songwriting as well, she feels so confident and assured within her sound this time around.
There is something extremely familiar but also distinctive about 'Echo The Diamond'. As Glaspy clearly wears her influences on her sleeve throughout this new collection, she is still able to find a unique angle in which to honour them, giving her this fresh and captivating direction throughout.
44. Somebody’s Child - ‘Somebody’s Child’
What We Said…
Over the last few years, Dublin's Cian Godfrey aka Somebody's Child has been heralded as one of the future sounds of the indie-rock arena. With fresh and dynamic approach to his direction that regularly blends more atmospheric auras into a driven guitar-focused sound, he has created a solid buzz around himself with a flurry of engaging EP and single releases ever since he first emerged. And just as things really start to pick up for the fast-rising artist, he now delivers his eagerly-awaited self-titled debut album, a record that looks to cement his vibrant legacy to date.
While Somebody's Child has always been a project that brought a sense of flair to an indie-rock guise, his new full-length feels like a far stronger and more confident offering than anything he has produced before. While plenty of his influences remain in that heady heyday of early 00s guitar-pop, there is still a progressive ideal running the length of this new collection, something that gives him a more distinctive edge and crucially sets him apart from much of the other outfits working the peripheries of the scene right now.
Equal parts anthemic and heartfelt, 'Somebody's Child' is a warm and electrifying breath of fresh air from start to finish. With tracks like 'Hold Me Like You Wanna' flying the flag for his more tender ambitions, he has packed this new LP with stellar hooks throughout, making it an incredible easy and captivating listen.
43. PJ Harvey - ‘I Inside The Old Year Dying’
What We Said…
As one of the more progressive and adventurous artists the UK has produced in recent decades, PJ Harvey's tenure to date has been one of the most explorative and enigmatic we can think of. While originally carving herself on the outer rims of the Britpop scene in the 90s, she has since spent the last twenty years reinventing her sound in pursuit of something more diverse and otherworldly, making her the first artist in history to win the coveted Mercury Music Prize twice. Now after a six-year gap since her last outing 'The Hope Six Demolition Project', she returns with her tenth studio album 'I Inside The Old Year Dying', a record that rebrands her sound once again.
From the very start of this new release, it feels like 'I Inside The Old Year Dying' is another bold and inventive step into the unknown for the artist at the helm. With a tracklist brimming with grammatically ambivalent titles, her latest collection is a strange yet compelling return that sets her in her most experimental light to date. Capturing this wonderfully poetic guise that spreads itself across a sprawling and ambient instrumentation throughout, PJ Harvey is entering yet another vibrant phase in her career after an already well-accomplished thirty-year run.
While it does feel like a strong step away from the material she first found fame with, 'I Inside The Old Year Dying' is a beautifully composed and fascinating listening experience. Finding a new direction this late into one's career is never an easy feat, but Harvey sounds so confident and assured in her aesthetic, it is hard not to get swept up by it all.
42. Joanna Sternberg - ‘I’ve Got Me’
What We Said…
When they released their breakthrough debut LP 'Then I Try Some More' in 2021, New York-based singer-songwriter Joanna Sternberg was greeted as one of the more lovelorn names arriving on the US bustling folk scene. Keeping their guise as rustic and traditional as possible, they revitalised this iconic genre for a modern ear, revamping the seminal romance in their prose in order to find a new audience for their sound. And now with the cloak of the pandemic finally lifted from their tenure, they return with their vibrant sophomore album 'I've Got Me', a record that looks to double down on those original ideas.
From the very start, 'I've Got Me' has this immediately raw and unfiltered approach to its sound. While the recording was produced and engineered in Brooklyn’s Strange Weather Studios, it feels like they have deliberately kept any additional interference and flair away from the final product, giving it this wonderfully bare and stripped-back appeal from start to finish. Giving Sternberg's incredible voice centre stage throughout this new collection really heightens their lyrical prowess, and creates this beautifully serene and comforting listen that harks back to some of their earliest influences.
Sounding like you have come straight out of a 1960s folk den is never easy, especially given all the tech that has brought the sound roaring into the 21st century, but 'I've Got Me' has such a beautifully nostalgic feel to it, it is hard not to get washed up in it all. Joanna Sternberg has delivered a strong and commanding return that pushes their vibrant legacy forward once again.
41. Yves Tumor - ‘Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)’
What We Said…
Ever since they first emerged with their stunning self-released debut LP 'When Man Fails You' in 2015, artist and producer Sean Bowie aka Yves Tumor has always looked to carve their own direction within the wider mainstream. Regularly adopting a vast and explorative approach to their genre and sound, they have spent the last few years building a wonderfully diverse array of release that break conventions and stereotypes as often as possible. And after the enormous response to their dynamic 2020 release 'Heaven To A Tortured Mind', they are back with their eagerly-awaited fifth studio album 'Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)', a record that builds upon that adventurous ideal.
From the very start, 'Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)' looks to create this enigmatic appeal to its sound. With almost every track embarking on its own unique path throughout, there is very little that ties this new full-length together, but still somehow comes out as an extremely cohesive listen. Continuing to explore more of that riveting aesthetic they have produced in the past, this new collection makes for a wonderfully rich and sweeping listen that leaves you anxiously waiting for what is right around the corner at every turn.
Yves Tumor has always had a strong reputation for eclectic releases, but 'Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)' feels like another league altogether. Finding and developing such a confident grasp over their sound from start to finish, it is extremely hard not to find something to love on here.
40. Mahalia - ‘IRL’
What We Said…
When Mahalia released her hotly-tipped debut album 'Love And Compromise' in 2019, it was greeted with almost unanimous praise and acclaim from across the new music spectrum. Establishing herself as one of the brightest names to have arrived that year, the proceeding years saw her venture upon a number of high-profile collaborations and EP releases, building her name and presence on the scene even more. And after a few months of buzz building once again, she returns with her eagerly-awaited sophomore full-length 'IRL', a record that sees her take the next steps in her evolution to date.
While 'Love And Compromise' certainly moved the needle for both her and her contemporaries doing the rounds, 'IRL' feels like a bold step to become an even bigger superstar this time around. Finding her in a more confident and assured light throughout, Mahalia feels far more adventurous and inventive this time around. With the production of the record notably more impactful and vibrant from start to finish, she is moving from promising young starlet to one of the more progressive artists on the rise right now.
Although the songwriting and general tone of this release feels more in line to what she first emerged with, there is this wonderfully free and creative spark running the length of 'IRL' that truly sets it apart. Brimming with fresh and electrifying textures at every turn, she is more than ready to break into the wider world with this one.
