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Although June is far from over, many pop culture publications are already publishing their lists of the best albums released so far this year. This tradition is often reserved for a time closer to the end of the month, but in recent years, the trend of journalism towards listicles and away from longform writing may have led to these lists arriving within just days of the month’s start.
In a way, though, this timing makes a world of sense. What better time to gather a list of new albums to listen to than right as summer vacation season begins to truly accelerate? Any of these three albums released so far this year just might prove the ultimate soundtrack for that next road trip or flight.
Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising
[April 5, Sub Pop]
At the moment, Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising has the highest Metacritic score (weighted average of music critics’ scores) of any album of completely new material released in 2019. That whopping 91 Metascore across 25 reviews is more than justified: Titanic Rising is a collection that showcases one of this decade’s most fascinating rock musicians tapping into her strongest melodic, songwriting, and arranging instincts, turning her grief over a future lost to climate change, friends lost to suicide, and romances lost to the oddities of online dating into a breathtaking, endlessly replayable document that combines psychedelia, soft rock, and folk.
Cate Le Bon: Reward
[May 24, Mexican Summer]
Over the course of the decade, Cate Le Bon has informed the course of indie rock from the margins. On Reward, one of May 2019’s best albums, she finally steps into the spotlight. Instead of writing her complexly arranged, idiosyncratic, surreal songs on the guitar, for Reward, she birthed her songs sitting in front of a piano, and her methodology shift manifests as her most accessible songs to date. The album is as gentle and freewheeling as it is a clear product of extensive labor and highly considered musicianship, a feat of spine-tingling singing and off-kilter, folk-influenced arrangements that few albums this year have paralleled.
Nilüfer Yanya: Miss Universe
[March 22, ATO]
Not many artists arrive with as big a bang as Nilüfer Yanya did back in 2017. That year, her first three singles won her critical acclaim across the board, even with little in the way of a full album in sight. Finally, this past March, Yanya released her debut LP, Miss Universe, which meets the high standards those early singles set. Across the album, Yanya leapfrogs among genres, keeping her instincts for cathartic dynamic shifts and unforgettable melodies intact as she does. Tying all her disparate threads together is her awe-inducing voice, which is one of the few voices that can actually be compared to that of an incomparable legend: Sade.
What are your favorite albums released so far this year? Share them in the comments!