The 10 Albums You Need to Hear This February


It’s only been two-and-a-bit weeks since the inauguration, but it feels like two years, right? Well, at least you can take your mind off the way that this country/the world appear to be spiraling into a Trumpian dystopia with these fine albums!

Syd — Fin (Out now)

We don’t do a Album of the Month feature at Flavorwire these days, but if we did, this would probably be this month’s anointed record. The debut solo album by Syd, better known as Syd the Kid of Odd Future and The Internet fame, is a strikingly accomplished collection of smooth neo-R&B. Crucially, there’s a beating heart beneath the gloss: Fin evokes the same sort of late night alienation that Syd’s OFWGKTA colleague Frank Ocean specializes in. It’s an album that is as vulnerable and relatable as it is slick and well-produced — as Gawker Jezebel’s Rich Juwziak notes here, “It is enviably cool throughout without ever being so at the expense of the listener.”

Sampha — Process (Out now)

This is the debut solo album from ubiquitous producer/vocal collaborator Sampha, who’s worked with FKA twigs, Solange, Drake, and Kanye, to name a few. The title ponders the blanketing way people commonly refer to grief — and offers something more unruly, dynamic and personal than anything that could be summed up by a given “process.” Sampha often stops to centralize his glitchy soul music around analog instruments (he lets the piano be bluntly emotive, and allows the Kora to somehow achieve tranquilizing freneticism) but scarcely lets any instrument get in the way of his voice, which strives to be the album’s constant. Both grieving and vital, it fights to maintain itself across the album’s — and its internal grief-“process’s” — many turns. — Moze Halperin

Moon Duo — Occult Architecture (Out now)

Yay for brain-melting dark synth freakouts! It’s like Wierd never ended!

The Bats — The Deep Set (Out now)

It’s kind of hard to believe that The Bats have been back for a decade now — this is their fourth album since their 2005 reunion, and like its predecessors, it shows that the band have lost none of the songwriting chops that made them one of the most prominent exponents of the much-lauded “Dunedin sound” in the 1980s. (They’re actually from Christchurch, but close enough.) While their music is timeless, their songs are very much rooted in the present. “Not So Good” (above), this album’s closing track, lambasts a leader who sounds awfully familiar: “Every time he opens up/ He’s filling up a liar’s cup / He knows better, and that’s for sure/ It’s your fault if you are poor.”

Jens Lekman — Life Will See You Now (February 17)

Yay for new Jens! Lekman has long been one of Flavorwire’s favorite lyricists, and Life Will See You Now finds him embracing the idea that he’s as much a storyteller as he is a songwriter. The album’s opening track, “To Know Your Mission,” relates an epiphany that came to him 20 years ago, that “In a world of mouths, I want to be an ear,” and the rest of the songs here do exactly that — they listen to their subjects’ stories, and then share them with wit and compassion. And sometimes those subjects speak for themselves: “If you’re gonna write a song about this,” implores the friend who inspired “Hotwire the Ferris Wheel,” “please don’t make it a sad song.” Lekman, of course, obliges.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — Flying Microtonal Banana (February 24)

Don’t be like your correspondent and let King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s silly band name put you off, because if you like fuzzed-out psychedelia, the eponymous monarch and his band are the business. You can stream three tracks from, ahem, Flying Microtonal Banana at their Bandcamp site, and they’re all ace.

Thundercat — Drunk (February 24)

Speaking of royalty, Thundercat is the 21st century’s reigning king of the bass guitar, and he is in suitably regal form on this, his fourth solo album. He is apparently very proud of the fact that the guest list features Kenny Loggins — yes, that Kenny Loggins — and Michael McDonald, both of whom feature on lead single “Show You the Way” (above). Other guests include Kendrick Lamar, for whose marvelous To Pimp a Butterfly Thundercat provided bass, along with Pharrell, Wiz Khalifa, and Thundercat’s label boss Flying Lotus (who’s taken time off making bonkers movies long enough to handle production duties throughout.)

Dirty Projectors — Dirty Projectors (February 24)

It seems perhaps too easy to relate this album’s air of melancholy to the much-publicized demise of the romantic relationship between Dirty Projectors main man David Longstreth and his former bandmate Amber Coffman, but sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one. From the very first notes of lead single and album opener “Keep Your Name” (above), it’s clear that this is a very different Dirty Projectors album: there’s the sound of distant bells, and then the first thing you hear is Longstreth’s voice, alone, singing “I don’t know why you abandoned me/ You were my soul and my partner.” Well, then. Similarly blunt, second-person addresses to an absent partner occur throughout, and while Dirty Projectors’ signature headache-inducing production is as ornate and disorientating as ever, there’s something direct about this record, which makes it less oblique and more affecting than the band’s previous releases. Love hurts.

Pissed Jeans — Why Love Now (February 24)

Pissed Jeans sound exactly like you’d think a band called Pissed Jeans would sound. This is a good thing.

Xiu Xiu — Forget (February 24)

As per this record’s press release, it was written while Xiu Xiu were recording their Twin Peaks album, and while it’s probably stretching a bit far to draw a direct line between the two, there’s something that sounds kinda widescreen about Forget. And, of course, something dark and macabre, but on that front, we wouldn’t expect any less from Jamie Stewart, would we?