39. Protomartyr - ‘Formal Growth In The Desert’
What We Said…
Over the last decade, Detroit's Protomartyr have steadily grown from a humble DIY outfit into one of the world's leading names in the post-punk scene. Originally keeping their sound more rustic and traditional in their earliest years, their recent popularity has allowed them the freedom to explore more unconventional ideas that have only added pace and speed to their ever-upward growth. And after a rousing response to their 2020 LP 'Ultimate Success Today', they return once again with their sixth studio album 'Formal Growth In The Desert', a record brimming with explosive textures from beginning to end.
While on the surface they do inhabit a strong post-punk intention with everything they create, there is something about their direction that adds a more euphoric edge to their material, and this is exactly what we get to experience on 'Formal Growth In The Desert'. Keeping the same organic aesthetic they have always looked to pursue, this new full-length is filled with raw and impactful moments that not only keep the record moving forward, but also makes for a wonderfully embracing listen, jam-packed with surprising moments from start to finish.
While those familiar with their recent work won't be too surprised at this level of innovative ideals, 'Formal Growth In The Desert' would still make for a powerful introduction to those just discovering them as well. Rarely faltering or losing track of its energy, their latest full-length marks another vital entry in their expressive repertoire to date.
38. Wednesday - ‘Rat Saw God’
What We Said…
Ever since they made their mark on the scene with their breakthrough sophomore LP 'I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone' in 2020, North Carolina's Wednesday have been a band that has been hard to define and tie down. With many tapping them with the grunge label in recent years, much of their output in recent years has seen them branch into a shoegaze-meets-country ideal, a genre that they quickly established for themselves. But after a prolific run of releases since then, they return with their fifth full-length 'Rat Saw God', a record that looks to refine some of their looser moments into a fully-formed direction.
While their energy and aesthetic on this new collection certainly calls back to the old Wednesday in many places, 'Rat Saw God' feels like a far more confident and assured listen throughout. Capturing a wonderfully warm yet haunted guitar-led approach throughout, their latest offering heightens their more rustic moments into a raw and driven atmosphere from beginning to end, creating an alluring tone that packs itself with plenty of power and emotion as often as possible.
Although they still sit on the peripheries of mainstream appeal, 'Rat Saw God' could go down as their most impactful release to date. Brimming with a fresh and captivating aura that sees singer Karly Hartzman give her all throughout, they could certainly easily break out of their US base and become the UK's next favourite band in the months ahead.
37. Matt Corby - ‘Everything’s Fine’
What We Said…
For a while, it felt like Matt Corby had fallen by the wayside of mainstream music appeal in recent years. Despite a strong and devout dedication to his craft for many years, turning out the widely-appreciated LPs 'Telluric' and 'Rainbow Valley' in 2016 and 2018 respectively, he suddenly stopped touring and releasing new material for a few years, leading many to believe he was either winding down or working on something very special. Thankfully it was the latter as he returns with his eagerly-awaited new studio album 'Everything's Fine', a record that rebuilds his vibrant prowess.
Ever since he first emerged, Matt Corby has been one of the most revered songwriters doing the rounds. Always pursuing rich and luxurious textures that compliment his honey-soaked vocals, 'Everything's Fine' is more of that same and that little bit more. While he has always been an artist that focuses on a more soul-inspired direction, his latest collection feels both more contemporary and diverse within its direction, resulting in one of his most adventurous and innovative releases to date.
It may come after a five-year break, but 'Everything's Fine' stands as his most confident and assured full-length yet. Branching off into new and interesting aesthetics, yet still keeping to a succinct ideal, he has returned with a buoyant and jovial attitude that reflects his own shimmering persona throughout.
36. Fever Ray - ‘Radical Romantics’
What We Said…
As a founding member of The Knife, Karin Dreijer’s pursuit of broad and adventurous textures has always been a part of their ambitions. While their formative group certainly changed the field in what electronic music could become in the 21st century, their Fever Ray project was always something that needed to be fleshed out. Originally embarking on the solo venture with their self-titled 2009 outing, they rekindled that immersive spirit for the long-awaited sophomore LP 'Plunge' in 2017. Now fully formed, they are back once again with their third studio album 'Radical Romantics', a record that looks to cement their legacy to date.
Throughout the rich and technicolour career they have pursued up until now, Fever Ray has always felt like a musical evolution against their work within The Knife. Not quite a full separation but something that builds upon their original desires. But with 'Radical Romantics', it feels like they are finally forging their own distinctive path, something that is equally as groundbreaking and innovative. Moving with this wonderfully expressive elegance that blends their unique voice with a sprawling production throughout, they are returning with one of their most confident and moving collections to date.
While Fever Ray has never been a project that doubts its vibrant ideals, 'Radical Romantics' feels like a bold step forward within their sound to date. Endlessly imaginative and intriguing, it feels like a release many of us will discover something new and interesting with every further listen.
35. Dumb Buoys Fishing Club - ‘Wrecked’
What We Said…
Ever since they first emerged earlier this year, emerging newcomers Dumb Buoys Fishing Club have quickly established themselves as one of the more exciting names doing the rounds. After a string of notable festival and headline show appearances in recent months, the pair have also turned out a wealth of widely-praised singles, adding further momentum to their already accelerating rise. And with hype now reaching its zenith, they deliver their eagerly-awaited debut album 'WRECKED', a record brimming with fresh and innovative ideas throughout.
While the release's guest appearances such as BROCKHAMPTON’s Merlyn, Leyla Blue, Bryce Vine, Lauren Sanderson and more make for an interesting experience, it is the vibrant and adventurous production on 'WRECKED' that really pulls you in. Taking cues from the likes of Gorillaz and N.E.R.D, this new collection has a wonderfully distinctive feel to it, while also maintaining an engaging edge throughout. Not since the heyday of Beastie Boys have we heard a hip-hop collective that brings some much uncompromising energy and vigour to their work.
Although it is still very early days for the pair, 'WRECKED' is jam-packed with this driven flow that rarely lets up. At this rate, Dumb Buoys Fishing Club could end up going down as one of the more impactful cult names of the year so far.
34. Bombay Bicycle Club - ‘My Big Day’
What We Said…
Throughout their earlier years, Bombay Bicycle Club were always seen as one of the more unpredictable names on the indie-pop scene at that time. While many of their contemporaries were aiming for bright and lively dancefloor delights, the four-piece were more interested in expanding their distinctive sound, working towards more innovative ideas and concepts as often as possible. And after returning from hiatus with their vibrant LP 'Everything Else Has Gone Wrong' in 2020, they are continuing to refine their comeback with 'My Big Day', a record that continues that adventurous streak once again.
While the general direction of 'My Big Day' certainly brings back that same expressive quality Bombay Bicycle Club have always searched for, what stands out most on this new collection is its wonderfully diverse list of collaborators. With the likes of Chaka Khan, Holly Humberstone, Damon Albert, Paul Epworth and many more adding their own take to their sound, their sixth studio album stands as their most eclectic offering to date, seeing them discover and venture down a multitude of varied avenues in order to come back with a truly mesmerising return.
