Following May’s especially strong lineup of releases, June brings long-awaited returns from Neko Case, Nas, Lykke Li, and Gang Gang Dance, as well as anticipated efforts from Drake, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Zeal & Ardor and promising debuts from Snail Mail and Juliana Daugherty. In hip-hop, it is undoubtedly the month of Kanye, with the rapper-producer involved in at least one release every week. These are the albums we’re most looking forward to in June.


TBA in June

Azealia Banks, Fantasea II

Azealia Banks is a shit-talk master, most recently getting into such a mud-slinging match with Cardi B that the on-top-of-the-world rapper was forced to quit Instagram. (She has since rejoined.) But Banks’ records also ooze style, exploring the intersection of hip-hop and house with a verve not seen since the ’80s. The new record is a sequel to her debut mixtape Fantasea, a virtuosic mishmash of styles that’s still probably her best record, and new single “Anna Wintour” sounds about as high fashion as the title would lead you to believe. [Clayton Purdom]

Brockhampton, PUPPY

Self-proclaimed “boy band” Brockhampton was one of the surprise stories of 2017, releasing three mixtapes that showcased an endlessly inventive hip-hop hive mind. Shuffling through indie rock, R&B, punk, and more, the now 13-member group showed a Kanye-like omnivorousness, throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall to see what stuck. It’s since signed a massive deal with RCA, announced an album called Team Effort, delayed that album indefinitely, and now announced a new album called PUPPY instead. It may be a mess, but it’ll definitely be exciting. [Clayton Purdom]

Drake, Scorpion

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After claiming at the end of last year’s More Life that he’d be taking the rest of 2017 off, Drake is batting almost a thousand in 2018, ditching the dour self-seriousness that had begun to plague his work and leaning into shit like the goofy, endearing “God’s Plan” video. On tracks like “Nice For What” and “Look Alive,” he seems to be having an almost alarmingly fun time making music again, even briefly elevating Migos’ interminable Culture II. Any or none of these tracks might make it onto Scorpion, but Drake’s always been at his best when he’s trying to please everyone. [Clayton Purdom]

Ty Dolla $ign & Jeremih, MighTy

Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih are two of the most reliable R&B crooners on the market, eyes firmly planted on radio success and pure sonic pleasure. The two have guested on each other’s albums before, most recently on Ty Dolla $ign’s almost conceptually pleasant Beach House 3, and have the sort of natural creative chemistry that comes from a shared fourth-dimensional understanding of what’ll work on rap radio. Full-length collaborations like this are often easy cash grabs, but if both singers are dialed in, MighTy might be another winning set. [Clayton Purdom]


June 1

Neko Case, Hell-On

It’s been a long five years without a new solo album from Neko Case, and the drought ends with a tsunami with her new effort, Hell-On. Somewhere along the way, Case became a divinely righteous force of nature as well as a storyteller, and like 2013’s The Worse Things Get…, Hell-On defies easy genre categorization. Explaining the delay is the fact that Hell-On is entirely self-produced, a first for Case; that freedom also give her the opportunity to invite musical friends like k.d. lang, Laura Veirs, Eric Bachmann, and Guided By Voices’ Doug Gillard into the studio for songs that revisit some of Case’s favorite lyrical themes while also sounding fresh and new. [Katie Rife]

Juliana Daugherty, Light 

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Juliana Daugherty’s path to Light, her solo debut, winds through classical training, getting an MFA in poetry, and years in the Charlottesville, Virginia folk scene. With its electronic pulse and minimal arrangement, it’s her latter two experiences that shine through the most. The stark, heart-wrenching approach puts the spotlight squarely on her haunting voice and pointed, evocative songwriting. [Matt Gerardi]

Father John Misty, God’s Favorite Customer

Silver Lake’s self-appointed god of mischief has paused his crystal-shop hijinks long enough to record a new album, God’s Favorite Customer, ex-Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman’s fourth under the name Father John Misty. Following up on last year’s Pure Comedy, God’s Favorite Customer sees Tillman in an uncharacteristically confessional mood, largely eschewing the winking sarcasm of his earlier efforts for a (relatively) straightforward chronicle of a rocky period in his personal life that culminated in the extended hotel stay he self-deprecatingly skewers in lead single “Mr. Tillman.” Despite troubles at home, however, Tillman’s instinct for piano-focused, Harry Nilsson-esque songwriting remains constant. [Katie Rife]

