Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love
A return to form for the reunited riot grrrl pioneers, filled to capacity with their signature crunching guitars and breathless, animated vocals.
Imagine the crushing blow of a devastating heartbreak. Add jittery electronic beats, Björk’s powerful voice and a string section, and you’ve just about got a sense of the latest album from Iceland’s reigning queen of experimental pop.
Mark Ronson: Uptown Special
This funk-inspired album sticks with Ronson’s tried-and-tested slick production, and features guest appearances by Stevie Wonder and author Michael Chabon.
Natalie Prass: Natalie Prass
Lushly orchestrated and elegantly arranged pop, steeped in Americana and soulful nostalgia.
Dan Mangan + Blacksmith: Club Meds
Experimental rock from the Canadian singer-songwriter and his matching bearded band.
Belle and Sebastian: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Once considered shorthand for anything twee and indie, Belle and Sebastian throw disco flourishes and dry humour into this ninth studio album.
Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
More of the playful, psychedelia-inspired and experimental music we’ve come to expect from the Animal Collective band member’s solo project.
Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night
Dylan tries his hand at a series of Sinatra-affiliated old standards from the great American songbook – unexpected, but lovely.
Jessica Pratt: On Your Own Love Again
Delicate, folksy songs from the LA-based singer-songwriter, on her second album.
Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear
Navel-gazing yet potent songwriting from former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, under his Misty moniker.
Viet Cong: Viet Cong
Guitar squalls and pounding drums abound on this debut full-length release from the Canadian post-punk band.
Susanne Sundfør: Ten Love Songs
A collection of beautifully crafted songs, in that trusted tradition of emotive and euphoric Scandinavian pop.
Drake: If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late
Self-reflection mingles with bravado on this bass-heavy surprise release from the Canadian rapper.
Nikki Lane: All or Nothin’
Lane huskily addresses heartbreak and lust on lap steel guitar-heavy songs.
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
A crushingly personal collection of acoustic guitar-led songs tackling Stevens’s childhood and the death of his mother.
Fantasma: Free Love
An ebullient release from the South African band, spanning kwaito, Zulu folk and electronic music.
Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Barnett can turn the most seemingly mundane topics – house-hunting, insomnia or swimming in a public pool – into scuzzy, indie-pop demonstrations of lyrical prowess.
Marina and the Diamonds: Froot
Tight electropop steeped in introspection from the Welsh singer-songwriter, on this third album.
Matthew E White: Fresh Blood
The Spacebomb record label and studio founder mines soul sensibilities on this beautifully produced second album.
Pops Staples: Don’t Lose This
The blues master’s last set of recordings, released years after his death and featuring his daughter Mavis on backing vocal duties.
Marc Almond: The Velvet Trail
Big-chorus pop from the former Soft Cell frontman, still comfortably making music in his own right.
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly
A dense and powerful album, spanning jazz, funk and neo-soul influences while tackling both personal and social politics.
Nadine Shah: Fast Food
A passionate and intense album, marked by Shah’s distinctive, resonant alto voice and piercing electric guitar riffs.
Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
Moody and introspective rap verses over jittery, self-produced beats on the Odd Future crew member’s latest.
East India Youth: Culture of Volume
A bold and expansive exploration of the limits of experimental pop with a synth-driven edge.
Blur: The Magic Whip
After 12 years away, the Britpop four-piece return for this unexpected release that turns some loose jam sessions in Hong Kong into a joyful reunion.
It took 14 albums for the post-punk pioneers to opt for an eponymous release, and Wire – poppy and self-assured – doesn’t disappoint.
Young Fathers: White Men Are Black Men Too
A defiantly pop-driven release from the experimental, Mercury prize-winning Scottish trio.
Stealing Sheep: Not Real
Moving away from their so-called pagan-pop debut, the Liverpudlian trio sweep into sparkling, synth-laden artpop territory.
Bop English: Constant Bop
The White Denim frontman chucks a mix of sonic influences at the wall on this eclectic debut.
Listen to a selection of songs from the best albums released between January and April, using the Spotify player below:
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Multi-Love
A polyamorous relationship’s disintegration provides the source material for this eclectic album, which mashes together elements of psychedelia and classic soul.
Holly Herndon: Platform
Herndon explores the emotional capacity of the laptop as an instrument. That might sound ridiculous and pretentious, but the results make for challenging, textured and heavily cerebral electronic music.