While the signature Bombay Bicycle Club direction still remains the heart of this new release, it feels as if 'My Big Day' is the start of the next phase within their musical evolution to date. With such a progressive nature layered throughout, they continue to shine across this sprawling full-length once again.
33. Black Honey - ‘A Fistful Of Peaches’
What We Said…
Ever since they dropped their breakthrough self-titled debut LP in 2018, Brighton's Black Honey have been greeted as one of the saviours of modern British indie-rock. While the record made a modest impact upon its release, they quickly earned a strong and devout fanbase in the years since, leading into their incredibly engaging sophomore collection 'Written & Directed' in 2021. Now after another heady run of live performances since the end of lockdown, they are back once again with their third studio album 'A Fistful Of Peaches', a record that sees them continue their upward ascent.
With every Black Honey release, we get to see a glimpse of their internal mindset. While the debut effort fit their modest popularity with more rich and tender offerings, bigger stages meant bigger riffs going into 'Written & Directed'. Now more popular than ever, 'A Fistful Of Peaches' is all about broad and euphoric energy, something perfect for mainstage festival shows. Moving effortlessly from sweet and alluring compositions straight into raw and fuzzy guitar-rock anthems, their newest full-length looks to be their most eclectic offering to date as they try a more adventurous guise throughout.
While it is certainly a move towards more atmospheric intention this time around, 'A Fistful Of Peaches' still has all the same rustic spirit Black Honey have always looked to pursue. Passionate and enticing as often as possible, they are once again standing at the pinnacle of today's scene, showing the rest how it's done.
32. Animal Collective - ‘Isn’t It Now?’
What We Said…
It almost feels as if we are being spoiled by Animal Collective right now. Prior to last year's resounding release 'Time Skiffs', the group had largely been focusing on their solo material and other projects, leaving their output sparser than we had come to expect from them. But it seems that their previous outing was just the shunt they needed to get working together again as they return with their twelfth studio album 'Isn't It Now?', a record that harks back to those immersive psychedelic ideals they first emerged with.
Throughout the last decade or so, Animal Collective's sound has been moving further away from their more traditional psych-rock roots in search of something new and interesting in which to pursue. So it comes as a welcome surprise to hear the group getting back to their basics on 'Isn't It Now?', a release brimming with shimmering textures from start to finish. While still looking as a companion piece to 'Time Skiffs', the new full-length is a classic Animal Collective release, one that broadens their musical horizons and delves further into what made them such an alluring presence in the first place.
While their more established work still remains the benchmark of their creative wisdom in the eyes of their fans, 'Isn't It Now?' feels like the closest they have come to recreating that initial pursuit in years. With such a vibrant display of aesthetics on show, they are very much back to their best here.
31. SBTRKT - ‘The Rat Road’
What We Said…
When SBTRKT first emerged with his breakthrough self-titled debut album in 2011, it was seen as one of the most original and inventive electronic releases of that year. Working closely with his regular collaborator Sampha, who would himself become a renowned name in his own right, the producer had tapped into a sound that was so distinctive and immersive, he was able to carry it through his subsequent LPs 'Wonder Where We Land' and 'SAVE YOURSELF' in the years since. But now reemerging for the first time in seven years, he looks to enter a new phase with his long-awaited fourth full-length 'The Rat Road', a record that explores a multitude of new ideals.
In the build-up to this new collection, SBTRKT, whose real name is Aaron Jerome, chose to drop the mask that had become a symbol of his live performances since he first began, showing that this was indeed a whole new identity we were seeing. Largely inspired by his work with global superstars in recent years, and choosing to invite the likes of Sampha, Toro y Moi, Little Dragon and many more along for the ride, 'The Rat Road' feels like a richer and more enigmatic listen throughout. Despite its 22-track runtime, it manages to innovative at almost every turn, giving it this wonderfully broad and kaleidoscopic feel.
It may have come after an extended period of quiet for the producer, but this new era of SBTRKT feels like we are listening to him for the first time once again. Finding and exploring new and interesting ideas throughout his newest collection, it is a strong and confident step into the unknown that pays off dividends from start to finish.
30. Maple Glider - ‘I Get Into Trouble’
What We Said…
When Australian singer-songwriter Tori Zietsch released her debut LP 'To Enjoy Is The Only Thing' as Maple Glider in 2021, she was instantly greeted as one of the more heartfelt names emerging that year. While largely becoming a cult name on the scene, she has quickly formed a strong and solid fanbase for her sound, which largely sees her deliver wonderfully inventive compositions that still manage to maintain a conventional folk-pop attitude. And with the buzz around her still slowly building, she returns with her shimmering sophomore album 'I Get Into Trouble', a record that looks to build upon those positive foundations.
Much like what we got to hear on 'To Enjoy Is The Only Thing', her newest outing is another sweet and sweeping journey into her soul-infused aesthetic. Opting for a more diverse production this time around, regularly flipping back and forth between an acoustic guitar and piano-led textures, 'I Get Into Trouble' has this brilliantly transportive energy running through it. Composing some wondrous ideals that perfectly compliment her spellbinding vocals from start to finish, it feels like she is taking the next bold step within her musical evolution here.
Still very much embroiled within the traditional Maple Glider sound, 'I Get Into Trouble' overflows with fresh and adventurous pursuits throughout. She may not have the praise and attention she deserves right now, but this new full-length stakes quite the claim for much wider recognition in the years ahead.
29. SYML - ‘The Day My Father Died’
What We Said…
Since the release of his breakthrough self-titled debut LP in 2019, singer, songwriter and producer Brian Fennell aka SYML has been regarded as one of the more breathtaking names on the rise in recent years. With his initial offering showcasing his warm and open approach to songwriting, cemented with passionate and awe-inspiring production throughout, he quickly maintained a reputation for songs that truly touched your soul. Now after a few years of EP and single releases, he returns with one of his most captivating efforts to date, his sophomore studio album 'The Day My Father Died', a record that builds on those emotional textures.
While his first full-length was a largely solo affair that saw Fennell adopt the mantle as a lone wolf throughout, 'The Day My Father Died' sees him invite a menagerie of guest vocalists along for the ride including Elbow's Guy Garvey, Charlotte Lawrence, Lucius and many more. Yet despite its more collaborative appeal, his new collection still sees him firmly front and centre of this deeply personal return. While its heartbreaking title certainly gives an idea as to the inspiration behind it, much of this new album aims to hone a direction of hope and brevity as he reflects on his origins and projects a confident and renewed artist at the helm.
Throughout 'The Day My Father Died', Fennell seems to take a broader approach to his production and instrumentation, giving this release a far more adventurous and kinetic aesthetic than most. It is certainly a bold step forward for his overall sound since his self-titled debut, yet still manages to harness plenty of raw and tender moments from start to finish.
