1. The XX, Coexist
The sensuous mood pieces on this English act’s debut—songs equally informed by the Cure, bass music, and foggy R&B—deserved the diverse set of fans they attracted, and all signs point to the follow-up preserving that same sense of intimacy. Sept. 11.
2. Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Verbally dexterous and philosophically inclined, Lamar is a rapper on the rise—his major-label debut is even scheduled to contain a Lady Gaga feature. The good news is that making music for a larger audience doesn’t seem to be dulling his ear for good production or his tendency to chase big ideas. Oct. 2.
3. Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream
Miguel started the year with the release of Art Dealer Chic, a series of free EPs on which he flexed creative muscles, toyed with new ideas, bent R&B into a few fresh shapes—and, we hope, convinced his label it was worth letting him do more of the same on his second full-length. Oct. 2.
4. Titus Andronicus, Local Business
Lately there are plenty of New Jersey punks trading in bull-hearted passion and us-against-them fervor—but this band’s last LP, The Monitor, did a nice job of asking why we crave those feelings, and what we get out of them. Their new material’s been sparking excitement for months now. Oct. 23.
5. Tracey Thorn, Tinsel and Lights
Thorn’s still best known as the voice of Everything But the Girl, but the solo albums she’s spent the past few years working on have been marvelous, full of spare, quietly incisive songwriting about topics—like being surrounded by divorces—that rarely get such keen treatment. Tinsel and Lights is part Christmas album, part covers album, and bound to be good company when it gets colder. Oct. 30.