Best 50 Albums of 2024 So Far

The 50 Best Albums of 2024 So Far

The 50 best albums of 2024 offer sublime music as major artists return with new work and brilliant new sounds bubble up from the underground and worldwide.

Deeper Well

(MCA Nashville / Interscope)

“I’m sayin’ goodbye to the people / That I feel are real good at wastin’ my time,” sings Kacey Musgraves on the title track to her sixth studio album, Deeper Well. “No regrets, baby, I just think that maybe / You go your way, and I’ll go mine.” Taken at face value, the song reads as a kind of sequel to “Slow Burn”, the opening track of Musgraves’ largely successful fourth LP Golden Hour, which won her the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. This, in turn, marks a return of the folksy, down-home version of Kacey Musgraves that listeners, even outside country music fandom, have come to know and love.

While Deeper Well can be listened to as a companion to Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves isn’t necessarily trying to recreate its magic formula. Instead, the singer has grown significantly as a musician and lyricist over the last six years. Musgraves is doing what she does best: seeing herself and the world as constantly being in flux and trying to examine her place within it. – Jeffrey Davies



The Ophelias get stronger and better with every release, and Ribbon, their latest EP, finds them further exploring darker, heavier sounds that were hinted at on 2021’s excellent Crocus. “Becoming a Nun”, a standout from that work, seems to light the way forward here. That record was the sound of a band starting to gel, with the lineup of singer-guitarist Spencer Peppet, bassist Jo Shaffer, drummer Mic Adams, and violinist Andrea Guttman Fuentes creating a compelling swirl of folk and pop elevated by Peppet’s lyrics, gutting and darkly funny in equal measure. On Ribbon, the Ophelias again weave this moodiness seamlessly into a short but satisfying song cycle, and hopefully, the louder guitar is here to stay for a while.

Pure Love


Mall Girl released Pure Love before Valentine’s Day as if on cue. But instead of celebrating love and feeling swept off your feet, the Norwegian trio capture the growing pains of being in your mid-20s. They describe Pure Love as a “breakup album”. With the same stroke, the outfit challenges pop conventions with a unique blend of math rock, Midwest emo, indie pop, and jazz. While this genre cross-contamination may sound strange–its execution at risk of being contrived, too obvious, or uneven–the Oslo group find a perfect balance, making for one of the most exciting releases of the new year. 

Pure Love is loaded with hits–songs with infectious vocal melodies, playful lyrics, and impressive guitar and drum work. Mall Girl are in a category of their own. The Scandinavian art-pop trio possess so much potential, and Pure Love is one of the most exciting releases of the new year. To put my feelings about this album succinctly and compel American listeners, Pure Love is pure bliss. – Brandon Miller


(Psychic Hotline)

Reyna Tropical began as a duo in 2016 as a collaboration between singer/guitarist/songwriter Fabiola Reyna and DJ, musician, and artist Nactali “Sumohair” Diaz. The duo released two highly regarded EPs that featured highly rhythmic music that blended exotic drumbeats, loopy guitar phrases, and celestial vocals. Their music made one want to dance and dream at the same time. Sadly, Sumo died in an e-scooter accident in Los Angeles in 2022. Fabio has soldiered on and recently released Reyna Tropical’s first full-length album, Malegría. It’s a wild creation filled with lively instrumental surface buoyancy, thoughtful, completive lyrics, field recordings from nature, and conversational interludes previously recorded between Sumo and Fabi.

Fabi generally sings in a hushed voice, which creates intimacy with the listener. She presents the character of the friend who tells us what we should already know. Life is a blend of joy and sorrow, the sweetness of life’s moments mixed with bitterness. All we have is each other. Let’s dance and fall in love, for what else is there? Reyna Tropical’s Malegría provides the soundtrack. – Steve Horowitz


(Thrill Jockey)

On previous albums like Everything Perfect Is Already Here (2022) and A Softer Focus (2021), Claire Rousay embraced ambient music and field recordings, turning activities as mundane as a trip to a local farmer’s market into a compelling experimental audio experience. On her latest LP, there’s more of a singer-songwriter vibe, albeit one that still leans on these ambient stylings to bolster the songs, especially since the subject matter tends to be personal loss and sadness. Sentiment is a deeply melancholic work suffused with a gentle beauty in the emotions Rousay expresses in the lyrics and the ambient delights that the music provides. The outcome is partially surprising, given the context of Rousay’s previous efforts, but a warm, welcome surprise. – Chris Ingalls

