Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Sharon Jones (Photo: Josh Brasted/WireImage/Getty Images), Björk (Photo: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images), and Taylor Swift (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for DirecTV). Graphic: Libby McGuire.

The 16 most-anticipated albums of November

Sharon Jones (Photo: Josh Brasted/WireImage/Getty Images), Björk (Photo: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images), and Taylor Swift (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for DirecTV). Graphic: Libby McGuire.

As 2017 winds to a close, after a year that’s seen the release of thousands of albums—an unusually large number of which are quite good!—it seems almost unthinkable that November would still have more to give. But with new records from the likes of Björk, Angel Olsen, Shamir, Sharon Jones, and more still in the offing, November is just as packed with end-of-year contenders as any. Here are the 16 that we’re looking forward to the most.

November 3

Bibio, Phantom Brickworks

You’ve probably heard Stephen Wilkinson, a.k.a. Bibio, without even realizing it: His pleasantly blurry electronic music has lent its soothing atmospheres to ads by Amazon and L.L. Bean among others, as well as the score for Jason Reitman’s Men Women And Children. But its use as aural wallpaper belies how artistically diverse he can be from album to album—from woozy drones to glitchy funk to even British folk—or how emotionally immersive it is, even when it’s not selling you on flannel shirts or Sad Adam Sandler. On this last count, Phantom Brickworks, Wilkinson’s sixth for Warp, is no exception. It’s a collection of instrumental, calmative mood pieces structured primarily around minimalist piano, eerily evoking some fading, ghostly ballroom. (Fans of Leyland Kirby’s music as The Caretaker should find similarly ethereal pleasures here.) While it’s not Wilkinson’s most daring, it is arguably his most wholly satisfying, inviting repeated returns to its lost and flickering world. [Sean O’Neal]

Converge, The Dusk In Us

There’s never been an easy way to describe Converge’s sound, which pulls from hardcore, noise, metal, and punk, thus relegating it to the thoroughly unfulfilling label of “aggressive music.” It’s accurate, to be sure, as made abundantly clear by the band’s eight full-lengths, the most recent of which is 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind. Expect the upcoming The Dusk In Us to find Converge as uncompromising as ever, spurred on by what frontman Jacob Bannon has described as “the complex world in which we live.” That’s one way to put it. [Kyle Ryan]

Rabit, Les Fleurs Du Mal

On 2015’s Communion, electronic producer Eric Burton—a.k.a. Rabit—solidified a jarring musical language, one built on industrial hiss, U.K. grime, and the sort of militant gun-cock samples you might hear in the hip-hop scene of Burton’s native Houston. It was an arresting, if often uncomfortable listen, and its eagerness to leave you gut-punched and splayed out across broken glass made Communion one of the more unusual entries in a genre that’s primarily built on intriguing textures and intoxicating grooves. Burton has called his new Les Fleurs Du Mal his “purest statement yet,” portending something that cuts even deeper—though you’d be hard-pressed to tell from first taste “Bleached World,” which consists almost solely of a windswept, gently shimmering synth line. Still, Burton’s fanaticism for noise-folk-drone predecessors Coil, whose Drew McDowall pitches in here, means you can count on that sort of dissonant dread to creep in eventually, and that you can never expect him to stick to just one kind of sound. Les Fleurs also promises to bring in stabbing strings, female vocals, and even more pitching and yawing rhythms, and it’s guaranteed to sound like nothing else this year. [Sean O’Neal]

Shamir, Revelations

In 2015, the electrifying Ratchet introduced Shamir as a wholly unique voice with a knack for crafting buoyant dance-pop. He was a star right out of the gate, but the newfound attention and pressures of the industry proved challenging. After parting with his label, Shamir self-released Hope this April, a pivot to a stripped-down sound that earnestly addresses his struggles with his mental health. Seven months later, Shamir returns with Revelations, an LP written in the wake of a diagnosis with bipolar disorder. As evidenced by charming lead single “90’s Kids,” the album follows in Hope’s lo-fi footsteps, tackling anxieties with optimism and a magnetic wit. [Cameron Scheetz]