LUMP, LUMP

LUMP is a collaboration between British singer-songwriter Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of the experimental folk band Tunng. The duo describes it as a “creation that passed through them,” and the form it’s taken draws greatly from the gentle electronic folk of Lindsay’s band. Here, it’s paired with surreal lyrics courtesy of Marling, who also brings these hypnotic songs to life with her emotive voice. [Matt Gerardi]

Mazzy Star, Still

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In Mazzy Star’s first release in four years, Hope Sandoval, Dave Roback, and company offer up three new songs, plus an alternate version of “So Tonight That I Might See,” the title track from the band’s 25-year-old landmark dream-pop album. Single “Quiet, The Winter Harbor” delivers on the twanging psych folk the group is known for: a gorgeous waltz of minor-key piano, melancholy slide guitar, and Sandoval’s famously soporific vocals. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Oneohtrix Point Never, Age Of

Coming off last year’s grabby score for Good Time, you might expect Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin to continue down that path of propulsive, Tangerine Dream atmospherics for his latest album. But the new Age Of, the electronic composer’s eighth, is a natural progression from 2015’s Garden Of Delete, building on its jagged pop bricolage to create some honest-to-god songs here, albeit still scattered and refracted through Lopatin’s restless dial-spinning. That new, more songful direction is aided by additional production from James Blake and led by OPN’s most prominent use of vocals yet, including a guest turn from ANOHNI and, most notably, Lopatin himself, who takes the lead on several songs that thread a weird, warbly line between genres, offering up bubblegum death-metal ballads, extraterrestrial noise-folk, and industrial R&B sex jams. It’s a monster. [Sean O’Neal]

Kanye West, TBA

It’s hard to know what to expect from Kanye West’s still-untitled eighth record. “Lift Yourself”—the poopity-scoop song—was clearly a shit take, but old heads felt a brief surge of joy when they heard that chipmunk-soul loop. “Ye Vs. The People” was an incomprehensible political dialogue, enjoyable mostly to hear T.I. hand Ye his ass over his own beat, but there was a musical core there worth being excited about. And 2016’s Life Of Pablo, for all its enduring brilliance, was also an unholy mess, a half-finished collection of ideas that nevertheless radiated the genius of its creator. The stakes couldn’t be higher for these seven tracks—artistically, politically, or, it seems, personally. If you’re even moderately interested in contemporary music, it’ll be essential listening. [Clayton Purdom]


June 8

Lily Allen, No Shame

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Lily Allen has had a crazy few years. In the wake of her last album, 2014’s pop zeitgeist-courting Sheezus (which even Allen herself has gone on record as saying she doesn’t like), she’s gotten divorced, had a stalker break into her home and try to kill her, written a book, and had her manager quit on her. She’s dialed way back on the irony and sarcasm that permeated her previous work, choosing instead to get into some heavy-but-earnest material about growing up, becoming a parent, and slowing it all down a bit. Even the dancehall-borrowing, Giggs-featuring single “Trigger Bang” feels like a newfound statement of purpose. [Alex McLevy]

The Get Up Kids, Kicker

The four-track Kicker finds The Get Up Kids looking back at their decades-long career through rose-tinted glasses—evoked by the rose-colored artwork—as well as what sounds like renewed vigor. Songs like “Maybe” and “I’m Sorry” express regret over bad choices and paths not pursued, but there’s no sense of resignation in the lyrics or guitar licks. The Moog accents are now fist pumps, and the chanting choruses edge close to stadium rock. But the quieter moments on “My Own Reflection” bring us back to the Kids we grew up with. And as the first new record from the band in seven years, Kicker feels more like a step forward than a nostalgia trip. [Danette Chavez]

