94. –Noah Yoo, By the time Bad Bunny dropped his debut LP on Christmas Eve 2018, the Puerto Rican star had already demonstrated fluency in the trap, R&B, and reggaetón sounds that dominate urbano music through a deluge of hit singles and features. Skip to content . It’s self-conscious stuff, to be sure, with highlight “Wake Up Next to God” reveling in the G-force of self-torment. Frank Ocean — Channel Orange. 09 October 2019. “I don’t want to be touched all the time/I raised my body up to be mine,” the folk-rocker declares on the upbeat highlight “Head Alone.” A number of the songs beautifully capture what it’s like to inhabit your own (single) body again, or suggest how to convert love felt for an ex into something else (eventually), always with a focus on Jacklin’s warm-milk voice. The whole thing is recorded grittily—a garage band’s lo-fi aesthetic applied to hip-hop. For all the clever syntheses in MAGDALENE’s production—polyphonic vocals wisping over bass shudders; operatic trills distorted into grisly yelps—twigs is desperately clear in her words. On her finely wrought fourth LP, the former Rilo Kiley leader spins more novelistic tales about stragglers, addicts, and heartbreakers. You can hear its selflessness in the myriad tones, instruments, voices, and happy accidents that come and go, subverting ego while sidestepping excess. You can see its vision of egalitarianism across the LP’s inner gatefold, which shows obscured portraits of the 52 people who helped create the record. Odd lines and textures linger: an incongruous maraca, a chorus that falls away to leave Harding eerily silhouetted against sparse piano, a world map with a pin in Dubai. But real empathy comes from a deeper place: the personal growth that necessitated the songs’ existence. On her fourth album as Weyes Blood, L.A. singer-songwriter Natalie Mering coos laughably old-fashioned lines like “treat me right, I’m still a good man’s daughter” while referencing the cosmic loneliness of modern dating. And what does one’s legacy look like when the future isn’t guaranteed? Singing his sorrow so nakedly, with so little reserve, Cave asks the world to bear witness to the love he’s shared and his cavernous, neverending loss. Pitchfork may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. Nothing, it seems—neither time, nor age, nor a shifting cultural landscape—can chip away at their self-delighted gleam, their garish sophistication, their heartbroken contentment. –Alex Frank. Over the album’s inky expanse, Olsen tries out an entirely new, gothic corner of her record collection: The Cure’s Disintegration, Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Meanwhile, the closing “I Wouldn’t Ask You,” about Cottrill’s struggle with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is born directly from fresh pain: A choir of children lifts the song up, and you’re reminded how, in early adulthood, you wonder if you’re ever going to figure life out. December 5, 2019 9:00AM ET The 50 Best Albums of 2019 From ‘Lover’ to ‘Cuz I Love You,’ ‘Death Race to Love,’ and beyond, here are the records that defined the year Like a freshly polished lens, the album’s eclectic production only pulls Van Etten’s songwriting into sharper focus. Check out all of Pitchfork’s 2019 wrap-up coverage here. On the Bajan-British MC’s debut album, Nothing Great About Britain, he even tosses in a sample from an ancient doc about glue-sniffing—that proud, crusty pastime. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated as of 1/1/21) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated as of 1/1/21) and Your California Privacy Rights. “Sh’diah”—which Vernon began writing the morning after the 2016 election, with a title that stands for “shittiest day in American history”—fights the ugliness of modern politics with an understated call for rationality. And it’s clear Vick is deeply emotionally invested in the company she keeps: the album highlight is “Get Well Soon,” a masterful nudge to a recovering, possibly-in-denial friend. Perhaps that’s why slowthai, a grime MC from the nowheresville dead-center of England, often feels so punk. But Spawn isn’t a computer simulation made to appear human, like other recent CGI novelties. But it’s important to remember what Berman’s friends at Drag City said following his death: His music didn’t predict his death; it was written despite his depression. Def Jam. For his debut album, Utility, Barker dug into his archives to see which of his old sketches sounded good when he stripped them back to the studs. Critic Score. His 2017 album Flower Boy was a disarming journey into self-discovery, but Igor is even more revealing, as Tyler wrestles with the fact that maybe he doesn’t have everything figured out. –Anna Gaca, Crumb’s debut LP has some hallmarks of a band that would be popular in 2019: jazz-influenced psych rock with crisp drums that brace an otherwise warbly, lo-fi aesthetic, complete with honeyed vocals dripped into the mix. Inescapable spirals of desire—whether for control, companionship, or instant gratification—are manifested as voids desperate to be filled. Sometimes those two things complement each other nicely; sometimes they don’t. Following two fairly lo-fi records of eerily intertwined introspection, they find their own distinct voices within heavier soundscapes of emo-tinged slowcore and distorted dream pop. These are the albums that defined the sound of metal in 2019. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. “Create the vague you need,” Tucker murmurs on murky closer “Roses,” doing just that. The London quartet’s debut album, Schlagenheim, juggles flashy technical sophistication and raw fuck-you energy in a way that sometimes inspires older listeners to draw up lists of comparisons. By Pitchfor k. December 10, 2019… But Remind Me Tomorrow cracks her style open like a geode: The roadhouse soul of “You Shadow” is halfway between Motown and Massive Attack; “Seventeen” arrives decades too late for the John Hughes closing credits it deserves; “Jupiter 4,” titled after a vintage Roland synthesizer, sounds like a gothic take on slowcore. The Practice of Love asks more questions than it answers: Are we more responsible to ourselves or to our species? Lewis reveals the human nature at the core of her characters even when it’s unseemly, never judging people’s vices or decisions. And so she puts her faith in trees, the ocean, her friends, and, finally, herself. She molds her desires into flexes. Listen to selections from this list on our Spotify playlist and Apple Music playlist. –Vrinda Jagota. Of course, they sound goofy at first. 18 reviews. But form-defying freakouts like “bmbmbm” sound so certain they’re the future of guitar music, you’ll probably want to believe it, too. Since first emerging as a prodigious one-man songwriting machine earlier this decade, Alex Giannascoli has remained tapped into an ever-flowing stream of idiosyncratic excellence. 73. –Julianne Escobedo Shepherd. –Mike Powell, In one sense, Blood Incantation are traditionalists. –Jayson Greene, Listen/Buy: Rough Trade | Apple Music | Tidal, By the time Big Thief released U.F.O.F. With ANIMA, the 51-year-old embraced meaty production while maintaining his taste for digital glitches and melodic sprawl, coming away with his finest solo album yet. For No Home Record, she worked with producer Justin Raisen, whose credits include the Kim-indebted brooder Sky Ferreira and experimental shapeshifter Yves Tumor, and the pair conjure a dissonant, avalanche-sized sound. At times, listening to PROTO can feel like being immersed in a language you’re only just beginning to understand, where obvious phrases seem to stick out of inappropriate contexts and the familiar is not quite so. Nick Cave confronts this reality on Ghosteen, the first album he wrote and recorded in full after the tragic accidental death of his teen son, Arthur. But even going the comfortable route, she is constantly disrupting her own ’70s soft rock pastiche with sounds that represent the future—space-age synths, satellites trying to connect. –Noah Yoo, On What Chaos Is Imaginary, Girlpool’s Avery Tucker and Harmony Tividad push past any lingering codependent habits from their teenage years of writing together. “Get Yr Life Back” sits uneasily atop tensely arranged found-sound; “Sketch Artist” seems to be tearing itself apart; “Paprika Pony” rides a minimal toy-piano rap beat that sounds like it was created by the world’s most sinister toddler. A list of the top albums of the year from Pitchfork (Metal). Sure, Radiohead’s “Idioteque” kind of banged, and the singer has been known to flail around to syncopated rhythms from time to time. The album is a wonderful scenario for an artist a decade into their career: a rewarding balance of consistency and growth, with subtle experimentation instead of the common midcareer misstep of transparently grabbing for radio play. The pop-forward “Who You Are” finds Dabice tackling self-loathing, settling on a kind of acceptance that sounds simple but is anything but. In 2019, the musical landscape was as fractured and multifarious as the world around it. House of Sugar is his most ambitious and immersive album yet. She finds solace in the frequent repetition of phrases and calls on powerful forebears for guidance, be they Alice Coltrane, Steve Reich, or DJ Screw. Future generations will marvel that one album contained “Venice Bitch” and “Mariners Apartment Complex” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but i have it.” And they will scoff in disbelief that Lana Del Rey was once treated as anything but the poet laureate of a world on fire. –Anna Gaca. Are you hearing these songs, or spying on them? See which albums are sitting at the top of this year's charts. U.F.O.F, the first of two stellar albums the band released this year, sounds at once exploratory and wise, as if they are both seeing the world with fresh wonder while explaining the way things have always been. Tragic and hilarious and self-absorbed and cathartic all at the same time—that’s PUP for you. “Priority Change” swaggers with shy pride in its chord changes, while Lilitri complains of “being trapped in binary code.” “Dig” gets the balance just about right, with a gloriously smeared chorus in which he’s “still reeling from the mess I made.” Gems like “Impossible Game” find drama in the effort to invest meaning in well-worn metaphors of open roads and unknowable partners. FKA twigs — Magdalene. On "Hollywood," the double LP's 14-minute closing track, Cave viscerally summarizes his broken heart. –Eric Torres, In 2019, black midi taught a new generation of indie kids that prog and punk aren’t as different as sometimes advertised. In a hyperspeed world, it is increasingly meaningful to sit with the vision of one artist for an extended period of time. Each song is named after a creative titan of color (Betty Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Frida Kahlo, etc. After eight years, five albums, and complete political and cultural upheaval, Lana Del Rey has risen to her greatest musical heights. 15 reviews) #1 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds 96 Ghosteen (self-released) Buy From Amazon. But even going the comfortable route, she is constantly disrupting her own ’70s soft rock pastiche with sounds that represent the future—space-age synths, satellites trying to connect. Pitchfork's Best Jazz Albums of 2019. Slant: The 25 Best of Albums of 2019 1. Pitchfork: The 50 Best Albums of 2019. 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