It’s only July, but blimey, what a year it’s been already for absolutely stonking albums. There’s been a tonne of breathtaking debuts from soon-to-be-superstars: Blaenavon’s debut album was a brilliant, unrivalled documentation of youth, while Diet Cig’s ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ brought bubblegum melodies and more bop than a bouncy castle. The Big Moon, meanwhile, cemented their place as one of Britain’s most exciting new bands with ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’, a record with more bangers than fireworks night, with Loyle Carner also staking his claim to become a festival headliner with the intense, intricate ‘Yesterday’s Gone’.
2017 has provided its fair share of returning heroes too, though. Kendrick Lamar made possibly his greatest statement yet with the flawless ‘DAMN.’ while Lorde entered a whole new league with ‘Melodrama’, her stunning documentation of ecstacy and heartbreak. Then there was the small matter of Paramore, who were unflinching in their honesty on fifth album ‘After Laughter’.
With absolute corkers from Marika Hackman, Run The Jewels, Sheer Mag, Pixx and more to add into the mix, it’s safe to say the first seven(ish) months of the year have been pretty bloody wonderful for new music.
There’s plenty yet to come though, with DIY faves and some of the world’s biggest acts all set to reveal their next card before 2017 is out. There’s also a handful of records that haven’t been announced yet, but we’re thinking (and hoping and praying, tbh) will see the light of day before 2018 arrives in a haze of Jagerbombs. Here’s to the rest of 2017…
Wolf Alice - Visions Of A Life (29th September, via Dirty Hit)
Ever since Wolf Alice’s era-defining debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’ was released in the summer of 2015, we’ve been waiting as patiently as we possibly can for its hugely anticipated follow-up. ‘Yuk Foo’ was our first taster of ‘Visions Of A Life’ - out at the end of September via label of the moment Dirty Hit - and was an absolute hammerblow. Ellie Rowsell cut a menacing figure, cursing and howling her way through the two-minute monster, and throwing the band and all of us with them into Wolf Alice mk. II head first, at 90mph.
Its follow-up, ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, is a considerably softer effort, a widescreen epic that focuses on rosy-eyed romance over ‘Yuk Foo”s penchant for unflinching anger. As an introduction to ‘Visions Of A Life’, it indicates the album will be eclectic in the extreme, and sees Wolf Alice teaming their polarising elements perfectly.
Talking to The FADER, Ellie spoke about learning lessons from the ‘My Love Is Cool’ era that the band took into the making of LP2. “The main thing we learned is to not hold back,” she said. “If you have an idea which you’re a bit embarrassed to suggest, what’s the harm in expressing it and trying it out? Sometimes it’s good to take things to 100% and rein it in from there, rather than [think], It might be embarrassing, I’ll just take it to 60%. I guess it’s caring what other people think about you, and this time around I don’t think we did. Don’t let other people’s expectations hold you back.” (Will Richards)
The Killers - Wonderful Wonderful (29th September, via Island Records)
How the hell does an album follow-up a first single as truly wonderful (wonderful) as ‘The Man’? We’re not far away from finding out, with fifth album ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ on its way in September. The first preview will take a lot of matching up to though. As we wrote upon its release, ‘The Man’ is “huge, bombastic and fearless, with Brandon Flowers at his most enticing”.
The rest of ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ also looks set to focus on positivity, as Brandon told NME in an recent interview. “Around about the time that The Killers started I guess, – that’s where ‘The Man’ harkens back to, and years after as well,” he said. “I can live with it, you know. It was nice to sort of go in and inhabit that character, and that figure, and that version of myself for much longer.”
“I think a good chunk of this album is making peace with that. I’ve been cleaning it up for a long time. I don’t think that was really a great representation, an honest representation of who I am. It came from a place of insecurity and I would just puff my chest out and say things and put a lot of negativity out there. I basically came to regret that and I’m sure a lot of people can identify with that.”
He’s got gas in the tank, he’s got money in the bank, and we can’t bloody wait for his new album if we’re honest. (Will Richards)
LCD Soundsystem - American Dream (1st September, via Columbia)
If the fact that no-one ever really thought it would arrive wasn’t enough, the first pair of tasters for LCD Soundsystem’s new record ‘American Dream’ pointed towards a pretty bloody exciting fourth album.
‘call the police’ is “a track that carries an infectious momentum like the very best LCD Soundsystem songs” while its counterpart ‘american dream’ is the solemn statement. ““It’s a drug of the heart and you can’t stop the shaking / ‘Cause the body wants what it’s terrible at taking,” he sings, and the sense of succumbing to internal and external pressures is palpable. Being less than perfect - crummy, even - has always been a state that Murphy’s conveyed perfectly, and here it’s done better than ever.” Read our review of both tracks in full here.
There’s also someone else to thank for the unexpected return of Murphy and co. In a recent BBC interview with Lauren Laverne, the frontman revealed his late friend and collaborator David Bowie gave him the final push to get the old band back together.