Angélique Kidjo, Remain In Light

Last year at Carnegie Hall, Angélique Kidjo—one of Africa’s most famous, accomplished singers—led a star-studded concert that saw the Talking Heads’ classic Remain In Light transformed into a joyous celebration of the African music that inspired it all those years ago. Now, Kidjo’s spirited track-for-track reinterpretation, awash with explosive percussion and gorgeous harmonies, is getting a studio release with help from hit-making producer Jeff Bhasker, who’s worked with the likes of Kanye West, Drake, and Bruno Mars. [Matt Gerardi]

Kids See Ghost, TBA

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Kanye West signed Kid Cudi to GOOD Music back in 2008, and has since gone on the record for his love of the musician, calling him the “most influential artist of the past 10 years” with a smidge of characteristic hyperbole. They’ve collaborated numerous times over the years, seemingly falling out during West’s manic Life Of Pablo press tour and then patching things up earlier this year. Despite Kanye’s assertions otherwise, Cudi’s solo stuff hasn’t had the most enormous impact, but it’s frequently pretty inventive stuff, for all its navel-gazing. And Kim Kardashian says their new collaboration is very good—so there’s that! [Clayton Purdom]

Lykke Li, So Sad So Sexy

Swedish singer Lykke Li became the toast of moody teen dramas and their music supervisors with the smoldering electro-pop of her early albums Youth Novels and Wounded Rhymes, but it’s been a relatively quiet—and relatively long—four years since 2014’s I Never Learn. She’s filled that self-imposed “retirement” with some acting gigs and (what else) some soundtrack appearances, as well as forming the supergroup Liv, but the new So Sad So Sexy still feels like a comeback, with all the expectation that implies. Fortunately, early singles “Deep End” and “Hard Rain” offer a quick reminder of her gifts, the latter a bit of tense-yet-transcendental robot R&B produced by Vampire Weekend alum Rostam Batmanglij. [Sean O’Neal]

The Midnight Hour (Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge), The Midnight Hour

You’ve likely already heard some of the The Midnight Hour, the first joint LP from A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and prolific soul composer Adrian Younge: The duo’s earliest collaborative sessions produced the dizzying bossa nova-funk sampled on Kendrick Lamar’s “Untitled 06.” First single “Questions” reveals the full collaboration with singer Cee-Lo, while “Black Beacon,” nodding to Muhammad and Young’s score for Marvel’s Luke Cage, is a blaxploitation-tinted jazz suite issued as a call to action against police brutality. Add in guest spots from Raphael Saadiq, Questlove, Bilal, and Digable Planets’ Ladybug Mecca, and The Midnight Hour promises a lot to look forward to and reflect on. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Snail Mail, Lush

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Lindsey Jordan has been playing guitar since the age of 5, which goes a long way toward explaining the 18-year-old’s uncommonly assured approach to songwriting under her musical pen name, Snail Mail. Lush, Jordan’s debut full-length on storied indie-rock label Matador Records, follows up on her buzzed-about 2016 EP, Habit, with a collection of songs whose lyrics are bursting with the aimless intensity of adolescent emotion, but whose music belies Jordan’s bedrock confidence by resisting the urge to overfill the space between each note. If you’ve ever wondered what Exile In Guyville would sound like written by someone young enough to carry a fake ID, then look no further. [Katie Rife]

Uniform & The Body, Mental Wounds Not Healing

Mental Wounds Not Healing is the sound of what you get when you take two of heavy music’s most eclectic practitioners—Brooklyn duo Uniform and Portland-by-way-of-Rhode Island metal extremists The Body—and put them together for a playful (at least, as playful as these guys ever get) collaboration named after a lyric from Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” It’s also the sound of an undead army of cymbals and synthesizers on the march, knocking their enemies flat with rasping, unholy screams and then crushing them under an unstoppable locomotive of buzzsaw noise. So, you know, a beach record—if you happen to be sunning next to the river Hades. [Katie Rife]

Zeal & Ardor, Stranger Fruit

Swiss-American artist Manuel Gagneux started Zeal & Ardor on a 4chan dare, but don’t mistake the project for a lark: Last year’s Devil Is Fine found surprisingly potent harmony in the marriage of blistering black metal to traditional slave spirituals. Gagneux pushes further past the novelty and audacity of his musical madlibs on Stranger Fruit, which smoothly synthesizes the twin components of the Zeal & Ardor equation. The results are often heavier and more soulful, and on songs like lead single “Gravedigger’s Chant,” Gagneux doesn’t just find an oddly simpatico fusion of two sounds—he creates a new one. [A.A. Dowd]


June 15

Christina Aguilera, Liberation

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Christina Aguilera’s eighth studio album has been slow to take form, though not for lack of trying. Liberation is the result of nearly four years’ work, and at least twice as many collaborators, including Kanye West, Demi Lovato, 2 Chainz, and dancehall artist Shenseea. But Aguilera’s powerful voice still rings out the clearest, even on “Accelerate,” which is cluttered with synths and stray drum pads. That West-produced single may be all over the place, but the pointed “Fall In Line,” with its message about female empowerment and Lovato feature, makes up for the lack of focus. Liberation will have multiple socially conscious jams, including “Dreamers,” which mixes spoken word with Aguilera’s multi-octave range. [Danette Chavez]

The English Beat, Here We Go Love

For a band whose original discography consists of three albums released back in the ’80s, The English Beat’s comet has had a mighty long tail. The current iteration(s) of the band include one led by vocalist Ranking Roger and one led by vocalist-guitarist Dave Wakeling, the latter of which is releasing the new fan-funded Here We Go Love. “How Can You Stand There?” is a cheery, if repetitive, song in the band’s signature animated-ska style, but “Never Die” offers some more somber complexity—with the sadder flip side of “Save It For Later”’s melody line—with Wakeling’s vocal emitting a poignant, world-weary maturity as he watches his relationship disintegrate, powerless to save it. [Gwen Ihnat]

Immersion, Sleepless

Wire’s Colin Newman and Minimal Compact’s Malka Spigel have been making music together since 1985, and among their many collaborative projects over the years—Githead, Oracle, being married—Immersion is the gentlest, an opportunity for these two spiky post-punk veterans to explore their more atmospheric side. That said, the new Sleepless isn’t pure ambient music: Though not nearly as anxious as the album’s title suggests, it’s a collection of instrumentals that move smoothly through several moods like “Microclimate,” whose gently chiming guitar figure and synth sweeps are driven by a jazzy live drum beat and some anxious stabs of strings and brass. [Sean O’Neal]

Melody’s Echo Chamber, Bon Voyage

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The follow-up to Melody Prochet’s 2012 breakthrough as Melody’s Echo Chamber has seen its share of setbacks: An earlier sophomore effort made with Tame Impala frontman (and Prochet’s former partner) Kevin Parker was abandoned after years of work, with some tracks making it to the 2016 EP From Pink They Fell Into Blue, and just when Prochet announced Bon Voyage a year ago, the 31-year-old French singer took a serious fall that left her in the hospital for months. The anything-goes escapism of Bon Voyage makes for a potent, well-earned return, then, where tracks like “Cross My Heart” and “Desert Horse” freely and confidently indulge in the every musical whim of Prochet and her collaborators, Swedish psych musicians Fredrik Swahn (The Amazing) and Reine Fiske (Dungen). Sun-bleached psych pop, funky hip-hop breakdowns, and sprawling rock experimentalism all coexist here—and usually in the same, mind-bending song. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Nas, TBA

It’s been seven years since Nas released Life Is Good, a surprise artistic renaissance from a rapper who had devolved into ugly, nihilistic overreach throughout the ’00s. But even on his worst records, Nas remains a bracing poetic force on the mic, and the idea of him giving full curatorial power over to someone with Kanye’s refined tastes is mana to ’90s rap nerds. Here’s hoping for a bunch of lay-up soul samples from West and a laser-focused effort from Nas. [Clayton Purdom]

Protomartyr, Consolation E.P.