28. Jessie Ware - ‘That! Feels Good’
What We Said…
Like so many artists in her field, Jessie Ware first came to the public's attention as a voice for more established electronic artists of the time. The connection between her and the electronic world became a synergy that would launch her into the world-renowned singer she is today, with a who's-who of notable producers lending their expertise to her releases ever since. But for her latest outing, she has chosen to strip back the collaborative intentions in pursuit of a more personal direction as she returns with her fifth full-length 'That! Feels Good!', a record that feels far more connected to her own unique voice.
Teaming up with production juggernauts James Ford and Stuart Price for her latest studio album, 'That! Feels Good!' sees her revive the classic disco sound as if she were Donna Summer incarnate. Without having a smorgasbord of other names working the knobs behind the scenes, Ware is able to create a fully succinct release that projects far more of her own persona throughout. Breaking away from her formative shell, she is returning with one of her most confident and assured collections to date.
Jessie Ware has always been a strong and progressive name on the pop scene this last decade, but 'That! Feels Good!' feels like a bold step towards fulfilling the legendary status she has always been heading towards. Fresh and exciting at almost every turn, she has discovered a sound that suits her down to the ground, and will probably serve her incredibly well throughout the next ten years as well.
27. FIZZ - ‘The Secret To Life’
What We Said…
When news of the supergroup FIZZ first came to the surface, announcing that emerging talents dodie, Orla Gartland, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown would be forming a collective together, it almost sounded to good to be true. But as the months and singles have been rolling out, it has been clear why these four wanted to band together and create something new and interesting for the new music landscape. Now after more than enough buzz, they release their long-awaited debut album 'The Secret To Life', a record brimming with bright and illustrious ideas.
Usually the idea of getting four artists used to being in front of the microphone to work as one unit can sometimes feel a little muddled, but FIZZ have solved that dilemma by getting each member to take equal turns to shine here, giving 'The Secret To Live' this wonderfully vibrant and distinctive aesthetic. Sounding more and more like a group of friends simply having fun and enjoying each others company, this new collection is a fun and lively romp that barely has a moment to falter.
Side-projects such as these tend to be short-lived, but it's clear that FIZZ have tapped into something so special here, we hope they continue it far beyond the one full-length release. With such an inviting pursuit of songwriting prowess at every turn, 'The Secret Of Life' is the perfectly listen to brighten any downbeat day.
26. James Blake - ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’
What We Said…
Since he first emerged with his breakthrough self-titled debut LP in 2011, James Blake has been seen as one of the more distinctive and innovative producers working the scene. With his sophomore offering 'Overgrown' rewarded with a Mercury Prize win, he has spent the last decade branching his sound out from his ethereal roots, largely collaborating with renowned hip-hop artists in order to break new and fascinating ground. But now it seems he is heading back to his origins as he delivers his sixth studio album 'Playing Robots Into Heaven', a record that takes us back to those formative years.
While his musical evolution in recent years has been a varied one, it has still managed to cement him as one of the most creative and adventurous names in his field. So choosing to venture back to those sombre and emotive beginnings does come as an interesting move. But regardless of this revived direction of his, 'Playing Robots Into Heaven' is still a strong and confident return for the artist. Whether he missed his former self or simply wasn't feeling his recent path, this atmospheric texture he has always been able to conjure still makes for fantastic listening.
An almost flash back to his past throughout, 'Playing Robots Into Heaven' seems to spark a revived James Blake at the helm. One that feels that now is the time to bring back those almost forgotten aesthetics, and reinvent them for modern times. Surprising but still wildly enjoyable.
25. VC Pines - ‘MRI’
What We Said…
Throughout the last few years, VC PInes' Jack Mercer has been quick to cement himself as one of the more exciting names emerging from the capital. With a sound that takes the warm and blanketed feel of the neo-soul genre and reflects it off a glittering city landscape, his singles and EPs to date have been a widely-praised affair, championed by almost every tastemaker worth listening to. And after a run of impressive outings already this year, he now delivers his long-awaited debut album 'MRI', a record that looks to project even more of his true self.
Inspired by his lifelong struggles with epilepsy and seizures, 'MRI' stands as a wonderfully intimate and personal collection that adds that extra layer of vulnerability to his already immersive sound. With its smooth and passionate demeanour perfectly elevating his rich and tender vocal style from start to finish, this new offering brings a sense of urgency to his recent material. Broadening his musical ambitions just enough to create a varied and diverse listen, he continues to build upon his acclaimed foundations with style and finesse throughout.
While the soulful elements of his first full-length remain at its heart, VC Pines' movements towards psychedelica and electronica give this release a beautifully elegant and dramatic appeal. 'MRI' may have been a long time in the making, but it is certainly worth the wait.
24. Kelela - ‘Raven’
What We Said…
After originally establishing herself with her groundbreaking debut LP 'Take Me Apart' in 2017, Kelela found herself as a forward-thinking artist ready to revive the warm and embracing club sound that dominated her early childhood. But besides the remix collections that arrived in the wake of her initial offering, she seemed to slip away from the limelight, giving the impression she was either fulfilled in her ambitions or working confidently on something more fascinating. Thankfully it was the latter as she now returns with her eagerly-awaited sophomore studio album 'Raven', a record that continues her dynamic direction.
Throughout 'Take Me Apart', we were treated to a fresh yet nostalgic take on modern club-focused R&B aesthetics, cementing her intentions towards something entirely connected to her own personal story. And for 'Raven' it remains more of the same, but with a strength and confidence that can only come with time and patience. Amongst this new collection we hear a rich and inventive Kelela at the helm as she moves effortlessly between harder production and more sombre textures to deliver a truly mesmerising new full-length.
While her first record brought an elevation to her sound, 'Raven' is more about building on those strong and vibrant foundations. Brimming with fresh and exciting ideas from start to finish, she has returned in her most progressive guise to date.
23. Iggy Pop - ‘Every Loser’
What We Said…
Throughout the decades, Iggy Pop has stood as one of the most influential and enigmatic names on the international music scene. Stretching back to his time as the frontman of The Stooges in 1960s and 70s, his subsequent solo career has been an exceptionally proficient run of form that has seen him take on a chameleonic approach to his sound. And while his previous outing 'Free' in 2019 showed him in a more reflective and retrospective light, the 75-year-old is returning to his raw and uncompromising roots on his nineteenth solo album 'Every Loser', a record that looks to rekindle plenty of that early fire that first made him a household name.
Kicking off with the powerful and explosive opener 'Frenzy', it is clear from the very start that 'Every Loser' sets itself as one of his most anthemic releases for a decade. While he has never quite lost that bold and driven showmanship he is known for, this new collection sees him revitalise himself for a modern ear and bring his raucous ambitions right up to the modern day. With the occasional nostalgic nods to his sweeping indie-rock and post-punk flavours, his latest effort shows that he is still very much at the top of his game and ready to develop something new and interesting at every turn.
