Appropriately timed for spring, this month’s choice of great albums is tethered together by the spirit of evolution. On Orange, the prodigious, Pulitzer-triumphing composer Caroline Shaw gives a blossoming rendition of string quartet music. At the same time, Glen Hansard has opened up his lovable acoustic palette to coloration it with a newfound, worldly flourish on This Wild Willing. Natalie Mering, who records as Weyes Blood, offers a sweeping imaginative and prescient of the ’70s pop on Titanic Rising, retaining the genre’s apocalyptic calm for a new age of crisis.
There’s a feeling of boom thru vulnerability gift, too. Whether it be rapper Kevin Abstract’s vulnerabilities set forth on ARIZONA BABY, Lizzo’s effective gospel of self-love exceptionally else, or maybe Toronto punk organization PUP’s odes to nihilism, there’s an anthem for apparently everybody. Below you will discover an alphabetized list of NPR Music’s top 10 albums for April 2019. Be sure to check out our pinnacle 20 songs from the month, which can also be available in our Spotify playlist.
Glen Hansard has made masses of essential, urgent track in each The Frames and The Swell Season. Still, his solo profession needed a jolt after 3 cute, however usually low-energy albums. Enter This Wild Willing, which massively broadens Hansard’s list of collaborators — maximum notably adding the Khoshravesh brothers, who help lend the songs a Middle Eastern sense. Dunk Murphy and Deasy, who deliver in welcome electronic, thrives. These songs feel rawer, broader, greater sweeping and emotional, and expansive, while Hansard sings approximately love, hope, and romantic sacrifice with renewed energy and grit. — Stephen Thompson
If the mystery is your cup of tea, then spend a while with Aldous Harding. This poet and songwriter from New Zealand spin tales without delay, indirect and clean-headed, with preparations that serve the narrative. Everything subjects — the units are all flawlessly placed inside the mix, and Harding, at the side of producer John Parish, lives away from consequences that so often overwhelms vocal nuance. These performances are full of exaggerated expressions comparable to a portrait painting, making Designer the audio equivalent of a Picasso, each dramatic and imaginary. —Bob Boilen
In some respects, ARIZONA BABY is an acquainted coming-of-age album in hip-hop: Social outcast struggles for attractiveness earlier than coming across himself through the track and avenging his dejected formative years. What makes Brockhampton founder Kevin Abstract’s new solo album one of a kind is the records of homophobia that has excluded voices like his from rap’s mainstream. Produced by way of indie-pop rocker Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Lorde, Pink), ARIZONA BABY reveals its bold invulnerability. It’s a step forward as ambitious as any the tradition has ever witnessed. —Rodney Carmichael
Some people insist that covering traditional recordings is an exercise in futility — the originals are so sacrosanct that any remake would be blasphemous or downright foolish. Good issue West African vocalist Angélique Kidjo ignored that unusual understanding while taking on Celia Cruz’s catalog. Celia succeeds so magnificently that it’d be difficult to assume the late Cuban vocalist giving the challenge a facet eye. Kidjo closes the circle at the song’s Afro-Cuban origins with extraordinary groovy Afro beats and even conventional West African non secular drumming. —Felix Contreras
In its cutting-edge incarnation, self-love can too frequently be cold and exclusionary. But Lizzo, luckily, by no means was given the memo on her fundamental-label debut Cuz I Love You. She’s a groundswell of expertise, interchanging sticky bar floor-soul (“Crybaby” and “Jerome”), new jack revival (“Exactly How I Feel”) and motivational, Missy Elliott-indebted pop-rap (“Soulmate” and “Tempo,” the latter of which features help from Elliott herself), and instilling her very own lustful braggadocio in the mix. Even the maximum overt bid to radio-friendly pop sounds radical in her arms, broadening her sirens of victorious girlhood to explicitly welcome trans ladies into the fold (“Like A Girl”). She embraces the gospel of self-love with such brio that her message endears itself on its own; no tweets are vital. —Joshua Bote
Kelsey Lu’s Blood looks like one of the first-rate surprises of the yr to this point. The principal label debut from the North Carolina-hailing artist takes her questions about faith, testimonies of the tour, and romanticized recollections to astral expression degrees. Though manufacturer credit range from Skrillex and Rodaidh McDonald to Jamie xx, the classically-trained cellist precariously anchors the work in a nursery of strings, every motion veering the listener into the territories of disco, pop, house, and R&B. Lu fantasizes approximately who her parents were in their teenagers (“Rebel”), reminds herself to remain real (“Poor Fake”) and chronicles her flow to California for her music (“Due West”). It’s starry-eyed yet grounding, exhilarating but intimate, which turns every play right into a treasure hunt. —Sidney Madden
Spring is here, filling the air with wish and move-pollination, and Southern California’s funky genre-defier Anderson. P aak sets the temper together with his breezily ambitious fourth album. He and mentor Dr. Dre wield a lighter touch than at the more difficult-riding Oxnard, launched much less than six months ago. Love songs like “Jet Black,” fun vignettes as within the chick-on-the-facet picaresque “Good Heels” (offering a wry Jazmine Sullivan), and bubbly political anthems like “King James” all emanate soulful giddiness focused on Park’s raspy allure as both a singer and a rapper. Fancy guest stars like Smokey Robinson and André 3000 without problems acquiesce to Park’s accurate-natured international building. —Ann Powers