Rooting for Love

(Drag City)

With ten tracks and a duration of 42 minutes, Laetitia Sadier‘s Rooting for Love is an exploratory work that never settles into a single groove or unified message despite its residing theme. This assessment is not to say that it is inconclusive or uncommitted. Similar to her past work with Stereolab, which regrouped in 2019, Sadier uses pop music as a vehicle for social criticism. In this instance, Rooting for Love approaches the title subject from different perspectives with the intention of decentering strictly romantic versions of love. But more than this, she sees love as a solution for our contemporary ills, whether personal, political, or planetary. For Sadier, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Rooting for Love is not Marxist by any crude stretch, but Sadier still beholds a radical worldview, with love’s potential to enable revolution by other means.

Dream Journal & The Apocalypse

(Gold Bolus)

The combination of electronics with voice and more traditional instruments is certainly nothing new. Still, Hannah Selin has made the experience striking and typically anachronistic, moving it into areas of heightened mystery and dreamy ambience. The result isn’t merely ethereal or science-fiction-like; it transcends typical experimental sound design and moves into the hallucinatory. Suffice it to say that it’s an intense, deeply moving experience. Each piece on Dream Journal & The Apocalypse tells a unique story, merging materials from disparate periods and sources.

Hannah Selin has created a breathtaking, profoundly engaging set of compositions that speaks to her collaborative efforts – every single performer on this album does amazing work here – as well as beautifully and hauntingly creating a sonic equivalent to deep sleep and vivid, complex dream states. It’s unlikely you’ll ever hear another album quite like this. – Chris Ingalls

Wall of Eyes


To age gracefully is to achieve a net positive; it is to maintain growth without destroying yourself, as we tend to do as young people. One could argue that Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have aged about as gracefully as anyone in their rare circumstances has. Yorke might disagree. In that interview with Dazed, he claims to embody his favorite Tom Waits-ism: “I wish to age disgracefully”, but the proof is in the sound.

Throughout their disparate excursions into capturing beauty in sound, a through-line persists: daisy-chained minor chords, woozy electronics, swooping strings, and anxious lyrical impressions paradoxically swirling with cynicism and lightness. If that is the proven alchemy between these two specific musicians, then it is within the bounds of that alchemy that the Smile’s second record, Wall of Eyes, soars. It’s as focused a statement as Yorke and Greenwood have offered, and it is presented with such grace and care as to be a high watermark in both of their oeuvres. – Rob Moura

Laugh Ash


Ches Smith has jazz chops for days, but he is part of a scene that defies the obvious by creatively blending tonal jazz, harmonic freedom, electronics, classical “new music”, and traditions from around the world. Each song on Smith’s Laugh Ash melts into the next, suggesting a suite of sorts, even if the individual tracks sometimes feel internally episodic. The band are seamless. Each horn player is featured in piercing, right-to-the-point solos. Shara Lunon is fluid and locked in, seeming in every respect a singer who is part of the band but can also step into the spotlight. It is a group of ten that plays with the nimbleness of a great quintet. Smith is writing and producing exhilarating music, working in the fruitful gap that exists in the triangular space with “jazz” on one side, egg-headed classical “new music” on another, and hip-hop electronica on yet another side. – Will Layman

Letter to Self

(City Slang)

Ireland’s Sprints have been on the rise since their formation in 2019, and finally, we have their full-length Letter to Self, a blast of anger and catharsis equally equipped to support a circle pit at a club or a night at home alone breaking down. It sounds nothing like the empowering hardcore sounds of American bands like GEL, but it does have a similar mission. It would be hard to come up with a more apt name for this record; while singer Karla Chubb addresses the listener as “you” frequently, it could easily be her having it out with herself and building herself back up.

Chubb’s voice recalls some of the best; you can hear Jehnny Beth and PJ Harvey in the righteous, soulful fury in her voice. It is easy to feel what she’s feeling, from a whisper to a shout, from joy to pain. Her lyrics are sharp and direct, and the band is there to match her, providing tension and release across all 11 songs. While far from poppy, the songs have a hooky rawness that is addictive. – Brian Stout