Mabel, High Expectations
Listed for the BBC Sound of 2016, this year’s Breakthrough Act at the Brits, and daughter to Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey – it’s fair to say that the British R&B singer’s debut album is keenly awaited, and it’s reflected in the title. Mabel says her album is “about the expectations I have of myself, other people’s expectations of me and vice versa, especially in relationships.” The album includes her breakthrough hit single in the US, Don't Call Me Up, as well as Mad Love and Fine Line, and features guest rappers Not3s, Kojo Funds, Stefflon Don and Jax Jones.
Rick Ross, Port of Miami 2
The highly-anticipated sequel to 2006’s Port of Miami debut that featured menacing rhymes about being a drug-game kingpin. It's jam-packed with high-profile guests, including previously heard collaborations with Drake, Wale, and Swizz Beatz, as well as Gunplay, Teyana Taylor, Jeezy, and Denzel Curry. There are also a couple of notable nods to the past. The cover features Ross holding a pendant with a photo of his friend and manager, Black Bo, who passed away in 2017, and Ross has also said that the late Nipsey Hussle will make an appearance on the album.
Slipknot, We Are Not Your Kind
The masked metal titans from Iowa have created a beast that is rare even by their extraordinary standards: a sixth album that proves they are still alive and fiercely kicking. Early reviews say the new album is intense, uneasy and experimental. The singles, All Out Life and Unsainted, are a chaotic cauldron of percussion, riffs and electronic stabs that sounds unlike anything else.
Friendly Fires, Inflorescent
After eight years away, the English dance-pop trio are back with their third album. Many wondered whether the band would ever come back after 2011's runaway success Pala, but childhood friends and bandmates Ed Macfarlane, Edd Gibson and Jack Savidge not only have returned but also seem rejuvenated. For the album, the band returned to Macfarlane’s parents’ garage where they recorded some of their earliest songs, and songs like Silhouette celebrate the Brazilian disco sound the band has always loved. Also appearing on the album are the anthemic singles from 2018, Love Like Waves and Heaven Let Me In.
Ride, This Is Not A Safe Place
The British shoegaze heroes continue their inspired, if unexpected, comeback. After 2016’s Weather Diaries and last year’s related EP Tomorrow’s Shores comes a new album recorded once again with Erol Alkan. The visual nod to 1990’s classic Nowhere on the new album cover should reassure fans that This Is Not A Safe Place continues the band’s legacy with trademark lush and psychedelic harmonies. The first single, Future Love, is a hazy, optimistic song about the beginning of a relationship, where anything seems possible.
Sleater-Kinney, Hold The Centre
The beloved riot grrrl band make a welcome return with their first new album in four years. The buzz has been amped up since revealing that the album is produced by Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, and with drummer Janet Weiss recently announcing her sudden departure from the band, saying “The band is heading in a new direction and it is time for me to move on.” Hold The Centre sees the band exploring new territories, experimenting with electronics, and charting the turbulent world of American politics, but if the singles are anything to go by, the band still haven’t lost their guttural punch.
Frank Turner, No Man's Land
What could be the most discussed album of the summer sees the troubadour creating an album that he says is dedicated “to telling the fascinating stories of women whose incredible lives have all too often been overlooked by dint of their gender.” Among the women featured are Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Byzantine princess Kassiani and Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha'arawi; the album was recorded with Foals/Wolf Alice producer Catherine Marks, and with an all-female band. Whether listeners or critics are willing to buy into a well-meaning concept delivered by a male singer is unsure, as Turner himself admits.
Taylor Swift, Lover
Taylor Swift’s follow-up to the dark and spiky Reputation is a much more bright and perky beast. We already know Panic! At The Disco's Brendon Urie guests on ME!, other guests are unknown… though now that Swift and Katy Perry have ended their bad blood, and that a hamburger-costume-wearing Katy Perry appears in the video for You Need To Calm Down, will their reconciliation be solidified in song? Lover has already broken records, becoming the most pre-ordered album by a female artist on its first day on Apple Music (170,000 digital copies).
Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell
The long wait for Lana Del Rey’s new album is almost over. Teased on social media and on stage for what seems like an eternity, the album trailer earlier this month offers a taste for what to expect. Produced by Jack Antonoff, the album features singles like Mariners Apartment Complex, Venice Bitch, and hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it, as well as her cover of Sublime’s Doin’ Time. This won’t be all we’ll hear this year; Del Rey is also set to release a new single with Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande for the upcoming Charlie’s Angels film.
Bon Iver, i, i
Another comma-kissed title from Justin Vernon, the fourth Bon Iver album has contributions from the likes of James Blake, Moses Sumney, and the Dessner brothers of The National. Vernon has described I, I as his “most adult record”, and it features the singles Hey, Ma and U (Man Like). Given how drastic the shift in sound was in the last album, 22, A Million – which saw Vernon trying to subvert musical form at any given opportunity – it will be interesting to see what surprises we discover with I, I.
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