Sam Smith, The Thrill Of It All

Sam Smith’s sophomore album, The Thrill Of It All, was made with much of the same team behind his 2014 Grammy-winning debut, In The Lonely Hour, adding only a few new co-writers and a production cameo by Timbaland. So it follows that both singles so far—“Pray” and “Too Good At Goodbyes”—fit into Smith’s established formula: spare, emotional piano songs that build to choir-driven crescendos. The Thrill Of It All may not be a huge departure for the blue-eyed balladeer, but it’s sure to put his considerable vocal chops front and center, and to dominate the pop charts through winter. [Kelsey J. Waite]

November 10

Angel Olsen, Phases

An A.V. Club favorite since the release of her breakout 2014 album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Angel Olsen returns after last year’s lush, meandering My Woman with Phases, a collection of B-sides and rarities recorded over the last several years. From spare, intimate demos (a cover of Roky Erickson’s “For You”) to moody slow-burners (“Special”), the tracks compiled here further demonstrate Olsen’s wide range (and wide range of influences). While four of the tracks already appeared on the deluxe version of Burn Your Fire, Olsen completists will still want to get their hands on this one. [Laura Adamczyk]

Quicksand, Interiors

New York post-hardcore band Quicksand released two scene-making albums before imploding—1993’s Slip and 1995’s Manic Compression—but the reunion bug didn’t wait long to bite. In 1998, the band recorded demos for what was to become its third album; unfortunately, old tensions flared up, and the album was never completed. Even now, for its first album in 22 years, it seems Quicksand can’t escape drama, as guitarist Tom Capone was arrested for shoplifting while on tour earlier this year. But never mind all that. Interiors is a new Quicksand album, which qualifies as a minor miracle. Topping two classic albums after 20 years is an impossible task, but Interiors invites repeat listens, and it qualifies as a solid addition to the band’s small but powerful discography. [Kyle Ryan]

Sleigh Bells, Kid Kruschev

Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller have swirled honeyed pop melodies into shredding, thumping instrumentals across four LPs—the most recent of which, Jessica Rabbit, was released less than a year ago. But that album also took the typically fleet-footed duo several years to complete, while arguably taking their aesthetic to its furthest possible conclusion. If a change is in order, then the duo is wasting no time, putting that old efficiency to new ends with Kid Kruschev, whose seven songs are the first of an experiment in “putting out shorter records at a more consistent rate,” according to Miller. Previews of Kid Kruschev showcase the softer, more contemplative side of Sleigh Bells that’s been cropping up as far back as Treats’ “Run The Heart.” “And Saints” reaches for the rafters but puts plenty of space around Krauss’ pleading vocals, while “Rainmaker” is a trunk-rattler for cars that have had Pure Moods stuck in the CD changer for 20 years. [Erik Adams]

Taylor Swift, Reputation

By the time it comes out, you will surely have already been bombarded with information about Taylor Swift’s follow-up to the world-smashing 1989. But let’s ignore the machine—the branded UPS trucks, the perfectly timed makeup or breakup stories—and focus on the songs. If they’re half as good as the ones on 1989, she’ll be the talk of music lovers and gossip writers once again. (Even if they’re not, she will be.) [Josh Modell]

November 17

Baths, Romaplasm

Baths’ 2010 debut Cerulean was an electronic-pop masterpiece of exquisite, day-lit joy; its follow-up, 2013’s Obsidian, was a stark meditation on death, loneliness, and failure, though writ in the same immaculate digital language. The new Romaplasm draws inspiration from Baths’ love of anime, video games, and otaku culture, with two singles (“Yeoman” and “Out”) that evoke the crystal palaces, eccentric evil, and aesthetic exuberance of Akihabara. The tracks sound just as dense and tuneful as anything on their predecessors, which is a good sign that the intervening years were well-spent. [Clayton Purdom]

Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rest

With Rest, actor Charlotte Gainsbourg picks up her infrequent yet consistent music career right where she left it on the Beck-penned IRM eight years ago. Her fifth album feels more akin to 2006’s 5:55 in its wide range of collaborators, welcoming everyone from Paul McCartney to Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo, while returning the singer’s own eclectic vision to center stage. Gainsbourg’s ethereal whispers paired with her collaborators’ varied sensibilities always make for some interesting genre hybrids—like the muted disco-chanson of Rest’s title track (co-written with De Homem-Christo) or the driving electro-pop of the SebastiAn-produced “Deadly Valentine.” Look out for Dev Hynes, a.k.a. Blood Orange, in the latter’s charming video. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Soul Of A Woman

The music world lost one of its most vibrant, versatile voices when Sharon Jones died last year after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. During her final months, the soul-revival stalwart found time to get into the studio with her longtime backing band, The Dap-Kings, and record their final album, which is being posthumously released this month. Daptone, Jones’ record label, describes it as “a lush, orchestral masterpiece” that’s evenly split between the uptempo numbers the band is known for—like its lead single “Matter Of Time”—and moodier string-heavy ballads. [Matt Gerardi]

Morrissey, Low In High School

Morrissey hasn’t made a truly vital solo album in ages, and the time off between his last run of solid albums (call it 2004 to 2009) didn’t help things, as 2014’s World Peace Is None Of Your Business was his weakest since 1997’s Maladjusted. But let’s give the former Smiths frontman and king of the witty barb the benefit of the doubt: The recent single “Spent The Day In Bed” is okay! His outspoken politics, though, make me worry about the final track on this one, which is called “Israel.” It’s bound to piss somebody off. [Josh Modell]

OCS, Memory Of A Cut Off Head

Back when nobody knew who Thee Oh Sees were, the band was just called OCS. Following the name change to merely Oh Sees for this summer’s Orc, the group has now returned to its original moniker. But much more striking is the change in sound: Rather than the band’s usual all-out garage rock assault—or even the expansive explorations of Orc—the new record looks to quiet things down, just like the old days. Memory Of A Cut Off Head takes the band back to its earliest sounds, with gentle Americana the dominant style. Just how firmly frontman John Dwyer and his bandmates will stick to it is anybody’s guess. [Alex McLevy]

Mavis Staples, If All I Was Was Black

Living legend Mavis Staples reteams with Jeff Tweedy for the third time on If All I Was Was Black, with the Wilco frontman collaborating with Staples—for the first time—on an entire album of original songs. The record continues her timeless tradition of soulful Americana, but it speaks directly to the moment, with songs like “We Go High” and “Build A Bridge” using the rhetoric of today’s fractured political debates to deliver an uplifting message of compassion. But no matter what she’s singing about, let’s put it plainly: It’s Mavis Staples, and it’s worth hearing. [Alex McLevy]

November 24

Björk, Utopia

For all her abstractions, masks (metaphorical and literal), and surreal sense of scale that can make approaching them as intimidating as some fog-shrouded Icelandic glacier, Björk’s albums operate surprisingly directly, engendering an innate emotional response, even when she’s singing in dream-logic curlicues about bird girls and blood fountains. This was especially true on 2015’s Vulnicuraan often surprisingly candid record inspired by her divorce from filmmaker Matthew Barney—and it promises to be so again with her upcoming ninth album, Utopia. Co-produced with Arca, and pitched as the flipside “paradise” to what Björk has described as Vulnicura’s “hell,” Utopia has also been characterized as an expression of renewed hope and joy in a world beset by political strife—and in Björk’s own, personal world of recovering from a bad breakup. Lead single “The Gate” bears this out, with Björk singing over flutters of digitally spliced strings and woodwinds about her “healed chest wound / Transformed into a gate / Where I receive love from.” It’s luminously gorgeous work, and Utopia promises to be an equally lovely place to linger. [Sean O’Neal]