Detroit’s Protomartyr released yet another solid full-length, Relatives In Descent, just last year, but doesn’t appear interested in taking time off: The upcoming Consolation E.P. offers four new songs, and with a notable guest: Kelley Deal sings on two of them. Mike Montgomery, Deal’s R. Ring bandmate, recorded the EP, so enlisting the Breeders guitarist was an easy step. Her voice nicely counterbalances Joe Casey’s spoken-sung vocals, giving a little ray of lightness to Protomartyr’s frequently bleak, often discordant sound. So it’s settled: more Kelley Deal in everything. [Kyle Ryan]

R+R=NOW, Collagically Speaking

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R+R=NOW is what happens when you put powerhouse R&B producer-artists Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin in a room with outstanding instrumentalists like trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, bassist Derrick Hodge, and percussionist Justin Tyson. Driven by a familial, celebratory energy and Nina Simone’s call for artists to “reflect the times” (“R+R” stands for “reflect” and “respond”), the supergroup melds “neo-soul to future-funk, West Coast jazz of the moment to astral electronica, instrumental hip-hop to musique concrète, avant-garde to classical,” resulting in interstellar single-take jams that speak to the power of community. [Kelsey J. Waite]


June 22

Gang Gang Dance, Kazuashita

On records like 2008’s Saint Dymphna and 2011’s Eye Contact, Gang Gang Dance created mythic, sweeping indie rock built around massive synthesized beats and Lizzi Bougatsos’ slithering vocals. The result was dense, frequently noisy, and claustrophobic stuff—it ruled. The Manhattan group is back with the new Kazuashita, its first in seven years, and the new “Lotus” sees the four-piece picking up right where it left off, locking into a sinuous beat and gradually building a wall of sensuous sound. [Clayton Purdom]

Martyn, Voids

Electronic producer Martyn (real name Martijn Deijkers) has always been a bit of a dance-music magpie, cribbing bits of deep house and Detroit techno, a touch of dubstep wobble here and some jazzy flourishes there. On 2014’s The Air Between Words, he refined those disparate directions into a melodic yet mostly just-fine album that was often entrancing but somewhat indistinct. Voids, however, comes with renewed purpose: Composed in the wake of a near-fatal heart attack, it’s being pegged as a “personal musical transformation” that finds Martyn revisiting the intense interplay between melancholy textures and rhythmic shards that made his 2009 debut, Great Lengths, so notable. [Sean O’Neal]

Nine Inch Nails, Bad Witch

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In retrospect, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross couldn’t have picked a better time to release a trilogy of EPs: Not The Actual Events arrived just a month after the 2016 election, last year’s Add Violence pretty much said it all in the title, and Bad Witch is here to round out the past two years of suck for all NIN fans. Like the others, the new one is an EP, and colorfully titled as usual: Tracks include “Shit Mirror” and “Play The Goddamned Part.” “God Break Down The Door,” the first song released from the album, sets the tone with liquidy, Pretty Hate Machine-esque synths and the noisy swirls of bass and guitar that are the band’s signature. Bad Witch should provide another solid soundtrack to despair. [Kyle Ryan]

Kate NV, для For

Moscow’s Kate NV, née Kate Shilonosova, produces joyful, percolating avant-pop tracks inspired by 1980s Japanese City Pop, synthwave, and experimental synth pop. для FOR quickly follows up her enchanting 2017 debut, Binasu, with 10 new tracks inspired by “casual moments of ephemeral sound from within and beyond [Shilonosova’s] apartment walls.” Single “дуб OAK,” part of the first half of the album written in the spring, features warm, gently dancing mallet melodies that evoke the season and the teaming rhythms of the city. Look for Sasha Kulak’s short online film series alongside the album’s release. [Kelsey J. Waite]

The Orb, No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds

Returning to the adventurous, collaborator-driven work of the band’s debut album, Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, The Orb’s latest collection of ambient electronica finds the duo of Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann pulling in a host of other artists to help them grow beyond the techno-esque signature sound of the past few records. In addition to recording with Roger Eno (yes, Brian’s brother), Killing Joke bassist Youth, and Jah Wobble (ex-bassist for Public Image Ltd), the two of them pulled in a variety of guest vocalists. Andy Cain, Emma Gillespie, Rianna, Mary Pearce, and Brother Culture will all be lending their voices to the ambitious new release—and if lead single “Doughnuts Forever” is a good indication, it should surprise some old fans while pulling in new ones. [Alex McLevy]

