15 of the fall’s best albums

Charli XCX releases her new album “Charli” on Sept. 13.
Charli XCX releases her new album “Charli” on Sept. 13.Marcus Cooper

CHARLI XCX, “Charli” Her industrial-strength cybertronics have always sounded massive, with glitchy, bubblegum-bass foundations and hooks that roar like jet engines. But on Charli’s first LP since 2014’s “Sucker,” she’s working more fervently than ever to deconstruct pop from within, maximizing its bright, sticky artifices until they grow thrillingly alien. All these deranged dancefloor anthems (“Shake It”) and computerized ballads (“White Mercedes”) sound like transmissions from some futuristic android celebrating its liberation at the club. (Sept. 13)

CLIFF NOTEZ, “Why the Wild Things Are” A true renaissance man (rapper, filmmaker, activist, media entrepreneur), Notez also deserves recognition as one of the Boston music scene’s indispensables. His knowledge of what the city sounds like these days is second to none, owing to his success with artist collective HipStory and its grassroots counter-fest Boston Answering. On the emcee’s excellent, multistoried follow-up to “When the Sidewalk Ends,” he invites as many neighbors as can fit — too many to name, in fact, though any guest list that pairs up STL GLD and Photocomfort is worth careful study — to mix and mingle at the year's buzziest block party. (Sept. 13)


BRITTANY HOWARD, “Jaime” No one sings from the soul quite like Howard, the driving force behind Alabama Shakes. Stepping out on her own for this collection of rhapsodic blues-rock (“Stay High”) and crunchy, psychedelic funk (“History Repeats”), the singer gets achingly personal in sharing her experiences growing up black, gay, and poor in the rural South. “Jaime” is named for Howard’s sister, who died at 13, but the album’s more than a memorial. Ambitious and electrifying, it bears the signature of a modern master excavating the past in search of her future. (Sept. 20)

CHASTITY BELT, “Chastity Belt” For fans of: flannel shirts and existential terror. Chastity Belt’s fourth LP is one long exhale, filled with hazy guitar work and spare, melodic vignettes that circle its members’ anxieties without describing them outright. All four share lead vocals on different tracks, and that division of labor is indicative of how they’ve progressed as a band. Even on songs as restless and storm-swept as “Half-Hearted,” Chastity Belt’s never sounded more blissfully attuned to their craft — and to each other. (Sept. 20)


TWEN, “Awestruck” The front half of this Nashville-via-Boston duo’s debut comprises reworked versions of five tunes they first recorded, circa 2016, in an Allston basement. Lead vocalist Jane Fitzsimmons and guitarist Ian Jones spent the next 2½ years touring on those tracks, fuzzy dream-pop flumes that submerged her vocals in thick waves of shoegaze guitar. “Awestruck” is a more formal introduction, the pair polishing up numbers like sun-drenched “Damsel” and the more hushed “Holy River” without abandoning the scrappy DIY ethos that’s brought them this far. (Sept. 20)

LIAM GALLAGHER, “Why Me? Why Not.” That cocksure title sets the tone on Gallagher’s second solo effort. The ex-Oasis member, once Britpop’s most combative frontman, co-wrote his new record with Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt and Adele producer Greg Kurstin; the songs are stronger for it, from foot-stomping lead single “Shockwave” to the more sentimental “Once.” There are, of course, ample shots at brother Noel, some cheaper than others, but Gallagher’s interest in bettering his songcraft is what stands out most across this set. (Sept. 20)

TEGAN AND SARA, “Hey, I’m Just Like You” “This is a record we never could have made as teenagers, full of songs we never could have written as adults,” say the Canadian indie-pop stalwarts, introducing a set of tunes they penned in high school. Lifted off cassette tapes and reinvented by two artists who now possess well over two decades of studio expertise, this alternately punky and poignant collection proves the twins were born songwriters — and makes it clear why, for their 16th birthdays, Dad caved in to their demand for an electric guitar. (Sept. 27)


THE WOLFF SISTERS, “Queendom of Nothing” Previously a well-kept secret, this trio earned a breakthrough Boston Music Awards nomination (for Folk Artist of the Year) last fall. On their breezy third album, Rebecca, Rachael, and Kat Wolff — actual sisters, raised just outside the city — live comfily at the crossroads of Americana, roots, and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll, where The Band might meet Brandi Carlile and take her out for a beer. (Oct. 1)

ANGEL OLSEN, “All Mirrors” Angel Olsen contains multitudes, and she spends much of this symphonic fourth LP unpacking them, piece by piece, inside a vast echo chamber. Flanked by a 14-piece orchestra and armed with that signature vibrato — capable of cutting through thicketed arrangements with surgical precision and other times building into a gale-force howl — Olsen lets her emotions and ideas ring out fully. That translates to a bold, cinematic disc, replete with grand, jazz-lounge flourishes and tumultuous soundscapes her voice weathers like a ship in a storm.
(Oct. 4)


KING PRINCESS, “Cheap Queen” She won’t turn 21 until December, but this uber-cool Brooklynite — real name Mikaela Straus — is already queer pop royalty, thanks to her 2018 “Make My Bed” EP. But if that 15-minute release made for savory amuse-bouche, this debut is the extravagant entrée. Straus crafts bruised-heart ballads, swaggering pride anthems, and often songs that do both; they’re “sad bangers,” music you dance to with tears in your eyes. The best ones here — from suave, smoky “Prophet” to helplessly hopeful “Watching My Phone” — pair excellently with smaller-scale slow-burners (“Isabel’s Moment”). This king’s reign is off to an auspicious start. (Oct. 25)

CLIPPING., “There Existed an Addiction to Blood” “The bags on the table ain’t for weight,” warns Daveed Diggs. “They for body parts.” It’s a lurid snatch of flash-fiction storytelling on an album overrun by it, as this experimental hip-hop trio feasts upon the eerie, hyperviolent tropes of mid-’90s horrorcore. On “Nothing Is Safe,” Diggs recounts a police raid on a trap-house from the perspective of those inside, a baleful John Carpenter-inspired beat plinking away as bullets fly and bodies drop. Werewolves, demons, and vampires lie in wait alongside racist cops and pusher-men as clipping.’s vision of American dreams warping into nightmares builds in bone-rattling force. (Oct. 18)

FOALS, “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2” Back in March, this concept album’s first half left the Oxford rockers on their knees, powerless to intervene as the world went down in flames. How do you cope with the apocalypse? If all the bellows ripping loose from frontman Yannis Philippakis on brute-force single “Black Bull” and bellicose “Like Lightning” are any indication, through a mixture of pit-stained perseverance and primal-scream therapy. Hard-thrashing guitars and ominous synthesizers are gradually offset by more ambient textures across epic, 10-minute closer “Neptune,” as signs of life restore hope to the band’s would-be wasteland. (Oct. 18)


CAROLINE POLACHEK, “Pang” The synth-pop aeronaut — formerly of indie duo Chairlift — enters her next phase on this gorgeous, fluttering collection. Polachek’s elastic voice can stretch from brooding to ecstatic in less than a single line. But it’s perhaps never sounded this expressionistic; songs like the twinkling “Go As A Dream” and kaleidoscopic “Door” positively burst with color. Gliding over lush, electro-organic canopies she largely produced herself, Polachek often sings of feeling afraid to take wing, risking either a swift plunge toward Earth or dissipation in the ether. The music here is strong and varied enough to suggest she’s conquered any fear of flying. (Oct. 25)

NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE, “Colorado” Named for where it was created and recorded, mostly live in the studio, the rock legend’s latest collection — and first since 2012’s “Psychedelic Pill” — is sprawling and panoramic. Backed up by faithful electric-rock brigadiers Crazy Horse, Young alternates between jangly guitar odysseys (the 13-minute “She Showed Me Love”) and tender ballads (“Milky Way”). Now 73, he sounds equally at peace waxing nostalgic on “Olden Days” and saluting the next generation on “Rainbow of Colors.” (Oct. 25)

FKA TWIGS, “Magdalene” In a recent i-D interview, the avant-R&B enigma revealed her new album’s arrival this fall. Lead single “Cellophane” felt almost impossibly vulnerable, twigs foregrounding her whispery, spider-silk falsetto and leaving more-often oppressive production elements to skitter away in the shadows. Whether “Magdalene” follows suit or fashions other kinds of sonic spaces for her to haunt — with trap god Future on one track, the latter seems probable — new music from an artist as willfully unclassifiable as twigs is one of the season’s major wild cards. (TBA)

Isaac Feldberg can be reached at isaac.feldberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @isaacfeldberg.