Lana Del Rey, The Flaming Lips, and 21 other albums we can’t wait to hear in September

Lana Del Rey (Photo: Kevin Kane/Getty Images), Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips (Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images), 2 Chainz (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Lana Del Rey (Photo: Kevin Kane/Getty Images), Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips (Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images), 2 Chainz (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Summer may be coming to a close and the schools bells may be ringing once more—virtually, we hope—but the season of music is perpetual and unchanging (okay, admittedly there’s a slight shift around the Yuletide so that Mariah can once more storm the charts). As we roll into September, there are again a bevy of great records on the horizon: New releases from beloved weirdos like The Flaming Lips, indie icons like Sufjan Stevens, and even our favorite giraffe feeder, 2 Chainz. So as we watch the sky once more begin getting darker earlier (and not metaphorically, for a change), let us console ourselves with the ever-bright landscape of pop music and its effervescent champions. Of course, if you’d rather brood and listen to something dark, we’ve got you covered there, too.

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Declan McKenna, Zeros [September 4]

Declan McKenna, Zeros [September 4]

Whether or not it’s something in the water over there (or just, you know, the accent), it seems Brits will always make the best candidates for new iterations of The Beatles. And Declan McKenna has one of the strongest cases to be made in years for continuing the tradition of McCartney-esque melodies, with simple instrumentation and addictive hooks. He fills his music with soaring synths, and brings a more swaggering, Bowie-like intensity at times, but otherwise, McKenna’s the real deal of unfiltered, organic pop songcraft arranged with the fundamentals—and little else, because it’s all he needs. [Alex McLevy]

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Hannah Georgas, All That Emotion [September 4]

Hannah Georgas, All That Emotion [September 4]

With her languid, aching vocals and penchant for dreamy soundscapes, it would be easy to classify Hannah Georgas firmly in the dream-pop territory. But the singer-songwriter, who spent last year as a member of The National’s touring band for its I Am Easy To Find tour—has always pushed beyond simple genre labels, going somewhere more complex musically. And the early singles from the new record suggest she may have finally found the ideal sound to accompany her tales of longing and wonderment. [Alex McLevy]

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Lana Del Rey, Chemtrails Over The Country Club [September 4]

Lana Del Rey, Chemtrails Over The Country Club [September 4]

As always, Lana Del Rey is keeping her cards close to the vest. She’s released the title of her follow-up to Norman Fucking Rockwell—the extremely Lana Del Rey-like Chemtrails Over The Country Club—and teased a little snippet of one new song, “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” in a since-archived Instagram post. That’s pretty much all we know. But given her track record—and despite some less-than-great recent comments—a new album from the singer is a must-hear. UPDATE: In a new Instagram post, the singer now says the album will be released “soon.”[Alex McLevy]

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Phil Augusta Jackson, The Redondo Tape EP [September 4]

Phil Augusta Jackson, The Redondo Tape EP [September 4]

Some folks just seem to be unfairly gifted with a surfeit of talent. Phil Jackson, who already proved his creative chops as a writer and producer on great shows like Insecure, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Key & Peele, and more (not to mention his inspired improv comedy performances at UCB back in the day), is now revealing a musical side, and the initial singles from his forthcoming EP are soulful and introspective—and sometimes, as in the case of “Get It,” a total bounce on top of that. If this is what he does in his spare time, we need more of it. [Alex McLevy]

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Sprain, As Lost Through Collision [September 4]

Sprain, As Lost Through Collision [September 4]

It can be tough for a new band to make themselves heard through the glut of established acts; but if you turn up the dials and the intensity as high as L.A.’s Sprain, it sure helps. Taking the jagged post-punk of ’90s acts like Unwound and Slint and combining it with an almost Sonic Youth-like dedication to raw, swirling soundscapes, the band’s upcoming album evolves the slowcore sound of their debut EP into one of the more promising records of the year—angular, explosive, and unpredictable at every turn. [Alex McLevy]

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Blitzen Trapper, Holy Smokes Future Jokes [September 11]

Blitzen Trapper, Holy Smokes Future Jokes [September 11]

Aside from the excellent album title, Blitzen Trapper’s new record doesn’t look to deviate much from the group’s well-established sound. Blending country and folk with the vibe of 1970s Americana, the Portland-based ensemble returns for another trip into the wayback machine, conjuring soaring melodies and stirring styles of yesteryear. Who needs someone to reinvent the wheel when the old one works this well? [Alex McLevy]

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Conway The Machine, From King To A God [September 11]

Conway The Machine, From King To A God [September 11]

Not content with already having released an excellent EP this year, Buffalo, New York’s Conway The Machine unveils his latest record, From King To A God, with his signature superlative flow and pulsing beats. A massive lineup of collaborators are on hand to juice it even further, including Method Man, Westside Gunn, Freddie Gibbs, Benny The Butcher, and many more. And all of this before his debut release for Shady Records drops soon hereafter—someone should tell him it’s okay to take a day off now and then. [Alex McLevy]

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The Flaming Lips, American Head [September 11]

The Flaming Lips, American Head [September 11]