Mbongwana Star: From Kinshasa
The Congolese band defy world music stereotypes on this debut, made with Dublin-born DJ and producer Liam Farrell.
Róisín Murphy: Hairless Toys
The electronic music producer and former Moloko frontwoman adds another feather to her genre-spanning cap, this time with disco, house and an unexpected country flourish.
Django Django: Born Under Saturn
A warm, psychedelic offering from the London-based four-piece, picking up where their critically adored 2012 debut left off.
Mackenzie Scott goes for a full-on dissection of her upbringing and coming-of-age journey on this PJ Harvey soundalike album of 90s-style guitar fuzz.
Hot Chip: Why Make Sense?
Catchy, funk-driven electropop from the band who’ve made house-inspired dancefloor fillers their MO.
The R&B singer-songwriter maintains his outsider status on this third album of funk-psychedelia, loverman innuendo and his signature and choruses.
The Orb: Moonbuilding 2703 AD
Four songs of slow-burning ambient house fill the duo’s 13th album with the warmth and dynamism that first set their career off more than 20 years ago.
A$AP Rocky: At. Long. Last. A$AP
Harlem’s “pretty motherfucker” returns to his tuned-down, Houston rap-inspired roots, opting for psychedelic guitars, sticky and slow melodies and references to a life centred on love, sex and drugs.
Jenny Hval: Apocalypse, Girl
A synth-driven, alt-pop exploration of gender and sexuality – which the Norwegian singer-songwriter has dubbed “soft dick rock”.
Gengahr: A Dream Outside
Pop melodies abound over the indie four-piece’s scuzzy guitars on this commanding debut.
Jamie xx: In Colour
Part nostalgia trip, part club-culture anthropology project, this album obsesses over the past while showing off Jamie’s cutting-edge production skills.
Zhala, signed to Robyn’s label, Konichiwa Records, combines her Kurdish heritage and Scandinavian pop chops on an effervescent album of dancefloor-primed electropop.
Wolf Alice: My Love Is Cool
The London four-piece sweep 1990s and noughties alt-rock influences into this fervent, shouty and exuberant debut offering.
Tame Impala: Currents
Kevin Parker’s third studio album kicks his signature pysch-rock into synth-driven gear, sounding poppier than ever before.
Ghostface Killah: Adrian Young Presents Twelve Reasons to Die II
A gangster’s tale, adapted from a comic book, anchors this second collaborative effort between Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface and film score composer Adrian Younge.
Omar Souleyman: Bahdeni Nami
The prolific Syrian wedding singer releases a second studio album. This time Four Tet, Gilles Peterson and duo Modeselektor produce his latest collection of hyperactive Middle Eastern folk over electronic beats.
Wilco: Star Wars
A surprise release from Jeff Tweedy’s indie band, combining glam-rock and pop with splashes of psychedelia.
Sleaford Mods: Key Markets
On this latest studio album the Nottingham duo still sound on-brand and angry, spitting Jason Williamson’s caustic lyrics over Andrew Fearn’s minimal basslines and synthesised beats.
Four Tet: Morning/Evening
A beautifully textured album built around Bollywood soundtrack samples and released by Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden a week early – to honour the summer solstice, of course.
Ahmad Jamal: Live in Marciac 2014
In August 2014 the jazz piano octogenarian played a sparkling and dynamic live set at a festival in France, the results of which can be heard on this album.
Ezra Furman: Perpetual Motion People
Though he’s made his name as a striking live act, Furman throws a potent energy into this personal album of cathartic rock’n’roll.
Mac DeMarco: Another One
The singer-songwriter pours lilting guitars over this indiepop mini-album, singing about love and relationships in his signature, scratchy falsetto.
Chelsea Wolfe: Abyss
Wolfe makes the most of her crippling sleep paralysis, using it as the inspiration for this fifth drone-pop album’s metal-inspired guitars and hazy vocals.
Destroyer: Poison Season
Dan Bejar channels both Springsteen and Lou Reed on this skilfully written follow-up to 2011’s Kaputt.
Beach House: Depression Cherry
There’s more lush, gauzy indie on offer from the Baltimore dreampop duo on this warm and textured body of work.
Royal Headache: High
This album of crashing garage-rock almost led to the Australian punk band’s split – but thankfully they stuck together and saw it through.
