The music year has its own rhythm, its own peaks and troughs.
May 2019 is definitely a peak. Each week seemed to bring a foray of stunning album releases, including more than a few that will rank close to the top of those all-important Year End lists.
From Skepta to slowthai, Hayden Thorpe to Skinny Pelembe, Tyler the Creator to Big Thief, here are the best albums from the past month...
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Skepta - 'Ignorance Is Bliss' // REVIEW
Skepta is at his lyrical best with quotables for days, but whether it be embarrassing or regrettable, he doesn’t shy away from his past. While this dose of nostalgia adds personality to the album, he still manages to consistently let us into his mind-state as a now 36-year-old man in 2019.
One thing you can’t help but admire and are sure to keep coming back to, is the sparse, yet remarkably layered production, almost all of which was handled by the man himself. - Aaron Bishop
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Hayden Thorpe - 'Diviner' // REVIEW
The album is full of the poignant melodies and clever wordplay that made Wild Beasts such an unstoppable force, but it’s the music that is the most striking and memorable. Gentle piano/keyboard ballads are the order of the day with subtle electronics adding flourishes of colour and texture here and there, but the star of the show is Thorpe’s vibrant and melodious vocals. - Nick Roseblade
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slowthai - 'Nothing Great About Britain' // REVIEW
This compelling and provocative record is a haunting echo of a seemingly hopeless vignette of Britain today, where slowthai offers the slightest glimmer of optimism for a potentially brighter future.
slowthai is the unexpected hero for the people we didn’t know we needed, but so many, justly deserve. - Yasmin Cowan
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Ari Lennox - 'Shea Butter Baby' // REVIEW
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of ‘Shea Butter Baby’ is an authentic innocence that threads through it – the subtle interludes that feature in the space between songs lay bare Ari Lennox’s passions, fears, desires, and intentions.
They allow listeners to get to know the singer and her universe, evoking an undeniable form of humility – something that makes the soloist captivating. - Nicolas Tyrell
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Tyler, the Creator - 'IGOR' // REVIEW
Ultimately ‘Igor’ shows a maturity that his previous albums have been accused of missing. Tyler has grown up a lot over the past decade, mostly in public, and this is on display on ‘IGOR’.
At times this feels like the definitive breakup album. But given Tyler’s schizophrenia ability to talk to, and about, himself is he breaking up with his past? - Nick Roseblade
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Skinny Pelembe - 'Dreaming Is Dead Now' // REVIEW
Effectively ‘Dreaming Is Dead Now’ is the sound of ‘60s West Coast folk being fed into a sampler, loops and beats are created while Pelembe’s laconic vocals float over the finished track. And it’s the vocals that are the star of the album.
At times powerful and timeless, at other times they reduce to almost hushed whispers – there is a quality to his voice that keeps you hooked. This is the power of Skinny Pelembe and ‘Dreaming Is Dead Now’. - Nick Roseblade
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Pivot Gang - 'You Can't Sit With Us' // REVIEW
Pivot Gang skilfully and thoughtfully depict stories that probably resonate with many young black males growing up in the West Side of Chicago, and they’ve done that while creating an authentic and distinguished project befitting of the standards set by previous generations of their city’s hip-hop artists. A proud moment. - Kofi Yeboah-Mensah
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Holly Herndon - 'Proto' // REVIEW
At times the line connecting human and machine becomes more exacting, as if “Spawn” is pulling at its leash. ‘PROTO’ is operatic but highly tenuous – Herndon stages a radical, tender kind of post-humanism, but she leaves room for the drama of its arrival.
The album is full of anticipation. At times it’s ugly and overblown. But it’s a collective vision, one that reflects back on our own inputs into the dataset as well as at our folk stories of survival and resistance. - Josh Gabert-Doyon
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Rosie Lowe - 'YU' // REVIEW
A confident and wonderfully coherent mingling of genres with an impressive roster of collaborators – see Jamie Woon, Jamie Jidell, Jay Electronica – it feels like a huge statement from a relatively new female artist in what’s sometimes a male dominated arena.
‘YU’ is a swagger drenched, masterful treatise from a woman with a new perspective, new weapons, and the confidence to use them. Careful now. - Sarah Gosling
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Big Thief - 'U.F.O.F.' // REVIEW
‘U.F.O.F.’ sees the wonderfully prolific Lenker take centre-stage again following a quadruple hit of albums (both Big Thief and solo) over as many years. Recorded in rural western Washington at Bear Creek Studios, this sense of pastoral openness is apparent on the album’s overall aesthetic as the simplicity of nature starts to clash with the otherworldly. A series of meditative thoughts over a dream-laden, hazy night in the prairies. - Rory Marcham
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What was your favourite album from May 2019? Join in the debate over on Twitter.
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