If The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin was too raucous for you, you’ll love the somnambulant tracks on the band’s 16th studio album, American Head. Many of the song titles on the two-disc release are drug-related (“At The Movies On Quaaludes,” “Mother I’ve Taken LSD,” “You N Me Sellin’ Weed,” “When We Die When We’re High”), but Wayne Coyne tells Rolling Stone to focus instead on the first half of that album title: “For the first time in our musical life, we began to think of ourselves as ‘an American band’… telling ourselves that it would be our identity for our next creative adventure.” Maybe that led to Kacey Musgraves’ welcome appearances, as the country star’s ethereal vocals elevate Coyne’s on the typically trippy “Flowers Of Neptune 6.” [Gwen Ihnat]

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Matt Berry, Phantom Birds [September 18]

Matt Berry, Phantom Birds [September 18]

The rising profile of Matt Berry, comedic actor, has coincided with the expanding recorded output of Matt Berry, musician—but even as far back as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Berry was demonstrating that some of the silliest characters on TV had serious pipes. His latest work in a sincere singer-songwriter vein pares down the accompaniment—“to draw attention to the songs,” says label Acid Jazz—in a move inspired by the Bob Dylan classic John Wesley Harding. The pastoral Americana of “Something In My Eye” and “Take A Bow” certainly sound like something that Dylan and The Band could’ve pulled up from the basement of Big Pink, but there’s no mistaking that deep, rich, and distinctly British voice on the mic. [Erik Adams]

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Anjimile, Giver Taker [September 18]

Anjimile, Giver Taker [September 18]

Musical chameleons like Boston’s Anjimile are exciting precisely because you’re never quite sure what they’re going to do next. Giver Taker, the artist’s new album, retains some of his key musical elements—his intimate acoustic guitar playing, skittering beats, pop sensibilities—but they’re wedded to a broader use of his voice, soaring at one moment, lower and honeyed the next. Add to that his confessional grapplings with faith, addiction, and his trans identity, and the new record looks to be Anjimile’s most complex yet. [Alex McLevy]

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Cults, Host [September 18]

Cults, Host [September 18]

Their label, Rough Trade Records, is promoting Host as a “radical reimagining” of the Cults sound—but don’t expect any hip-hop verses or bluegrass guitar. Yes, Host sees the indie-pop duo coming down to earth a bit compared to the ghostly, Phil Spector-esque echo they’re known for. But the eerie beauty of singer Madeline Follin’s voice remains as haunting as ever on symphonic lead single “Trials,” which also boasts a dreamy chorus that’s classic Cults. [Katie Rife]

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Into It. Over It., Figure [September 18]

Into It. Over It., Figure [September 18]

Into It. Over It.’s first new album in four years crackles with vitality, asserting itself as a jolt of electricity in an era of emotional drain. That energy is reflected in pre-release singles like “We Prefer Indoors” and “Living Up To Let You Down,” songs that exude an irresistible sense of forward momentum. Weiss’ introspective lyrics, penned during a “really dark time,” represent a personal reckoning, unfolding against the artist’s nimble guitarwork and percussion from Adam Beck that hits like a punch in the gut. The LP was born from a renewed sense of community, and Weiss recruited a whole host of Chicago emo luminaries—American Football’s Mike Kinsella, Braid’s Bob Nanna, and more—for the “We Prefer Indoors” video. [Randall Colburn]

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Joe Wong, Nite Creatures [September 18]

Joe Wong, Nite Creatures [September 18]

After almost 20 years putting in time as a drummer in other people’s bands and as a composer for streaming series like Master Of None, Russian Doll, and The Midnight Gospel, percussive polymath Joe Wong is finally releasing his first solo LP, Nite Creatures. Wong’s musical mode of choice is lush orchestral pop with a lysergic edge, building layers of atmosphere and instrumentation over his deep, sonorous voice for a magic-carpet ride of pure psychedelic escapism. [Katie Rife]

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Osees, Protean Threat [September 18]

Osees, Protean Threat [September 18]

Feeling listless? A little lethargic? Let John Dwyer lend you some of his ample adrenaline by way of his latest psych-rock rampage, Protean Threat. The name may have changed (again), but Osees (formerly, The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, Oh Sees, etc.) are as rambunctious as ever: teeth-rattling drums, bleating synths, guitars so scuzzy you need to take a shower after listening. The lead guitar on the rousing “If I Had My Way” is downright nasty, like if Deep Purple wanted you to dance. [Laura Adamczyk]

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Semisonic, You’re Not Alone EP [September 18]

Semisonic, You’re Not Alone EP [September 18]

For the first time in almost two decades, there’s new Semisonic music available, bound to please fans who have missed the dulcet and frequently falsetto tones of Dan Wilson and John Munson. The first few songs released indicate no drop in the band’s songwriting ability; the tracks practically pulse with optimism, an element in short supply right now. “All It Would Take” points to the power of “changing the world within me and around me,” while “You Are Not Alone” touches on the current bleak landscape while enthusing, “better take the fight to a voting booth.” Hey, inspiring protest music can only benefit from inescapable pop hooks and some swingy guitar chords. [Gwen Ihnat]