“I spent a good amount of time with David Bowie, and I was talking about coming back, putting the band together,” Murphy said. “And I was going through the hems and haws of it, and he said, ‘Does it make you uncomfortable?’ And I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he said, ‘Good. It should. You should be uncomfortable.’”
“And the first thing that popped into my head was, ‘What the? What do you know? You don’t know what it’s like to be uncomfortable.’ That was my thinking. Because of course I’m imagining that if I was David Bowie, I’d just be walking around flipping everybody off, like, ‘I’m David Bowie!’ Like, nobody can say anything! … That’s not who he was ever in his life. He was always making himself uncomfortable. And it was such a great feeling of, like, you just don’t know what you are to anybody else.”
We’ve no doubt that ‘American Dream’ will be a record the late star would have been proud of, and we can’t bloody wait for it. It’s out in just over a month. (Will Richards)
Superfood - Bambino (8th September, via Dirty Hit)
Superfood’s has to be the best and most drastic reinvention of the year. When we went in the studio with the now-duo earlier in the year to snoop around on the progress made on album two, they hinted at something extremely different, and boy, were they right.
“It’s been fucking hard to be honest,” Dom Ganderton told us of the recording process. “To start with there was no studio, the record was started off in flats, parks, cars and rehearsal rooms. Me and Ryan decided to write and record the whole thing alone with the help of various different players and engineers.
We had no money, no label and wanted to give up several times. We set out to record songs that we wanted to listen to when we got back from a night out or just something we would genuinely go to and play on iTunes. It was different kind of pressure than we have faced before we had no deadlines but knew that we had to create something that was going to really make people stop and listen this time.”
First singles ‘Double Dutch’, ‘I Can’t See’ and ‘Unstoppable’ are a trio of fantastically eclectic cuts, sample-heavy and unashamedly party-starting, the shit that Superfood went through to make new album ‘Bambino’ has resulted in them exiting with an arsenal of bangers to unwind and down plenty of pints to. We’re expecting the full album to have plenty more of the same. (Will Richards)
INHEAVEN - INHEAVEN (1st September, via PIAS)
One of Britain’s most exciting new bands for the last few years, INHEAVEN are finally about to unleash their debut album on the world, and we’re beside ourselves with excitement, tbh. We caught up with the band while in the studio crafting their first full-length, and there were a few strange influences that have crept into the making of ‘INHEAVEN’.
“In a field outside the studio there’s an old school pagan circle, so I think the dark spirits conjured up something while we were making ‘Treats’,” theorises frontman James Taylor. “I’m not gonna lie, I did go and stand in it and wait for something to happen,” adds Chloe matter-of-factly.
“Also, the piano in the studio is the same piano that Freddie Mercury wrote ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on, so if you can’t get vibes from that then you’re fucked,” James continues. “Apparently the studio’s haunted, so maybe we channelled Freddie on some songs? It’s also the studio where The Stone Roses fell out and lost their minds; there’s a lot of history in that place. I think we’re fine though… We’re good…”
With the album’s previous singles already indicating that the record will be chock-a-block with bangers, INHEAVEN are about to truly arrive. (Will Richards)
Fall Out Boy - M A N I A (15th September, via Virgin EMI)
On first listen to ‘Young and Menace’, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s actually Diplo’s latest chart takeover, or some towering musical offering that Skrillex has put his name to. Nu uh! If any album’s set to be the most baffling and unexpected this year, it’s surely going to be Fall Out Boy’s newest effort; something proven tenfold with its extraordinary opening track.
Aptly titled ‘M A N I A’ - who gives a shit about punctuation anyway? - the quartet’s seventh album is set to build upon the more, well, frankly batshit moments of its predecessor ‘American Beauty/ American Pyscho’ and dial it up to roughly 714. “I wanted to experiment - how do you make something that sounds futuristic, and ahead, with all these traditional elements,” the band told Zane Lowe on Beats 1, and - judging from ‘Young and Menace’ - experiment they have!
It’s not the only taste of the record we’ve had so far - the track’s follow-up ’Champion’ is somewhat more familiar (and undoubtedly epic) territory, but still offers up those key hints of experimentation that the album seems built on. As the song’s mantra repeats - and what ‘M A N I A’ is going to prove - is that Fall Out Boy really can do anything. (Sarah Jamieson)
Sløtface - Try Not To Freak Out (15th September, via Propeller Recordings)
Just last week, Sløtface presented ‘Pitted’, their new single and finest moment yet. We wrote: “Everything that’s brilliant about this band is crushed down into two-and-a-half minutes of the best punk-pop we’ve heard so far this year: snarling, hooky, sarcastic and life-affirming at once, ‘Pitted’ indicates that Sløtface’s upcoming debut album will be one to treasure.”
‘Try Not To Freak Out’ comes out at the end of September, and is set to be one of the best debut records of the year. We caught up with the band for an In The Studio piece around the creation of the LP, with vocalist Haley Shea telling fans to expect a varied record.
“The record gets a lot darker and more complex after [first single] ‘Magazine’,” Haley says, “and it was important for us to get a range of sounds and styles into the album, and for it to be a comprehensive mark of where we are as a band. We’ve already started thinking about album two as well - we’re ready!”
