Fall Arts Preview: Album picks

Hippo Campus will release “Bambi” Sept. 28.
Hippo Campus will release “Bambi” Sept. 28.Pooneh Ghana

APHEX TWIN, “Collapse” Any new release from the consciousness-shifting electronic pioneer — whose last project, “Syro,” earned him Grammy gold in 2015, marking a triumphant return after a 13-year hiatus — is worth a listen. And that frenzied, apocalyptic advance single “T69 collapse” offered few clues as to what to expect from the rest of the EP was perhaps the most exciting thing about it; turns out, that’s because it’s a little tricky to properly set the tone for a skittering sonic acid-trip that feels a bit like floating over the surface of an alien planet, computer code and vital signs strobing urgently across the inside of your space helmet. (Sept. 14)

CARRIE UNDERWOOD, “Cry Pretty” With her 4x4-keying days now just distant dots in the rearview, the pop-country queen mines married life, motherhood, and (most unexpectedly) the morass of modern politics for inspiration across this soulful collection, her sixth overall and first as a producer. “The Bullet” and “Spinning Bottles” are two of Underwood’s most emotional efforts; elsewhere, on scorchers like “Drinking Alone,” she proves her sultry, smoky pipes can still make the most of a dimly lit barroom and a tall, mysterious stranger. (Sept. 14)


6LACK, “East Atlanta Love Letter” After scoring back-to-back hits on his 2016 debut — slow-grooving “PRBLMS” and anthemic kiss-off “Ex Calling” — Atlanta-bred trap-soul singer 6LACK was catapulted to stardom. The artist’s sophomore record — the cover of which tellingly finds 6LACK in a kitchen he’s turned into a makeshift studio, cooking up impromptu beats with daughter Syx Rose Valentine strapped to his chest — goes home without reining in the artist’s far-ranging R&B sound. (Sept. 14)

CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS, “Chris” French synth-pop siren Héloïse Letissier — the force of nature behind this avant-garde pop project, which first made a splash stateside in 2015 — crafts club-ready empowerment anthems that fit neatly into few genre boxes. And that’s the whole point. Already-released single “Girlfriend,” a radiant rejection of narrowly defined gender binaries that proudly underscores Letissier’s status as a queer icon, suggests sophomore record “Chris” will reunite listeners with an artist increasingly bent on eschewing (if not outright escaping) definition in all forms. (Sept. 21)


JOSH GROBAN, “Bridges” After a stint on Broadway, pop-opera’s premier poster boy returns with his first new music in three years, a full-throated body of work that flows between stirring ballads (“River”) and powerhouse collaborations (including titan of tenor Andrea Bocelli) with a sanguine sincerity that only serves to elevate his iconic cry-from-the-mountaintop tenor. (Sept. 21)

CHER, “Dancing Queen” Knowing me, knowing you, there is nothing we can do about Cher’s glitter-drenched spin on the ABBA catalog — the perhaps-inevitable result of casting the Goddess herself in a “Mamma Mia!” sequel — racing up the charts this fall. Luckily, cyborgizing the Swedes’ sugar-rush anthems with her inimitable flair for Auto-tuned excess, Cher’s delivered a fittingly eccentric yet reliably industrial-strength pop curio. (Sept. 28)

HIPPO CAMPUS, “Bambi” The Minneapolis quartet’s sophomore record is a massive step forward, taking its cues from the best songs off debut “Landmark” to craft an album-long interrogation of mental health and masculinity. They say the more serious subject matter came about as a result of each member writing and demo-ing material individually before bringing it into the studio. Sonically, too, “Bambi” breaks fresh ground, emphasizing synths and programmed drums that bring the band’s style closer to something like a cheerily blazed Two Door Cinema Club. (Sept. 28)


BROCKHAMPTON, “Iridescence” 2017 was one hell of a year for the world’s most brazenly ambitious (and probably best) boy band. Under the ace leadership of Kevin Abstract, the many-membered hip-hop collective (they numbered 13 at most recent roll call) put out three albums between June and December, each more raucously energetic and experimental than the last. This just-announced follow-up — their first under a reportedly lucrative RCA Records deal — promises to further underscore the group’s twin ethos of impulse and unity, with hard-swagger singles like “1999 Wildfire” standing alongside tracks conceived during this past month’s European tour. (September TBA)

