You’re heading into that portion of the year where if you buy a few Christmas presents per month, you might not bankrupt yourself in December. Think of the smile on Grandad’s face when he unwraps a bit of vinyl from this list. He might have said he wanted new slippers but…
METRONOMY – METRONOMY FOREVER
Because Music | September 13th
In an attempt to recapture the naive self-sufficiency of his earliest recordings, Joseph Mount temporarily reclaimed Metronomy as a solo project in 2016 and produced Summer ‘08, a nostalgic set capturing the chaos of the band’s beginnings. At the time, it was billed as a back-to-basics statement of intent. In reality, Summer ‘08 seems to have functioned as a palette cleanser for Mount, as evidenced by his subsequent, sterling work branching out on productions for Robyn and Jessie Ware. And yet, this sixth LP provides the most compelling evidence yet that Mount has turned a corner creatively.
Perhaps it’s swapping the bustle of Paris for the bucolic surrounds of Kent, perhaps it’s reuniting with the rest of the band: whatever the reason, Mount sounds more relaxed than he has in years. Consequently, Metronomy Forever possesses a playfulness and an effortless sophistication that was often lacking from the comparatively sluggish Summer ‘08.
‘Wedding Bells’ is an instant highlight, a cross-pollination of Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids In America’ and John Hughes-movie wistfulness, while ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ is ridiculously moreish, its buoyant melody liberally sprinkled with kitsch keyboard effects. Lead single ‘Lately’ is better still, its haunting vocal hook descending incrementally over taut guitar and sparkling keyboard arpeggios.
Structurally, Mount is taking risks too. Designed to evoke a radio-like listening experience, the album offers a constantly shifting carousel of styles, often interspersed with interludes. In less experienced hands, such a format could feel disjointed, but in Mount’s it’s immersive. Gemma Samways
ANNA LISA – UNFOLLOWED
Self-Release | 13th September
Your mind ought to be your friend – working with you, not against you. It is, ultimately, the thing that you follow. You can’t ‘unfriend’ it, or ‘unfollow’ it (that option where you remain ‘friends’ but you don’t have to heed its stupid posts).
Anna Lisa’s EP, Unfollowed, pulsates with Gen Z dread. The five tracks sound as vulnerably 4AM as Kate Tempest’s Let Them Eat Chaos. Dark electronic bass beats are like palpitations or migraine throbs. ‘Full’ sustains a dizzying, eddying pattern of notes. ‘Purple’ has a queasy synth functioning as a nauseous echo to the vocal. “Howling like a demon”, “trying to make it out in one piece” and “staring at the ceiling” are prominent actions. Has she unfollowed her self-sabotaging inner monologue? Not yet. Jon Kean
CHARLI XCX – CHARLI
Asylum/Atlantic Records | September 13th
From early Soundcloud success, teen movie anthems, and transformative mixtapes, it’s fair to say Charli XCX has shed any doubts about being merely a one-hit wonder. Love her or not, her presence is inescapable and entirely uncompromising as she prepares to release her third studio album – the eponymous Charli.
Certainly, it’s her most eclectic release to date, though the monotonous, hyperactive trills of ‘Next Level Charli’ definitely wrongfoot this notion. It’s composed as though on a sugar rush.
When it peaks, though, it’s clear to see why there’s so much buzz surrounding the artist. Take ‘1999’ with Troye Sivan, which shines through as a vibrant, glossy pop marvel, a jewel in the crown of her career. Because let’s be honest, she’s royalty-tier now. Harriet Taylor
BODYWASH – COMFORTER
Luminelle Records | August 30th
Montréal’s Bodywash sit comfortably between experimental chaos and a calm serenity on their outstanding debut album, Comforter. ‘Reverie’ kicks off the hazy, dream-like atmosphere of the record, and the track’s beat transitions maintain an upbeat energy throughout, contrasting with its closing counterpart. ‘Twins’ presents Bodywash at their finest, blending harmonic vocals and pulsating synths as the band seek peace and emotional stability, a concept later torn apart as the spectacular ‘With Heat’ layers heart-wrenching guitars with a bittersweet sense of longing. Imaginative and emotionally raw, Comforter remains hypnotic throughout every track, as the gold-tinted waves of ‘Sunspots’ move effortlessly through ‘Eye to Eye’ and into the distorted soundscapes of ‘Reprise’ and ‘Paradisiac’. Kelly Ronaldson
JERKCURB – AIR CON EDEN
Handsome Dad Records | September 13th
Family ties inspired Jacob Read AKA Jerkcurb’s obsession with all things Americana of old. With his parents residing there before he was born, Air Con Eden is the sound of Read piecing those memories together through nostalgia-soaked love letters and whimsical ballads. His bedroom pop sensibilities remain, but this is a vision that feels vastly widescreen this time around.