Motörhead: Bad Magic
For all frontman Lemmy’s health problems, the metal veterans continue to bash out their brand of raucous and swaggering rock with the gusto of musicians 30 years their junior.
Listen to a selection of songs from some of the best albums released from May to August, using the player below:
Lana Del Rey: Honeymoon
She’s shaken off the guitar-heavy sound of Dan Auerbach’s production on 2014’s Ultraviolence and retreated back into the soft cocoon of strings and breathy melancholy that made fans love her in the first place.
The Libertines: Anthems for Doomed Youth
The “boys in the band” are back, sounding as though they’ve recorded songs in a professional studio with a full-time engineer for a change. Kudos to Jake Gosling for that extra buff of polish.
Empress Of: Me
Lorely Rodriguez bares her innermost thoughts – reacting to street harassment, sleeping in fear with a machete beneath her pillow in Mexico – on this tightly produced album of synth-driven R&B. It’s a step above the usual hipster R&B fare, honest.
Julia Holter: Have You in My Wilderness
Holter’s stunning fourth album pulls together influences from experimental pop, baroque pop and sprawling orchestral arrangements.
Low: Ones and Sixes
Eleven LPs into their 21-year career, Low have made a beautiful album of tight and minimal indie.
Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes explores a treasure trove of mostly Middle Eastern recordings, repurposing them into psychedelic wig-outs with the help of band Toy and producer Dan Carey.
New Order: Music Complete
After a lineup rejig – goodbye to bassist Peter Hook, hello again to keyboardist Gillian Gilbert – the band sound primed and ready for the dancefloor, armed with guest spots from Iggy Pop, Brandon Flowers and La Roux.
Kurt Vile: b’lieve i’m goin down
The Pennsylvania-born singer-songwriter channels Lauren Canyon on an album filled with plucked guitar melodies that wriggle into your mind and make themselves at home.
Protomartyr: The Agent Intellect
These Detroit post-punkers have poured the misery of their city’s decline and a few more personal musings into a cathartic third album.
Deerhunter: Fading Frontier
Bradford Cox somehow turns the aftermath of a broken jaw and pelvis – the result of being hit by a car in 2014 – into this decidedly upbeat, gentle guitar-pop album.
Jean-Michel Jarre: Electronica 1 – The Time Machine
Jarre crams a glut of collaborators – including Laurie Anderson, concert pianist Lang Lang and DJ Boys Noize – on to an explosive 16-track album that reminds us of his frontrunner status in electronic music.
Joanna Newsom: Divers
Love or hate her cooing voice, Newsom continues to display a practically peerless approach to sumptuous songwriting. And she sounds more self-assured than ever, on this fourth album.
Pure Bathing Culture: Pray for Rain
The Portland-based duo’s second album deals in a most intoxicating type of indiepop, pairing dark lyrics with sparkly hooks and melodies.
John Grant: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
Grant follows up the incredible Pale Green Ghosts with an album that confronts his status living with HIV and slow amble into middle age with the brand of black humour that’s become his calling card.
Jamie Woon: Making Time
The Brit School graduate, formerly lumped in with the “post-dubstep” crowd, goes for full-on soul with this satin-smooth second album.
Anna von Hausswolff: The Miraculous
Ringing organ chords, howled vocals and nods to drone-folk and metal reverberate through the Swedish singer-songwriter’s dark and emotive third album.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Paper Mâché Dream Balloon
The Aussie seven-piece have prettied up their brand of psychedelia, shifting to brushed acoustic guitar lines and joyous hooks on this 1960s-era flower-power pop.
Nadia Reid: Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs
Gruff electric guitar tousles with New Zealander Reid’s smokily sung folk, on this debut centred on incisive lyrics and supple, undulating melodies.
Disconcerting electronic music that jolts you about and evades the standard structures of pop: it’s FKA twigs and Björk collaborator Alejandro Ghersi’s second album this year.
Tinariwen: Live in Paris, Oukis N’Asuf
The Tuareg desert blues band shine in a live setting, as demonstrated by this album recorded in Paris in December 2014, featuring guest appearances by Tamashek singer Lalla Badi.
Floating Points: Elaenia
You may know Sam Shephard as a late-night DJ, but here he fuses jazz, ambient electronica and cocoon-like warm synths on a beautiful slow-burner of an album.
Listen to a selection of songs from the best albums released from September to November using the Spotify player below: