It Is What It Is (CD)

Thundercat’s It Is What It Is is the type of funky, genre-smashing excursion that transforms each listening experience into a bright, summer day. “This album is about love, loss, life, and the ups and downs that come with that,” says Thundercat and sure enough, over the course of the album’s runtime, you’ve got upbeat moments of delight and you’ve got introspective, soulful passages. Because life is funny, so is Thundercat, with the songs benefiting from unexpected moments of humor in the midst of sultry turns and bouncy melodies. Produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat, the album also features special appearances by Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, and Zack Fox.

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KiCk I (CD)

As a Latinx nonbinary trans woman who’s work draws on club music, experimental noise, performance art, and the ballad tradition of her native Venezuela, Arca has redefined the role of the diva for a new generation. KiCk i is the first in a series of works, each with its own sonic theme. For this first installment, Arca pursues pleasure, dignity, and dance floor liberation by refracting club music, reggaeton, and pop through her radical vision.

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Believer (CD)

Norwegian electronic duo Smerz follow up two EPs with their full-length debut Believer. The album is eclectic and absorbing, centered around their soft, intense vocals. There are some style similarities to The Knife and Fever Ray, the latter especially in the murky, repetitive title track. Songs like "The favourite" are unexpectedly elegant and orchestral, while "I don't talk about that much" is swirling and intricate techno. The instrumental closing track, "Hva hvis" feels like one long, haunting exhalation, from somewhere out in the elements.

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The Blue Of Distance (CD)

Composer Elori Saxl's debut album is a beautiful set created with chamber instruments, samples of water and wind sounds that have been digitally processed, and analog synths. These pieces feel more like stories than your average ambient music, often building on layers and movement rather than meditative stillness. "Wave II" for example feels as if it's steadily propelling itself forward and even the peaceful "Wave I" maintains a walking melody throughout its warbly atmosphere. With The Blue of Distance, Saxl has painted an intriguing, living landscape that blurs the natural world with technology.

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Renaissance (LP)
For Aluna Francis's first solo album post-AlunaGeorge, she is joined by J Lloyd of Jungle, Kaytranada, Princess Nokia and others for a set that blends EDM, soul, dancehall, and UK garage into an interesting but accessible whole. Everything is elegant and subtle here, much like the smooth, funky single "Envious"; even a song like "Body Pump" is surprisingly soaring and melodic while still being a dance floor-ready. Album opener "I've Been Starting To Love All The Things I Hate" is uplifting and sweet-sounding, while "Get Paid" (with Nokia and Jada Kingdom) is a slick banger that still rises above the standard fare. Read more
We Will Always Love You (CD)

To say The Avalanches' new album is star-studded would be an understatement: We Will Always Love You features a guestlist that includes The Clash's Mick Jones, Leon Bridges, Johnny Marr, Karen O, Perry Farrell, and Blood Orange. The Australian electronic duo have created an intriguing set of soundscapes with each of these talented artists. "Interstellar Love" with Blood Orange is quietly soulful and pretty. "Take Care In Your Dreaming (feat. Denzel Curry, Tricky & Sampha The Great)," on the other hand, is an epic fusion of autotuned vocals, piano and rapped verses that somehow works.

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The Neon (CD)

Erasure reunites for the momentous occasion of their 18th studio album, The Neon, which follows 2017’s World Be Gone. Like the glowing hot substance of the title, the music evokes an exciting and energetic mood. The Neon is a place that lives in the imagination. It’s a place of possibility bathed in warm light and this is music that takes you there. Vince and Andy pull inspiration from pop music through the decades, from bands they loved and want to share with a new generation. The Neon connects us to our pasts and our futures as it glistens with hope.

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