Bryan Allen Lamb

Noname’s sophomore release “Room 25” is another insightful, incandescent coup for the rapper-poet

NONAME, “Room 25” Rapper-poet (and Chance the Rapper affiliate) Noname has only grown wiser and more wondrous since her 2016 mixtape “Telefone” emerged as one of that year’s most stunning, lyrically stimulating hip-hop debuts. Expect “Room 25,” her closely guarded follow-up, to further solidify one of modern music’s most breathless storytellers with tales of identity and self-expression as intricately constructed as they are impeccably executed. (September TBA)

ADRIANNE LENKER, “abysskiss” It’s been two years since the Big Thief bandleader scored a breakthrough hit with that group’s debut “Masterpiece.” This solo disc is more spectral and elegiac than the band’s output in how it wraps her hushed vocals in similarly soft instruments, from gingerly plucked acoustic guitars to muted keyboards. But as a songwriter, her harsh, elemental perspective will feel achingly familiar to anyone who spent more evenings than they care to admit sobbing to Big Thief hits “Paul” and “Lorraine.” (Oct. 5)


Eliot Lee Hazel

From top: Hippo Campus, Noname, and Cat Power are among the artists set to release new albums this fall.

From top: Hippo Campus, Noname, and Cat Power are among the artists set to release new albums this fall.

CAT POWER, “Wanderer” The music on Cat Power’s first release in six years swirls like morning fog, diluting none of the mystery that’s long coursed beneath her exquisite vocals. Folk and blues singers encountered during the musician’s recent travels shaped the disc’s placid sound, but there’s only one featured: Lana Del Rey, who coos gamely across rousing single “Woman,” a gathering storm cloud of a song that builds in force and fury until you can practically feel the heat of the lightning bolts crackling around inside. (Oct. 5)

KT Tunstall, “WAX” It’s somehow been 14 years since the Scottish singer-songwriter exploded into the mainstream with “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” On her sixth LP — the second in a trilogy centered on spirit, body, and mind that began with 2016’s “KIN” — Tunstall delivers more of the guitar-fronted, emotionally super-charged alt-rock that fans have come to expect; but judging by the rhythmic power of lead single “The River,” she’s still finding plenty of ways to improve on her winning formula. (Oct. 5)

EMPRESS OF, “Us” After so memorably moonlighting on Blood Orange’s superlative “Best to You,” LA-based chanteuse Lorely Rodriguez crafts a sophomore record that expands on that single’s melding of dance-pop ecstasy and more jagged emotional turmoil. Whether she’s giddily investing in one incipient romance (“Just the Same”) or airily floating above the ruins of another (standout single “When I’m With Him”), the one thing this Empress never surrenders is control over her own seductive, synth-steeped realm. (Oct. 19)



The dulcet-toned Emerson grad behind breakout 2017 EP “Scooter Blues” has been busy since relocating to LA, enlisting three former classmates (and one exuberant trumpet player) to perfect an onstage synergy they rather accurately describe as “Norah Jones out to dinner with Lake Street Dive.” The band’s first collection further establishes Leon as an exceptional storyteller, prone to the kinds of rose-colored reveries you want to live inside of, even as it festoons her vocals with sun-dappled guitars and effusive percussion. (October TBA)

BOYGENIUS, “boygenius” Three of indie-folk’s hottest tickets — singer-songwriters Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers (touring together this fall, they hit the Orpheum Nov. 8) — form a sad-girl supergroup on this sublime, six-song EP, which often illuminates each member’s strengths (Dacus’s heart-sore lyrics, Baker’s haunting vocals, Bridgers’s roaring guitar) before bringing them together for harmonies equal parts crushing and cathartic. (Nov. 9)

Isaac Feldberg can be reached at isaac.feldberg@globe.com, and on Twitter at @isaacfeldberg.