Read weaves charming stories throughout his songwriting in the same vein as Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, one of the UK’s most creative forces, and Read has an equally adept ear for a hook, even if it’s on a more stripped-back basis. ‘Water’s unfussy keys are a perfect example; melancholic, desolate and barely there, yet enticing. Jacob Read can seemingly produce something essential from almost nothing. Lee Wakefield
(SANDY) ALEX G – HOUSE OF SUGAR
Domino Records | September 13th
A long drawling howl flows into plucking guitars, disjointed harmonies and contrasting rich layers of metallic twanging. As they soften, the words “not today” repeatedly break through, driving forward the pulsating cumulation. Here, (Sandy) Alex G is displaying an expansion of his melodic talents. His latest release House of Sugar is characterised by its combined elements of country music with dense and meticulously-curated textures from strings and fuzzy synthesisers. It feels like a natural progression from low-fi bedroom creations to a slicker studio operation, with tracks like ‘Project 2’ toying with 80s drum machines while robotic vocal distortion adds flair to ‘Sugar’. This is (Sandy) Alex G’s most progressive work yet, proving he’s moved away from being a cult prodigy to one of the industry’s most prolific artists. Georgia Evans
BAT FOR LASHES – LOST GIRLS
AWAL Recordings | September 6th
Bat for Lashes’ latest release Lost Girls is inspired by night time LA drives, soundtracking an 80s cult classic film which only exists in singer-songwriter Natasha Khan’s head. The joyful funk guitar licks, ominous melodies, and tales of coming of age escapades set the scene for the album. The record opens with the buoyant synth-pop of ‘Kids in the Dark’, equal parts nostalgia and regret. Each song acts as a vignette in Khan’s imaginary film noir; ‘Feel For You’ is the steely, dance number in a pivotal club scene, while the earworm pop of ‘So Good’ finds our protagonist questioning her lover’s commitment. Lost Girls benefits from Khan’s unwavering dedication to scoring the scenes in her head, transporting listeners to a world of pleasures unknown. Stephanie Phillips
EMILY BREEZE – RITUALS
SugarShack Records | 6th September
On Spotify, one can find a playlist of influences that spurred the creation of Rituals. There are gentle nods to the music of Patti Smith and Lee Hazelwood, though far from cannibalising these works, Breeze takes pleasure in making her music its own self-sustaining pillar to excess, full of candid ruminations, decadent pleasures and morbid curiosities.
Throughout, Breeze shines a black light on the highs and lows of living in the twenty-first century. For instance, the sample that leads ‘Heaven’s Gate’ – taken from a speech given by Marshall White, leader of the infamous nineties suicide cult – embodies the peculiar juxtaposition of Rituals’ themes. It’s that feeling of witnessing horrific acts with repulsion, the guilty allure of peeking at it between your fingers and the social ramifications. Harriet Taylor
REPO-MAN – I CAN LIVE WITH IT IF YOU CAN, SON
Stolen Body | 6th September
Noise, catharsis and being stand as the pillars of Repo-Man’s fantastically avant-garde third record, I Can Live with It If You Can, Son. Released via Stolen Body Records, this blistering collection of new cuts sees the band build upon the discordant doom of 2015’s Minesweeping with more venom and aggression than the snarling wit of Mark E Smith and Frank Carter combined.
Taking cues from as far afield as A Place to Bury Strangers, Nick Cave and The Fall, the music confined within its runtime proves to rest just as heavily on its lyricism as it does its sprawling tendrils of progressive riffage. Beyond the crashing waves of droning guitar and hypnotizing jazz passages, it’s Bojak’s foaming acidity that elevates this record to a monolithic peak. Sean Toohey
SAMPA THE GREAT – THE RETURN
Ninja Tune | September 13th
Sampa The Great’s debut LP, 19-track The Return, will cement her position as one of contemporary hip-hop’s freshest and most intriguing voices. Real name Sampa Tempo, the Melbourne-based artist has spent four years exploring notions of home, and notions of the outsider, harvesting inspiration from her birthplace of Zambia and Botswana, where she was raised. The result is a record that melds neo-soul with hip-hop, gospel and jazz. Though she makes her declaration in the opening tracks, The Return’s latter half is, musically, more solid, from the fiery and percussive ‘OMG’, to triumphant single ‘Final Form’, to the soulful, aching tenderness of closer ‘Made Us Better’. With a host of collaborators including London jazz outfits Steam Down and Blue Lab Beats, Sampa The Great marries warm, textured instrumentation and fiercely delivered lyricism with resounding success. Katie Thomas
G FLIP – ABOUT US
Future Classic | August 30th
Very few artists come forth with a knockout debut single, but last February, Georgia Flipo aka G Flip appeared out of nowhere with the 10/10 ‘About You’. We were ready to be hooked up to whatever drip of incessantly catchy percussion-heavy pop she had coming next. The Australian—deep breath—drum teacher-turned-multi-instrumentalist-bedroom producer has since released a host of brilliantly zestful singles.
The trop-pop warps of ‘Killing My Time’ and her ode to misanthropy on shuffle jam ‘Drink Too Much’ have been sure-fire standouts. Thankfully, G Flip has placed these singles on her debut album About Us, a collection of songs written largely about the on-off relationship with her girlfriend. Without those singles, the record’s tendency to veer into uninspired piano-laced balladry would regrettably overwhelm the record. Charlotte Krol