Iggy Pop by all expectations should not still be this good, but when you have something special within your character, it is always difficult to move away from it. 'Every Loser' feels like it could have been released by a far younger artist at the helm, given its adventurous and contemporary appeals, but instead it is another exciting step forward for a name still bringing with charisma and creativity throughout.
22. Chappaqua Wrestling - ‘Plus Ultra’
What We Said…
Over the last five years, Brighton-based outfit Chappaqua Wrestling have been steadily building a strong and confident repertoire of dynamic releases. While very much influenced by the nostalgic Britpop sound to date, the band have also looked to invite a menagerie of distinctive inspirations into their style, developing a wonderfully broad and inventive aesthetic that has served them extremely well up until now. And after a few years of slowly serving out singles, they now release their long-awaited debut studio album 'Plus Ultra', a record that looks to bring all of those intentions under one roof.
While the Britpop comparisons remain a staple throughout 'Plus Ultra', Chappaqua Wrestling have also been keen on the post-punk and shoegaze genres on recent offerings, and this is exactly the mix of directions they pursue throughout their first full-length. Capturing this wonderfully dense and immersive atmosphere that soars and sweeps as often as possible, their newest record makes for a rousing introduction to their unique style, creating this brilliantly inviting listen that pumps plenty of fresh and inspired ideas throughout.
It may have arrived upon a wave of hype in the last few years, but 'Plus Ultra' certainly delivers what their devout fanbase have been hoping for. Not just simple revivalists to those much-loved eras, Chappaqua Wrestling are an adventurous and progressive group that pack plenty of intrigue into almost everything they deliver.
21. Caroline Polachek - ‘Desire, I Want To Turn Into You’
What We Said…
Since departing from her formative group Chairlift in 2016, Caroline Polachek has quickly established herself as one of the more progressive icons in the pop movement these last few years. Finding associations and collaborations with the likes of Danny L Harle, Charli XCX, Christine & The Queens, A. G. Cook and so many more in just a short space of time has given her this vibrant lift within the scene, and allowed her to develop into a truly unique and forward-thinking artist. And after the rousing response to her last solo LP 'Pang' in 2019, she now returns to unveil her eagerly-awaited follow-up 'Desire, I Want To Turn Into You', a record that cements her as a true visionary.
While much of her more high-profile work in recent years has seen her as a bit-player within other's projects, 'Desire, I Want To Turn Into You' is one of the only times we have seen her front-and-centre of a new release, something that she has taken great time and effort to produce. Throughout her newest collection, we find a strong and reassured Polachek at the helm, someone who has a focused purpose to her aesthetic, creating this wonderfully vivid listening experience from start to finish. Originally supposed to be unveiled much sooner than this before the pandemic scuffled her plans, those wilderness years have clearly had an impactful influence over her sound as she returns with something far more interesting than many others doing the rounds right now.
Although many of her contemporaries seek to explore a bolder and more intense direction than her, 'Desire, I Want To Turn Into You' is a humbled yet electrifying collection that delivers something beautifully alluring at every turn. Hardly a dull moment throughout this twelve-track collection, Caroline Polachek is returning with some of her most engaging work to date here.
20. Dizzy - ‘Dizzy’
What We Said…
Ever since they first emerged with their stunning breakthrough debut LP 'Baby Teeth' in 2020, Canadian outfit Dizzy have been treated as one of the more euphoric and innovative names doing the rounds. Comprised of three brothers alongside one of their closest friends, the band's sound has clearly been crafted over years of broad and explorative ingenuity, cemented perfectly with their rousing sophomore collection 'The Sun And Her Scorch' in 2020. But now they look to enter a new phase on their new self-titled studio album, a record that broadens their musical horizons from start to finish.
Choosing to self-name a release, especially one after a few years of tremendous output, usually indicates a more personal and intimate offering, and this is exactly how 'Dizzy' feels. Essentially declaring this new music as their true and honest sound, they quickly find a whole host of fascinating aesthetics in which to explore and deliver one of their more confident records to date. Brimming with a fresh and engaging energy throughout, it feels like a release where they have truly found their stride and look to push it as far as it will go.
Much like 'The Sun And Her Scorch', this new outing is just another step into a rich and creative space that feels more innovative at every turn. Branching out towards a more illustrious and warming atmosphere throughout, 'Dizzy' is a strong and resilient listen that rarely finds itself struggling to keep its head above water.
19. The Murder Capital - ‘Gigi’s Recovery’
What We Said…
After breaking through with their sensational debut album 'When I Have Fears' in 2019, Dublin's The Murder Capital set themselves apart from all the other post-punk-inspired outfits emerging at that time. While the scene became saturated with Joy Division knockoffs and imitators, The Murder Capital looked to become something more inventive and experimental than their peers. And now after a few years away to figure out their next move, they return with their sophomore studio album 'Gigi's Recovery', a record that sees them confidently build on those initial leanings.
Throughout this new release, The Murder Capital perform great strides to deliver something with more gusto and intensity than before. Regularly adopting a dark and haunted atmosphere in which to pursue their latest guise, 'Gigi's Recovery' comes across as a far more sombre and emotionally-charged endeavour, led by the visceral vocal performance of frontman James McGovern. Keeping much of the same brutal drive of their former full-length, this new collection has this flair of unwavering consistency at its core, making for an incredibly captivating listen.
While 'When I Have Fears' certainly drew attention to the five-piece, 'Gigi's Recovery' maintains it with some brilliantly enticing offerings. It feels like their time away from the scene has allowed some perspective to seep in, and give them the opportunity to return with something even more compelling than before.
18. Billy Nomates - ‘CACTI’
What We Said…
When Bristol-based newcomer Tor Maries first introduced her Billy Nomates project in 2020 with her self-titled breakthrough debut LP, she was greeted as one of the more alluring and progressive names to have emerged that year. Channelling the same broad and inventive energy as PJ Harvey, she quickly maintained a reputation for rich and driven compositions that truly broke the mould. And after a few years of continued buzz and acclaim to fall back on, she returns with her eagerly-awaited sophomore studio album 'CACTI', a record that continues that invigorating streak once again.
While Maries is very much an artist that likes to wear her influences firmly on her sleeve, most notably the sweet and supple textures of Fleetwood Mac and The War On Drugs, 'CACTI' still manages to present itself as a brilliantly distinctive and innovative listen. Creating this wonderfully warm and passionate approach to her sound that doesn't rely on fanfare to get noticed, her newest collection sees her step out of her formative guise and approach this new phase with a renewed flair that is simply irresistible from start to finish.
Billy Nomates may still have only just started to build up her credibility and intrigue in these last few years, but 'CACTI' feels like a record that could see her explode in the months ahead. With such a fresh and adventurous sound that always focuses on her vibrant and heartfelt songwriting throughout, she is definitely one we can see enjoying for many years to come.
17. Bleach Lab - ‘Lost In A Rush Of Emptiness’
What We Said…
Over the last few months, emerging outfit Bleach Lab have quickly cemented themselves as one of the more alluring names emerging right now. After a captivating run of releases that see them revive the ethereal shoegaze sound for a modern ear, they have been quick to find praise and support for their work of late, building up quite the buzz in the process. But now look to cement that legacy as they deliver their eagerly-awaited debut album 'Lost In A Rush Of Emptiness', a record brimming with tantalising textures.
Produced by boygenius, PJ Harvey and The Big Moon collaborator Catherine Marks, the general sound of 'Lost In A Rush Of Emptiness' has a familiar yet distinctive direction to it. While it is easy to hear where their influences lie throughout this new collection, Bleach Lab make great strides to deliver something passionate and surprising as often as possible. Conjuring the same shimmering appeal as The Cure from start to finish, their first full-length has this instant attraction to it, as they find themselves in an extremely confident and assured guise from start to finish.
With so much material coming from this record before it got released, there was never any doubt it wasn't going to be an exceptionally proficient listen. Bleach Lab have been one of the darlings of the 2023 movement and 'Lost In A Rush Of Emptiness' is a firm reminder of why so many have been flocking to them lately.
16. Daughter - ‘Stereo Mind Game’
What We Said…
Throughout the 2010s, London-based trio Daughter were treated as one of the more inventive and adventurous names doing the rounds at that time. With a flurry of EP releases, two studio LPs, and a soundtrack for video game 'Life Is Strange: Before The Storm' all arriving between 2010 and 2017, they quickly established themselves as one of the more mesmerising names on the scene, before suddenly turning completely quiet. But after six years without so much as a peep from them, they now return with their long-awaited third studio album 'Stereo Mind Game', a record that looks to revive those original ambitions.
While a seven-year gap between records can sometimes be a jarring thing to come back to for many bands, in the case of Daughter, it is almost as if they are picking right back up where they left off. Continuing to explore more of that rich and atmospheric aesthetic they are known for, 'Stereo Mind Game' makes for a beautifully alluring return to form from start to finish. Capturing a range of sprawling textures that add depth and brevity to their riveting sound throughout, this new collection sees them return with more confidence and assurance than ever.
While there was probably little doubt they would return to these dynamic ideas from the off, given the quality of their output to date, 'Stereo Mind Game' still manages to surprise and captivate as often as possible. It may have arrived after an extended break from the group, but is clearly something they poured their heart and soul into at every turn.
15. Dream Wife - ‘Social Lubrication’
What We Said…
Ever since they first emerged with their stunning self-titled debut album in 2018, London-based trio Dream Wife have quickly cemented themselves as one of the more thought-provoking names on the indie-rock scene. With raw and passionate direction that has allowed lead singer Rakel Mjöll to inject their material with socially conscious and political aligned lyrics, they have cultivated a brilliantly engaging sound that also served them extremely well through their sophomore outing 'So When You Gonna...' in 2020. Now returning with their third full-length 'Social Lubrication', the band look to bring a heady dose of swagger to their latest release.
Throughout their career so far, the Dream Wife sound has largely been a loud and brash experience that blends a rigorous energy with some brilliantly infectious hooks. And while that remains consistent throughout 'Social Lubrication' as well, there is this thread of high-octane fun mixed into this new collection. While the messaging and social commentary remain stalwart within their newest offering, there is also this carefree approach to their aesthetic this time around, making for a wonderfully euphoric and danceable listen.
While a serious tone has always had its place within the Dream Wife sound, 'Social Lubrication' is a far more confident and assured release as the three seem more keen to start a riot this time around. Venomous and angry as always, they have this cacophonous approach to their material here that really suits the broad strides they have been making already.
14. Bonnie “Prince” Billy - ‘Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You’
What We Said…
Throughout the last three decades, singer-songwriter Will Oldham has stood as one of the more proficient and alluring songwriters working the ground in recent times. Since adopting the Bonnie "Prince" Billy moniker near the turn of the century, he has rarely been away from the recording studio, regularly releasing new material either by himself or as part of a collaboration, which we saw on his two most recent records where he joined forces with Matt Sweeney and Bill Callahan respectively. But now he is back in his solo guise as he delivers 'Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You', a record brimming with warmth and passion.
While much of his releases this past decade have usually either been part of another artists' work or cover songs, 'Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You' is a firm reminder of just how heartfelt his own material can be. Sweeping and swooning the length of this new collection with a flurry of rich and immersive acoustic-led delights throughout, he returns with a truly wondrous offering here, heightening his powerful presence and luring us closer to him as often as possible.
Despite being one of the more prolific names on the scene these days, Bonnie "Prince" Billy still remains charged with some beautifully endearing ideals here. 'Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You' is not just a strong return to form, but focused outing that shows he is far from losing his edge.
13. Holly Humberstone - ‘Paint My Bedroom Black’
What We Said…
Ever since she first emerged with her breakthrough debut EP 'Falling Asleep At The Wheel' in 2020, Holly Humberstone has been seen as one of the more exciting songwriters on the rise in recent years. With a wonderfully progressive approach to her production and aesthetic that has only grown more ambitious as time goes by, she has quickly established herself as distinctive entity on the alt-pop scene today. And after a flurry of vibrant singles these last few months, she now releases her long-awaited debut album 'Paint My Bedroom Black', a record brimming with more of that innovative flavour she is known for.
While her field has certainly had its fair share of similar names and acts looking to break through to the mainstream, Humberstone still manages to peek her head above the rest. 'Paint My Bedroom Black' is one of those rare pop releases that not only displays some brilliantly adventurous ideas, but also manages to maintain a strong and consistent direction throughout. With each track complimenting and building upon the last, it has this wonderfully easygoing flow to it, making for a brilliantly inviting listen from start to finish.
With so much love and praise for her work in recent years, it was never in any doubt that Holly Humberstone would smash this one out of the park. 'Paint My Bedroom Black' is one of the stronger and more engaging debuts of the year so far, and feels like she still has plenty more to say once it's over.
12. Willie J Healey - ‘Bunny’
What We Said…
Over the last few years, Oxfordshire's Willie J Healey has found himself riding a wave of praise and acclaim across the industry. Dubbed at times "the songwriter's songwriter", Healey's sound has managed to catch the attention of hoards of those in the know, cemented with his first two LPs 'People And Their Dogs' and 'Twin Heavy'. But after a few years of really seeing his career begin to take off, he is now looking to capitalise on that buzz with the release of his third studio album 'Bunny', a record brimming with fresh and emotive innovation.
Unlike many others in his field, Willie J Healey prefers to take the humbled acoustic-led nature out of the singer-songwriter staple in order to pursue a more adventurous approach to his direction, and this is exactly what we get once again on 'Bunny'. Dabbling in a whole host of other genres and aesthetics such as soul, R&B, funk and so much more, this new collection makes for a wonderfully fresh and enticing listen as it effortlessly moves from one insatiable ideal to another, delivering one of his most passionate offerings in the process as well.
While these last few years have certainly been a positive time for his presence within the scene, 'Bunny' shows that he is still finding and developing new ideas throughout. Building upon an already confident foundation, it feels like he is finally about to break free of his hidden gem status and become the household name he has always deserved.
11. The Japanese House - ‘In The End It Always Does’
What We Said…
When The Japanese House's Amber Bain released her stunning debut LP 'Good At Falling' in 2019, it was greeted as one of the more distinctive breakthroughs from that year. Finding and developing an entirely new take on the alt-pop sound gave Bain an identity that allowed her to break away from conventional norms and explore a multitude of concepts that struck a very emotive chord with listeners. And now after a number of years away to figure out her next move, she returns with her eagerly-awaited sophomore album 'In The End It Always Does', a record brimming with inventive passion throughout.
Working alongside Dirty Hit labelmate George Daniel from the 1975, Katie Gavin of Muna, and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon to create her latest endeavour, 'In The End It Always Does' has this duality running through it, largely due to its collaborative nature. While some of the release focuses more of that euphoric pop ideals she has cultivated since her earliest beginnings, much of this new collection also branches off into a more experimental realm at times, giving it this wonderfully unpredictable direction that feels far more confident than her earlier work.
In all, 'In The End It Always Does' adds to the glittering response her first full-length managed to conjure. Feeling like a bold step forward within her musical evolution to date, she has returned with a beautifully alluring and innovative offering that sounds like a fresh surprise almost every time we hear it.
10. Squid - ‘O Monolith’
What We Said…
When Squid released their breakthrough debut album 'Bright Green Field' in 2021, they were instantly greeted as one of the more unique and inventive names to have emerged that year. While their work contained a multitude of abstract and experimental ideas, they still managed to maintain an incredibly accessible sound that allowed them to skirt the peripheries of the commercial scene during the peak of their popularity. Now as they return with their highly-anticipated sophomore LP 'O Monolith', it seems as though they are continuing that adventurous spirit throughout this new full-length.
While 'Bright Green Field' had this almost jazz-inspired direction to it, with the band's sound heading off in completely unpredictable tangents at times, 'O Monolith' feels a little more rooted to its core aesthetic. While Squid do like to keep the listener on their toes with the odd burst of vibrant energy from time to time, the bulk of their newest collection is a far more refined listen. Aiming to create a more succinct and cohesive appeal on their second outing, they sacrifice some of their more outlandish ideals for a driven pursuit of raw and more purposeful power.
It may feel a little watered down when compared with their initial full-length, but 'O Monolith' still makes for an incredibly fascinating listen. Brimming with just as much creativity and innovation as they've always shown, they are still standing tall as one of the UK's most interesting bands today.
9. Mitch Rowland - ‘Come June’
What We Said…
Having been working in the music industry for almost a decade now, the path to Mitch Rowland's solo career has already been filled with praise and acclaim. As the chief songwriter for Harry Styles, penning many of his hits including 'Meet Me In The Hallway', 'Watermelon Sugar', and 'Golden', he has already made a strong name for himself behind the scenes, earning two Grammy nominations and winning one. But now he has brought his passionate ideals to the forefront as he releases his stunning debut album 'Come June', a record that looks to cement his own personal ambitions.
While his own aesthetic is a far cry from the work he has done with Harry Styles, it still manages to evoke a positive emotion throughout. Largely keeping the textures stripped back to a smooth and alluring production that heightens his shimmering voice from start to finish, 'Come June' introduces him to the fold as a wonderfully magnetic entity. Brimming with this fresh sense of charisma that truly elevates his persona here, Mitch Rowland already feels like an artist bubbling with plenty of bright and captivating concepts just waiting to be pursued.
Although he has probably been cultivating this record for many years now, surrounded by some extremely inspirational individuals, 'Come June' still makes for a solid introduction to his direction so far. With such a warm and embracing aura threaded throughout, we can't wait to hear where he plans to take his sound next.
8. Sampha - ‘LAHAI’
What We Said…
When he released his breakthrough debut album 'Process' in 2017, Sampha was greeted as one of the more exciting and innovative names doing the rounds. Already a household name thanks to a number of high-profile collaborations in the years prior, his initial full-length was the culmination of endless hype and buzz, eventually winning the Mercury Prize a few months later. And then it was almost complete radio silence for the foreseeable future. But now he is back to deliver his long-awaited sophomore album 'Lahai', a record that looks to revive those vibrant aesthetics once again.
For 'Process', Sampha's sound relied on two vital elements; a distinctive and adventurous production, and his own spellbinding voice. Both of which have reemerged as the hallmark of 'Lahai' as well. Largely self-produced this time around, his latest offering continues that rich and immersive ideal he has always looked to project. Branching out into more percussion-led textures that give the release an almost jazz-inspired feel throughout, he returns in masterful form, cultivating more of that same engaging direction once again.
Although seven years between albums can sometimes lead to an artist forgetting the initial ambitions of their earlier work, Sampha has picked up almost exactly where he left off here. With such a tender and forward-thinking approach to his sound, 'Lahai' is the comeback record we were all hoping for.
7. Mitski - ‘The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We’
What We Said…
Ever since she first emerged with her self-released debut LP 'Lush' in 2012, Mitski has always been seen as one of the more progressive names in the folk-rock field. And while those initial years left her largely in obscurity, it was the signing to internationally renowned label Dead Oceans in 2015 that turbocharged her career and quickly established her as one of the shining lights on the new music scene. And with last year's 'Laurel Hell' proving another runaway hit with critics and fans, she is returning once again with her seventh studio album 'The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We', a record that continues that positive ascent for herself.
Much like what 'Laurel Hell' and 2018's 'Be The Cowboy' delivered, 'The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We' aims to highlight some of the more tender aspects of her songwriting to date. Creating a flurry of warm and embracing offerings that never seem to outstay their welcome, this new collection is a surprising fast-paced affair that moves from one humbled serenade to the next without much filler. Adding more of that riveting flair for atmospheric prose she has showcased before, she sweeps and swoons her way through this eleven-track outing with confidence and aplomb.
With the run of form she has shown already, it was never in any doubt that 'The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We' wouldn't live up to the hype. With such a fresh and passionate approach to everything she does, Mitski continues her legacy as a bold and dynamic songwriter, brimming with fascinating ideas throughout.
