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The 10 Best Ambient Albums of 2020

In a year that felt lonelier than ever, some expected ambient music to be a soothing balm. Yet ambient artists capture the sadness, the bliss, the hurt, and the healing of this wild year better than most.


The Avalanches Say 'We Will Always Love You'

The Avalanches as a collaborative pop project isn't a bad look, but the guests here embarrass themselves in too many ways, mostly through vague polemics.


Ariana Grande 's 'Positions' Is Pure Pop Sugar

Ariana Grande's Positions is a perfect pop album in a very conservative sense of the term.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


English Folkie Richard Dawson's 'Republic of Geordieland' Features Some of His Best Songs

This Bandcamp-exclusive "dog's dinner" is better than Richard Dawson gives it credit for and features some of his best songs and guitar playing.


Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Shinichi Atobe's 'Yes' Sports an Appealing Electronic Eeriness

Despite its reverence for the roots of house music, an appealing eeriness blows through electronic producer Shinichi Atobe's Yes like a salty sea breeze.


Vladislav Delay Blends Electronics and Metal on the Brutal 'Rakka'

Sasu Ripatti's first Vladislav Delay album in six years, Rakka, is his shortest and most brutal, tying his electronic music legacy to his metal roots.


Destroyer's 'Have We Met' Is Dan Bejar's Best Album Since 2011's 'Kaputt'

Dan Bejar seems omnipresent on Destroyer's first album of the 2020s, moving through the arrangements at his own whim.


Prince's '1999' Shines a Light on What Might Be the Best Year Ever for a Pop Artist

Prince's 1999 is not so much one of the greatest albums of all time as a curation from an amorphous mass of music that might be one of the greatest achievements in pop.


The 25 Best Electronic Albums of 2019

Electronic music is a huge tent with so many diverse approaches, and it's more international than ever with producers around the globe pushing music forward. The year's best albums featured returns from established talents, as well as ground-breaking newcomers, and a host of women changing the old boy's club of electronic music.


Pan American Expresse Powerful Emotions Through Guitar Instrumentals on 'A Son'

As Pan American, Mark Nelson sings for the first time since his magnum opus Quiet City, but his emotions are most powerfully expressed through his instrumental guitar compositions.


The 10 Best Ambient Albums of 2019

Ambient music has grown with the birth of streaming, ushering in big audiences to sounds both challenging and relaxing. Here are ten best records of the year that say so much without saying a word.


Hans-Peter Lindstrøm's Hardware Rabbit Hole

Norwegian producer Lindstrøm swears off computers on his meditative new album On a Clear Day I Can See You Forever. PopMatters speaks with him about his new toys and the new perspectives it's opened up.


"You Can Have It All": Ariel Pink on His Odds & Sods

Los Angeles pop weirdo Ariel Pink looks back at two early records freshly reissued by Mexican Summer and discusses his new Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2 rarities collection.

Daniel Bromfield

Danny Brown's 'uknowhatimsayin¿' Is a Classic Hip-Hop Record Without the Experimental Edge

Detroit rapper Danny Brown's uknowhatimsayin¿ is a spare, principled record that's mostly about hard beats and harder bars.


Jenny Hval's 'The Practice of Love' Is Brainy, Conceptual, and Hugely Entertaining

Jenny Hval's The Practice of Love is a playful, conceptual pop record that makes sorting through its heady themes as fun as listening to it.


Young Thug Gets Forthright on 'So Much Fun'

The world's most inscrutable rapper, Young Thug makes clear what he's saying and where he stands on his most forthright release yet.


It's Remarkable How Heavy Loscil Makes Emptiness Feel on 'Equivalents'

Scott Morgan makes emptiness feel heavy on Equivalents, an album inspired by Albert Stieglitz's photographs of clouds.


Bon Iver's 'i,i' Hangs Between Surrealism and Meaning

Justin Vernon's (Bon Iver) lyricism is as cryptic as ever, but the firmness with which he sings his abstractions robs his fourth album of much of its mystery.


Moodymann's 'Sinner' Paints a Portrait of Obsession

On Sinner, Detroit producer Moodymann lets us listen in on the hallucinatory, self-contradictory conversation he's perpetually having with himself.


Lil Nas X's 7 (EP) Is the Work of a Canny Prankster

The genre-agnostic "Old Town Road" rapper's lyrics are less interesting than the scenery Lil Nas X drops them in.


Kevin Richard Martin's 'Sirens' Is Harrowing Music Inspired by Child Birth

Inspired by the traumatic circumstances of his child's early birth, Kevin Richard Martin's Sirens is one of the most frightening works of domestic horror ever committed to record.

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