Teyana Taylor, TBA

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Teyana Taylor has mostly served as a for-hire belter for artists like Meek Mill, Vince Staples, and her label head, Kanye West. (She was the star of his mesmerizing “Fade” video, too.) Her sole full-length—VII, from 2014—felt fussy and prepackaged, but the stakes are much higher for album No. 2, coming as the kicker on her contentious producer’s five-record release calendar. It’ll be interesting to hear what a full-length R&B effort pulls out of Kanye, if he is indeed handling production himself as he has claimed. For Taylor, it’s another chance to step out and claim the spotlight for herself. [Clayton Purdom]

Kamasi Washington, Heaven And Earth

It’s been many years since jazz produced a figure quite like Kamasi Washington, a galvanizing artist whose work is complex and imaginative but also wonderfully accessible. Heaven And Earth is his first LP since his emergence into jazz stardom in 2015, the year where Washington released his widely acclaimed album The Epic and even made strides into the mainstream through contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. At a meager two and a half hours, it’s not quite as epic as his towering three-hour breakthrough, but as a concept album presenting first a harrowing vision of the present and then a hopeful look into the future, it may be even more ambitious. [Matt Gerardi]


June 29

The Alarm, Equals

Welsh four-piece The Alarm was famous in the ’80s for catchy, anthemic, protest songs, along with some of the hugest hair of the decade. Thirty-odd years later, the hair is less huge and the band is understandably less biting. Lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Peters has added his wife, Jules, on keyboards and taken a firmly more optimistic outlook on life as a cancer survivor. So it’s not surprising that the first track released from Equals is the flighty “Beautiful,” an ode to living in the moment; that theme continues in the less danceable, more thoughtful “Two Rivers,” which more directly grapples with mortality: “Carpe diem, my friend.” [Gwen Ihnat]

Florence + The Machine, High As Hope

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Florence Welch’s more operatic tendencies remain unchecked on “Sky Full Of Song” and “Hunger,” the lead singles off of High As Hope, Welch’s new album with the rotating cast of musicians who make up Florence + The Machine. She may have outgrown the “girl and her keyboard” act a long time ago, but her drive to create earnest, theatrical mini-epics remains as strong as ever. And thank goodness for that: Trying to contain a voice as powerful as Welch’s, rich with vibrato and confessional momentum, would be like clipping the wings of a golden eagle. [Katie Rife]

Jim James, Uniform Distortion

Should it worry My Morning Jacket fans that frontman Jim James is now releasing solo albums much more frequently than full-band efforts? Or is any fix of his arena-filling croon and heavenly falsetto worth celebrating? Following closely on last year’s cover collection Tribute To 2, the forthcoming Uniform Distortion finds the bearded troubadour tackling the information overload of today, even as he draws upon a ’70s-era environmental magazine, The Last Whole Earth Catalog, for inspiration. Judging from jaunty, reverb-drenched lead single “Just A Fool,” the album will hew a little closer to James’ country-and-rock wheelhouse than 2016’s electronica-tinged Eternally Even. [A.A. Dowd]

Let’s Eat Grandma, I’m All Ears

The duo behind British electropop group Let’s Eat Grandma—2016 Year In Band Names honorees—were just 17 when its debut, I, Gemini, came out two years ago to wide acclaim. Lifelong friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingsworth found themselves thrown into the spotlight, and the upcoming I’m All Ears reflects that transformative experience. Hooky early singles “Falling Into Me” and “It’s Not Just Me” feel wider in scope than the group’s earlier work, with layers of synthesizers and sounds reflecting their increased ambition. It also helps to have producers like Sophie (Madonna, Charli XCX), David Wrench (The xx, Frank Ocean), and Faris Badwan (The Horrors), which should make I’m All Ears a big step forward. [Kyle Ryan]