6. Slowdive - ‘everything is alive’
What We Said…
When they originally emerged during the shoegaze/post-punk explosion of the late 80s and early 90s, Slowdive were greeted as one of the more progressive names on the scene. Delivering three magnificent studio albums during their first four years on the rise, like so many others in their field, they found the popularity for their sound waining and ended up waiting a full twenty-three years before returning with their stunning self-titled comeback record in 2017. But now it seems that reunion wasn't just a blip as they are back once again with their eagerly-awaited fifth full-length 'everything is alive', a release that sees them in their most contemporary guise to date.
While that self-titled effort six years ago was certainly a way for them to revisit and rekindle some of that early ambition they first emerged with, 'everything is alive' feels far more like a continuation of intent. Almost everything about this new offering feels fresh and adventurous, not something we usually get from bands this late in their careers. From the very start, their newest collection captures this beautifully immersive atmosphere to broadens and swells throughout, making for a wonderfully captivating listen.
Slowdive may be one of just a handful of names from that mid-90s expedition, but it truly feels like they are more at home in this arena than the one they started in. 'everything is alive' is bold, dazzling, and jam-packed with plenty of passion and emotion, almost as if they are just getting started once again.
5. boygenius - ‘the record’
What We Said…
Ever since they first emerged with their self-titled debut EP back in 2018, boygenius - the supergroup formed of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus - took on a more mythical place within the scene in recent years. As each of its members grew in both popularity and critical acclaim since then, many began to wonder whether they would ever unite again for another new collection. But after a few years of collaborating with other artists, they finally release their eagerly-awaited debut album 'the record', a full-length that perfectly elevates their own distinctive directions.
While each member has been cementing their own unique guise within the scene recently, they all fall under the vague umbrella term "folk-rock", which seems to be the direction they take 'the record' in. Combining a subtle blend of warm and alluring songwriting with a progressive ideal on almost every track, boygenius are able to step out of their own individual aesthetics to produce something new and interesting for them as a unit. Capturing some beautifully serene and cinematic moments throughout, they are showing that their synergy runs so much deeper than many would have expected.
While supergroups as a whole tend to venture down a more self-indulgent avenue, 'the record' is more about highlighting these three as some of the best songwriters doing the rounds right now. With none taking a direct lead throughout this collection, they play to each other's strengths from start to finish, making for a wonderfully inviting and succinct listen.
4. King Creosote - ‘I DES’
What We Said…
Ever since he first emerged, Kenny Anderson's King Creosote project has never been one to skirt the lines of conformity. Usually adopting a broad and immersive aesthetic to compliment to his indie-folk agenda over the last few decades, his tenure has been littered with bright and dynamic delights that always seek to push the boundaries of his own personal ambitions. And after an unusual seven-year break since his last LP, he returns with 'I DES', a record that brings back those vibrant ideals once again.
Sharing more in common with his Jon Hopkins collaboration 'Diamond Mine' than anything else we have come to expect from him in recent years, 'I DES' makes for a wonderfully rich and moving listen. With his enigmatic voice layered across an eclectic mix of electronic and organic instrumentation throughout, his latest collection has this beautifully alluring quality to it. Not only allowing him to shine as a frontman, but also highlighting the beauty within its production as well.
Seven years is usually a fairly long time for an artist to try and get back into their groove, but Anderson shines at every point throughout this new offering. 'I DES' is not only a welcome return, but could go down as one of his most beloved outings to date.
3. Joesef - ‘Permanent Damage’
What We Said…
Throughout the last few years, Glaswegian artist Joesef has been working hard to build a warm and embracing allure around his sound. With a flurry of fresh and enticing offerings under his belt already, his reputation for shimmering neo-soul grooves has quickly made him one of the most exciting names rising on the UK scene right now. And just as he reaches the zenith of his popularity to date, he returns to deliver his eagerly-awaited debut album 'Permanent Damage', a record that perfectly cements his vibrant legacy to date.
One of the most notable takeaways from Joesef's first full-length is just how clean and polished it comes across. Never needlessly filling the production with unnecessary fanfare to give the illusion of depth and texture, 'Permanent Damage' is a beautifully refined outing that perfectly reflects his own euphoric persona. With his sweet and humbled voice taking centre stage throughout, each one of these tracks acts as a distinctive entity unto themselves, making for an incredible diverse yet succinct listen.
There was never any doubt the quality 'Permanent Damage' would present given the run of releases behind it so far, but hearing it all together makes for an incredibly enjoying listen. Sprawling, heartfelt, and adventurous at every turn, Joesef could find himself one of the most in-demand names doing the rounds thanks to this release.
2. Sufjan Stevens - ‘Javelin’
What We Said…
Throughout his expansive two-and-a-half decade long career to date, Sufjan Stevens has always been seen as one of the more inventive and explorative names doing the rounds. While largely honed towards a more alternative folk agenda throughout the years, he has also been keen to invite a more diverse entity into his work, creating these wonderfully broad and innovative releases in the process. But after a string of personal tragedies so far this year, he returns with his tenth studio album 'Javelin', a record brimming with raw and heartfelt emotion.
After suffering the death of his partner Evans Richardson in April this year, he was also recently diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome in the months leading up to this new full-length, giving 'Javelin' an entirely new context to anything he has previously shared. But despite the sheer pain and loss he has felt these last few months, his latest outing stands as one of his brightest and most euphoric to date. Finding joy and rejuvenation through his personal pain, this new collection continues to shine and illuminate through it all.
While the headlines surrounding Sufjan Stevens' recent personal life has been noting short of devastating, 'Javelin' sits as a shining light within his repertoire to date. With such a warm and inviting sense to its conception, he continues to present himself as one of the modern era's most beloved songwriters.
1. Young Fathers - ‘Heavy Heavy’
What We Said…
Ever since they first emerged with their stunning breakthrough debut LP 'Dead' in 2014, Scottish trio Young Fathers have been one of the most beloved and innovative names on the scene ever since. With a brilliantly distinctive direction that blends a multitude of aesthetics lifted from the worlds of hip-hop, indie, electronica and so much more, they have delivered time and time again throughout their career to date. But now it feels like they have reached a zenith within their sound with their fourth full-length 'Heavy Heavy', a record that breathes tremendous life and passion from start to finish.
While much of their older material seemed to exist within a more sombre and atmospheric ideal, 'Heavy Heavy' roars straight out of the gate with some of their most impactful and euphoric material to date. The general tone of this new collection brims with rich and luxurious textures that allow the three members complete freedom to express themselves throughout. Rarely faltering or finding a moment to quieten down, they look to have pulled off a personal masterpiece here.
While Young Fathers' legacy has always been a critically-acclaimed one, 'Heavy Heavy' feels like a fresh and adventurous step forward within their sound to date. With so much bright and uplifting energy threaded throughout each track, there is hardly a moment that they aren't pushing themselves to deliver greatness and intrigue amongst this full-length.