Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Lana Del Rey (Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images), Solange (Photo: Sandra Dahdah/Getty Images for SXSW), and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala (Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The 20 most anticipated albums of 2019

Lana Del Rey (Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images), Solange (Photo: Sandra Dahdah/Getty Images for SXSW), and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala (Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Graphic: Karl Kustafson

2018 may be receding in the rearview, but some of last year’s most anticipated music releases are riding shotgun into this one: My Bloody Valentine, Vampire Weekend, Sky Ferreira, Solange. Because we’ve covered our excitement for these before—sometimes multiple times—we’ve left some of them off the list below to make room for newer entries. Indie and rock make a strong early showing in 2019, with confirmed albums from Deerhunter, American Football, and Sharon Van Etten on the way, plus imminent new records from Lana Del Rey, Tame Impala, and Priests. And as for speculation, we’re looking at Isaiah Rashad, Schoolboy Q, and maybe—just maybe?—Angel Olsen. These and more make up The A.V. Club’s 20 most anticipated albums of 2019.

American Football, American Football (LP3) (March 22)

It’s been a productive five years for the emo legends in American Football. After reuniting in 2014, the band that never played more than a handful of shows before its dissolution in 2000 toured the world and managed to carve out time to write a second album. American Football (LP2), released in 2016, showed the four-piece figuring out what it was like for American Football to be more than a casual college project. But the announcement of its third self-titled effort is proof that the band is stepping outside of emo’s parameters and exploring how far it can go in the present. “Silhouettes” serves as an exciting example of what’s to come, and with a heap of guest vocalists announced, such as Hayley Williams of Paramore, Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, and Elizabeth Powell of Land Of Talk, it’s clear American Football has plenty of ground still left to cover. [David Anthony]

Beirut, Gallipoli (Feb. 1)

The title of Beirut’s fifth album, Gallipoli, comes from the name of the Italian town where frontman Zach Condon recorded its last song. As he tells it, one night he and his collaborators “followed a brass band procession fronted by priests carrying a statue of the town’s saint through the winding narrow streets,” and the next day he wrote the song in its entirety. It’s an especially auspicious, Beirut-y backstory, and indeed the song will sound familiar to fans of the group’s early work, conjuring Old World celebration and mourning with noble trumpets, tinkling Farfisa, and crooning vocals. [Laura Adamczyk]

James Blake, Assume Form (Jan. 25)

Even before an album titled Assume Form quietly showed up on Amazon France last week, it was evident the New Year would bring new material from James Blake. In addition to releasing two new songs last year, the Brit electronic/R&B producer recently announced a big tour with “one CD of an upcoming James Blake project” included in the ticket price. In the last two years, Blake’s been a part of some of hip-hop’s biggest records, by Kendrick Lamar, JAY-Z, and Travis Scott, but Assume Form will be his first solo full-length since 2016’s The Colour In Anything. And the leaked track list is a promising one, featuring collaborations with André 3000, Rosalía, Travis Scott, and more. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Deerhunter, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (Jan. 18)

On their eighth LP as Deerhunter, frontman Bradford Cox and company shed old modes of production and instrumentation—experimenting with mic and keyboard approaches, forgoing the warmth of amps by plugging guitars straight into the board—to craft a “sci-fi album about the present.” The songs of Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? resist easy classification or consumption, feeling simultaneously familiar and unsettling. Within the inviting psych-pop vibes of “Element,” for example, lies what Cox calls “an elegy for ecology (a landscape done in toxic watercolors).” [Kelsey J. Waite]

Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell (TBD)

We’ve heard a lot from Norman Fucking Rockwell over the last year: September singles “Venice Bitch” and “Mariners Apartment Complex,” plus live clips and Instagram teasers of “Sylvia Plath,” “How To Disappear,” “I Must Be Stupid For Feeling So Happy,” and “Hey Baby Blue.” And another track is likely to drop any day now. So far the songs are thoroughly, undeniably the work of Lana Del Rey, all romance and melancholia, but this time taking inspiration from Laurel Canyon. The presence of pop producer Jack Antonoff suggests Del Rey’s sixth LP could have the tight editing that 2017’s Lust For Life lacked. Release is vaguely slated for “early 2019,” but now that Del Rey’s finished her poetry collection, Norman could arrive at any moment. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Grimes, TBD

Grimes is one of our grand pop weirdos, turning her indoor-kid J-pop fantasias into itchy glitch pop and sparkling ’90s mall rock. Somehow, she has parlayed that into bona fide celebrity, popping up to tease snippets of new tracks in a high-profile Apple commercial and notably becoming involved with a certain Rick And Morty-quoting techno-utopian auto magnate. But the music remains singular and enigmatic. A pair of new records—one “light,” the other “pure darkness and chaos,” according to Grimes—have been teased for later this year but apparently held up by drama with her label. The pro-authoritarianism rocktronica jingle “We Appreciate Power” will have to tide us over in the meantime. [Clayton Purdom]

