Toro Y Moi – Mahal
Released on Dead Oceans
The veteran chillwave guy goes all out on his seventh album, pulling in more styles than you can count and making them all more or less breezy together. It would be pretty hard not to find something you can respond to on here, unless you’re one of those people that only listens to powerviolence and shuns everything else as not being pure enough or whatever. At any rate, Chaz Bundick walks the line between psych and electronic admirably, unable at last to be pigeonholed, escaping through your fingers just when you think you’ve pegged him down.
Let’s Eat Grandma – Two Ribbons
Released on Transgressive Records
An excellent synth pop outing from a duo I’ve taken to calling Weird Chvrches. Come on, it fits: they both trade in big, buzzy, dance-floor ready synth bangers, but Lauren takes everything seriously and Let’s Eat Grandma let a bit of light and levity slip through the cracks here and there. There are also (like half an album’s worth of) vulnerable ballads here, which add a dose of subtlety and texture that similar groups sometimes skip out on.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Emotional Eternal
Released on Domino Records
Classic French pop mixed with sunny, loving psychedelia. It’s a bit less mysterious than it used to be, and a whole lot more comfortable with itself. Light and airy enough to suggest that maybe you don’t need drugs to have a good time after all.
Kelly Lee Owens – Lp.8
Released on Smalltown Supersound
Ambient pop music that straddles cloudy bliss and creeping dread, with moments of 1000-yard stare programming to churn up all your bad old memories while you’re listening. My only real complaint is that it doesn’t do enough to launch out from her excellent 2020 record Inner Song; it’s more or less another circle around the target, and she has so much more room to grow beyond that.
Röyksopp – Profound Mysteries
Released on Dog Triumph
The pairing of the Norwegian duo with Alison Goldfrapp on vocals sounds like an absolute easy dunk, and it is, but it also changes their sound in subtle, delightful ways. There’s more push and pull on their sixth album, less aggression and more ebb and flow. It’s like they opened the windows and let ghosts in to haunt the shadowed parts of their songs, with Goldfrapp playing the part of the medium.
dälek – Precipice
Released on Ipecac Records
I first got into this group in 2009, when they were still on the same doom trip they’d been on since 2002. Twenty years after that debut, they’re still doing the same thing. They have certainly perfected their sludge-rap stance, even if they’ve clearly never even considered the possibility of growth.
Frog Eyes – The Bees
Released on Paper Bag Records
Two decades on from their debut, Carey Mercer and Co. keep making uncomfortable indie rock, with a yelp that still sounds like a weirder take on Dave Bidini’s voice. Not bad at all, especially considering they’d called it quits four years ago. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of a small mind but it still makes for a pretty rockin’ band.
Bloc Party – Alpha Games ★★★ (BMG)
Future – I Never Liked You ★★★ (Epic)
Rammstein – Zeit ★★★☆ (Universal)
Girlpool – Forgiveness ★★★ (ANTI-)
Tomberlin – i don’t know who needs to hear this… ★★★ (Saddle Creek)
Hey, ILY! – Psychokinetic Love Songs ★★★ (Lonely Ghost)
Shilpa Ray – Portrait Of A Lady ★★★☆ (Northern Spy)
Market – The Consistent Brutal Bullshit Gong ★★★ (Western Vinyl)
Honeyglaze – Honeyglaze ★★★ (Speedy Wunderground)
Scalping – Void ★★★☆ (Houndstooth)
Chelsea Jade – Soft Spot ★★★ (Carpark)
Helms Alee – Keep This Be The Way ★★★☆ (Sargent House)
The Gathering – Beautiful Distortion ★★☆ (Psychonaut)
Many Voices Speak – Gestures ★★☆ (Strangers Candy)
Loose Fit – Social Graces ★★★☆ (FatCat)
Organ Tapes – Chang Zhe Na Wu Ren Wen Jin De Ge Yao ★★★ (Worldwide Unlimited)
Congotronics International – Where’s The One? ★★★☆ (Congotronics International)