For all the negatives 2017 has brought, it has been a great year for music, as evidenced by our list of the best albums of the year. There has been some really innovative work from artists on the rise, from SZA to Lil Uzi Vert to Kelela. But we’ve also had some longtime talents come with albums that challenged not only listeners but the artists themselves. Tyler the Creator gave us his most profound and emotional albums yet. Childish Gambino proved that he’s more than clever wordplay, and Lorde followed her debut with an album that is as catchy as it is insightful. It has not been a year of holding back.
Naturally, with all those great records to listen to, there was so much music that many of us couldn’t get around to, even from artists who are by no means new faces. It’s been a powerful year for electronic artists like Fever Ray and Jlin, whose latest records offer music that is at once challenging and irresistible. Perfume Genius, who returned with his fourth album, subverts the notion that music has to be sad to be affecting. There’s also Jonwayne and Kamaiyah, newish voices who have found ways to channel their demons into stinging creations. Below are albums from the past year that should be on your radar.