Here we go. I’ll have more to say about many of these in my best albums of the decade list next week.
10. 100 gecs: 1000 gecs
What if SOPHIE, M.I.A., and Skrillex had two horrible children?
Listen: “Money Machine”
9. Control Top: Covert Contracts
Covert Contracts is the best straight-up punk rock album in…
…wow, so long that I’m not sure how to finish the sentence. Maybe since riot grrrl.
Listen: “Office Rage”
8. oso oso: basking in the glow
The production can make this album seem slight or small. But Jade Lillitri’s talent for pop punk melodies and capturing sentiments is colossal.
Listen: “basking in the glow”
7. The Regrettes: How Do You Love?
There’s one certainty in 2019, and it’s that Lydia Night, who released this sophomore album at just eighteen years old, is an innate talent. Some young artists sound gleeful to be making music and living their dream. She performs this power pop with the poise and seriousness of someone who has been making music for a lifetime.
Listen: “California Friends”
6. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
David Berman gave us a comeback album about how fucking unhappy he was. A month later, he had died by suicide. The album’s less of a bummer than that sounds, but that all-consuming fact remains.
But do what you can to listen for his lyricism. He was really one of the best.
Listen: “Just The Way That I Feel”
5. Charly Bliss: Young Enough
Young Enough is an impressive evolution for an already impressive band. Their sophomore album is, dare I say, slick, and the shine suits their rock a little more neatly. More vitally, they’re more aggressively tugging heartstrings, looking back at heartbreak and trauma and coming out on the other side stronger for it.
Listen: “Young Enough”
4. billy woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places
billy woods raps carefully and considerately about the despair of living in a system in which more and more people are falling into poverty, and about how being black both makes poverty both more likely and considerably more horrible and inescapable. Kenny Segal’s bleak but inventive and engaging production completes it and makes this among the best musical documents of the American empire’s love affair with leaving its own people behind.
3. Billie Eilish: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Her zoomer energy can seem like a gimmick, but the charm of nearly every song is so wildly different. Her brother’s production is so unique, but it’s still Billie’s magnetism as a performer who’s unafraid to act her age that makes this the most memorable album of 2019 by a fair bit.
Listen: “bury a friend”
2. Jamila Woods: LEGACY! LEGACY!
Jamila Woods is the most talented person on this list, and her celebration and investigation of her heroes can feel like she’s just showing off. It might feel less from her soul than debut HEAVN, but LEGACY! LEGACY! is such a monument, a real thinker of a listen which you’ll never stop finding new angles to approach.
1. Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rowell!
The next best American record.
Listen: “Norman fucking Rockwell”
Honorable Mentions: Crush on Me by Sir Babygirl, Miss Universe by Nilüfer Yanya, Immunity by Clairo, Dedication by Carly Rae Jepsen, Patience by Mannequin Pussy, Two Hands by Big Thief, U.F.O.F. by Big Thief
Honorable Mentions to the Honorable Mentions List: uknowatimsayin¿ by Danny Brown, Eve by Rapsody, KIRK by DaBaby, Jaime by Brittany Howard, Beware of the dogs by Stella Donnelly, Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten, Bandana by Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Dogrel by Fontaines D.C., Keepsake by Hatchie, Better Oblivion Community Center by Better Oblivion Community Center, the first glass beach album by glass beach, Buck Up by Carsie Blanton, Wildcard by Miranda Lambert, Cuz I Love You by Lizzo, The Best of Luck Club by Alex Lahey, Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend, Fever by Megan Thee Stallion