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2 Chainz, So Help Me God [September 25]

2 Chainz, So Help Me God [September 25]

2 Chainz has long been recognized as one of the hardest-working emcees in hip-hop, and this year is no exception. Since January, he’s dropped a handful of solid guest verses, a trio of music videos—including the striking visuals for “Devil’s Just Trying To Be Seen,” set against the backdrop of this summer’s protests—and a full-length collaborative album with his label mates, T.R.U. By year’s end, he’ll drop two more LPs: ColleGrove 2, the sequel to his 2016 collab with Lil Wayne, and So Help Me God, the anticipated follow-up to his strongest, most thoughtful work to date, 2019’s Rap Or Go To The League. [Baraka Kaseko]

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Bob Mould, Blue Hearts [September 25]

Bob Mould, Blue Hearts [September 25]

Welp, looks like the Sunshine Rock days are over. The punk legend returns with a straight-up protest album, a 14-track rage against the dying of the light—or, more specifically, the dying of democracy, our climate, tolerance, you name it. First single “American Crisis,” with its raw cry against the “American Isis,” sets the tone, and from the sound of it, Mould isn’t interested in easing up on the intensity. There may be less furious sounds on the record (second single “Forecast Of Rain” evokes Copper Blue), but emotions? Not so much. [Alex McLevy]

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Lydia Loveless, Daughter [September 25]

Lydia Loveless, Daughter [September 25]

The past four years have been tumultuous but eye-opening for Lydia Loveless, who brings that hard-won wisdom to her latest LP, Daughter. With a title that’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to the phrase “as a father of daughters,” Daughter finds Loveless attempting to define herself outside of her relationships with men, and finding mollifying wisdom to be inadequate in the face of her personal—and our nation’s political—dilemma. “Love Is Not Enough” is a wise and sympathetic melody in the style of Loveless’ musical hero (and sometimes tour mate) Lucinda Williams that Loveless calls “the closest to a political ditty I’ve been able to write thus far.” [Katie Rife]

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Róisín Murphy, Róisín Machine [September 25]

Róisín Murphy, Róisín Machine [September 25]

One of the big stories in 2020 pop is the “disco revival,” but Róisín Murphy’s been banging that tambourine for years now, the genre thriving in her stylish hands. The Irish glamazon’s new album, Róisín Machine, links her up with DJ Parrot for another scintillating spin around the mirrorball that scores soul-searching with pulsing dance-floor beats. Featuring previously released singles (2019’s sweeping “Incapable”) and brand-new tracks (the self-aware “Murphy’s Law”), Róisín Machine makes the case for pop music’s long-overdue Róisín-aissance. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Sad13, Haunted Painting [September 25]

Sad13, Haunted Painting [September 25]

On her debut solo album Slugger, Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis crafted a more open-hearted, electronics-aided batch of songs than those she makes with her band. And Haunted Painting looks to take that pop direction even further; whereas earlier songs walked right up to the edge of dance-floor bops, now she’s full-on embraced that rollicking vibe. Paired with lyrically sharp social critiques and a feminist production (she recorded exclusively with female engineers), the album is, according to Dupuis, “more true to me and my tastes than any record I’ve done.” If that’s true, it sounds awfully good on her. [Alex McLevy]

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Sufjan Stevens, The Ascension [September 25]

Sufjan Stevens, The Ascension [September 25]

Nobody blinked when Sufjan Stevens announced his first new album in three years with a 12-minute protest song—experimentation has always been his game. It is notable, however, that Stevens describes The Ascension as an “editorial pop album,” implying the LP will be as opinionated as it is emotional, a shift for an artist who so often looks inward. Don’t expect him to suddenly fire up a Twitter account, though. The Ascension’s latest single, “Video Game,” can be read as a dismissal of today’s performative, reward-based modes of online discourse. “In a way I wanna be my own believer,” he sings on the glowing, beat-driven track, an echo of his promise that The Ascension chronicles “a refusal to play along with the systems around us.” [Randall Colburn]

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SuperM, Super One [September 25]

SuperM, Super One [September 25]

Last year’s “Jopping” made for a boisterous debut of a supergroup that South Korea’s SM Entertainment confidently dubbed “the Avengers of K-pop.” Their long-awaited debut LP, Super One, aims to justify that claim by prominently showcasing what each member brings from their home base acts. And there’s a ton of potential to get it right: Between SHINee’s iconic verve, EXO’s smooth polish, and NCT and WayV’s firm handle on experimental tones, Super One could be the mark of a winning combination. [Shannon Miller]

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Sylvan Esso, Free Love [September 25]

Sylvan Esso, Free Love [September 25]

Sylvan Esso’s surprise live album, WITH, showcased how its songs could transform with an assist from an all-star band, but the duo’s never needed more than each other to craft cathartic pop music. On their third album, Free Love, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn once again find their sweet spot: Songs that wash over you with an overwhelming sense of calm and an insatiable urge to dance. Early singles “Ferris Wheel” and “Rooftop Dancing” introduce fresh, naturalistic textures that imbue their electronic tunes with a warm, intoxicating nostalgia. [Cameron Scheetz]

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