As well as getting darker from the first single onwards, the album also gets even funnier, with lyrics about dad dancing to ‘Hotline Bling’, something the band won’t apologise for. “None of us are very good dancers, but if you’re in a band and actually a good dancer, you’re trying too hard,” Haley quips. “The good thing about us is that we’re never afraid to dance. No-one’s looking at you, everyone’s thinking about themselves anyway!”
Currently barrelling their way around a summer of festivals, Sløtface will hit the ground running in September, and make their claim as one of the best new punk bands around. We’re itching to see it happen. (Will Richards)
The Horrors - V (22nd September, via Wolf Tone/Caroline International)
“It’s a risk but life isn’t much fun without risk” Faris Badwan recently stated. “It’s the antithesis of being creative if you know what you’re going to be doing all the time”. If that doesn’t hint that there’s set to be a few curveballs on The Horrors’ new album, then who knows what does. Then again, change isn’t something they’ve ever been afraid of. Skipping from the goth-punk of ‘Strange House’, through shoegaze tendencies all the way to the swooning crescendos of ‘Luminous’, they do enjoy a bit of genre-hopping.
This time round they’re apparently set to delve into the realms of 80s pop, dance and trance, but there’s already two signs that they’re set to pull off this seismic shift with aplomb. First is Faris’s commanding guest appearance on Hercules & Love Affair’s late-80s house-influenced track ‘Controller’, the second being ‘Machine’, the LP’s lead track and the first real sign of how they’re taking their influences and turning them into a beast that’s all their own. It’s a throbbing slice of industrial grit, all prowling splendour and metallic tones that hides one heck of a chorus in its subterranean depths. Whatever The Horrors deliver with ‘V’, one thing’s for certain: it won’t be like anything you’ve heard from them before. (Eugenie Johnson)
Queens Of The Stone Age - Villains (25th August, via Matador)
And then, on the fourteenth day, did Queens of the Stone Age throw an almighty curveball in the form of one Mark Ronson… Yep, there’s not much out there about Josh Homme and co’s forthcoming seventh LP – the follow up to 2013’s most excellent ‘…Like Clockwork’ – but this much we do know. On June 14th, the desert rock legends released a teaser video featuring a hammed-up faux polygraph test that revealed a title (‘Villains’) and a producer (Ronson). Then, the following day, we were gifted the record’s lead single ‘The Way You Used To Do’ – a strutting, finger-clicking thing that we labelled “fundamentally more dancey, less dense and generally more ‘up’ than anything they’ve put their name to to date”.
Since then, however, they’ve left us playing the waiting game, with little more than a tense, rumbling, 60-second teaser clip to tide us over. Cruel? Oh yes. But worth holding out for? Almost certainly. “In a world of desperately going for ‘likes’ I think ‘Villains’ is more like ‘we’ll take the dislikes, we’ll take all the outcasts’. This album is here to do bad guy stuff,” Homme told NME. Ding and, indeed, fucking dong. (Lisa Wright)
George Ezra - TBA
Making his welcome return to festival season earlier this summer, shoulder-shimmying away at Glastonbury, George Ezra didn’t waste any time in showing everyone what he’s made of when it comes to album number two. Tastes of piping hot new material were scattered between debut favourites more liberally than an unhinged baker going on a mad one with the hundreds and thousands, his newest single sitting alongside the brassy, trombone-slinging ‘All My Love’, and tender cut ‘Hold My Girl’. Unfortunately Mary the dog - who appeared in his ‘Don’t Matter Now’ video - was elsewhere engaged and could not commit to another guest cameo, but otherwise, all signs pointed to a massive new record. “He can definitely write songs that point towards a smasher of a second record,” we concluded at the time.
So, when can we expect to hear these smashers, then? The answer is probably this - very soon. Back in June, Geoff went on a Top Secret Tour around the country (shhh!) and played basically a whole record’s worth of new songs to a very lucky audience. We’ll bet he’s chomping at the bit to crack on and reveal them to the wider world later this year. (El Hunt)
St. Vincent - TBA
Just call us Sherlock Holmes, dear readers, because if we’re sniffing about for clues, it seems Highly Probable that St. Vincent is just about finished with cooking up the follow-up to 2014’s game-changing self-titled record. Right at the beginning of this year, Annie Clark told Guitar World that her new in-progress album is “the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done,” and since then all sorts of rumours have been abound; pointing at everything from collaborations with Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff, to studio time with Top Dawg Entertainment desk-whizz Sounwave. All things considered, it’s certainly looking like St Vincent’s sixth record will carry on the bonkers-pop slant of its predecessor, and the prospect of hearing it one day is giving us heart palpitations, to be honest.
So, here’s the evidence. St Vinny’s just announced a massive Fear the Future world tour, along with unleashing the all-kinds-of-ace new song ‘New York’. A quick peer around DIY HQ confirms she’s gone a bit mad with the billboards, too, posting a brand new bright pink look all around town. Hedging our bets, we’d eat our favourite hat in a single felt-riddled bite if all of this didn’t point to a new album in the near future. (El Hunt)