Karen O & Danger Mouse, Lux Prima (TBD)

Not much is known about the upcoming collaboration between Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O and eclectic producer Danger Mouse, other than the two artists’ ambiguous statements about creating from “a blurry place… we were excited to go far out.” If lead single “Lux Prima” is any indication, the partnership has resulted in some lush and entrancing music, some of the best either has made in years, Danger Mouse operating in Ennio Morricone mode, and O delivering smooth and sultry melodies over the languid beats. [Alex Mclevy]

Ladytron, Ladytron (Feb. 15)

It’s been nearly eight years since the release of Gravity The Seducer, the last LP from electro-pop avatars Ladytron, but the band sounds eager to revitalize its output. Member Daniel Hunt has said the forthcoming eponymous record will be “a lot heavier” than the more laid-back sounds of Gravity, with a newfound urgency to the group’s signature icy electronic thump. Still, don’t expect too radical a shift—there will be harmonies, hooks, and swirling synths aplenty. [Alex McLevy]

Jenny Lewis, On The Line (Spring)

Jenny Lewis’ first solo LP since 2014’s The Voyager boasts the most impressive guest list of her career: not only returning pals Ryan Adams and Beck, but also legendary producer Don Was and a goddamn Beatle. You’ll have to wait until the spring to hear what Lewis and Ringo Starr came up with in the studio, but there’s a good deal of On The Line floating around thanks to the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman’s recent live dates, many of which kicked off with the sorrowful piano ballad “Heads Gonna Roll.” [Erik Adams]

Angel Olsen, TBD

Angel Olsen’s most recent LP of new music, 2016’s masterful My Woman, saw her come fully into her own, stretching out her songs of heartache and contemplation into synth-y daydreams, long West Coast walks, and ’60s pop-inflected missives. There have been no official acknowledgments of Olsen’s fourth full-length, but given the pace of releases from the Asheville-based singer-songwriter, and the fact that she’s been playing new material out on the road, the chances for a new album are good. We’re eager to listen—with each project, Olsen deepens and complicates her sound, while remaining unmistakably herself. [Laura Adamczyk]

Priests, TBD

Priests’ ferocious full-length debut, Nothing Feels Natural, was one of our favorite records of 2017, a “dazzling document,” as our own Matt Gerardi put it then, of modern anxieties and a graduation of the D.C. quartet’s eclectic post-punk sound. So we’re excited to see Sister Polygon Records and the band hinting via cheeky tweets that news of its follow-up is on the way this week. Expect more smart, cathartic music for tough times, but also leave room for Priests to subvert those expectations. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Isaiah Rashad, TBD

Isaiah Rashad is the sleepy-eyed Southern-rap soul bearer on Kendrick Lamar’s TDE roster, but despite his unassuming presence, he’s a master of quality control. His first record—so unofficial that it has the word “demo” in the title—had more polish than most emcees ever muster across a full-length, and his sprawling second LP is nothing short of a modern classic. TDE’s known for fiddling with release dates, and Rashad’s known to disappear for long stretches at a time, but TDE label head Anthony Tiffith has said a few new records from the label are ready to roll. Here’s hoping for one from Rashad. [Clayton Purdom]

Schoolboy Q, TBD

Schoolboy Q’s been talking about a new record essentially constantly since releasing 2016’s hallucinatory and harder-than-hell Blank Face LP. He first promised a successor in 2017, then claimed an album was “90-95%” complete last year before announcing its delay in the wake of Mac Miller’s death. He’s claimed as many as 50 songs and four albums are in the bank, so whenever he feels ready, expect a flood. [Clayton Purdom]

Solange, TBD

Solange has presided over two tectonic shifts in R&B, first via the smoky, neo-noir funk of 2012’s True, and then, in 2016, with the stately, neo-neo-soul statement of purpose A Seat At The Table. Still, she generally takes four years or more between projects, so the news of a new record, described as “imminent” in an October New York Times profile, feels spurred by some urgency. Details are light beyond this extremely choice quote: “There is a lot of jazz at the core. But with electronic and hip-hop drum and bass because I want it to bang and make your trunk rattle.” It’ll appear magically and unexpectedly, and, if history holds true, it’ll be very good. [Clayton Purdom]

Bruce Springsteen, TBD

Technically Springsteen did release an album in 2018 with a straight recording of Springsteen On Broadway, complete with audience applause and all. But he’s been hinting at a different, new solo album for years now, since before he went on the River Tour in 2016. When asked in a Variety interview if that album was still coming, Springsteen answered in the affirmative, saying, “I’ve just been caught up in other projects. It’s kind of waiting for its moment.” Perhaps 2019 is that moment. Then again, perhaps not. Although he told the U.K.’s Sunday Times he’d be releasing an album and embarking on a tour with the E Street Band in 2019, the band members expressed skepticism on Twitter. Steve Van Zandt thinks Springsteen meant 2020. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Swervedriver, Future Ruins (Jan. 25)

After the 2015 release of I Wasn’t Born To Lose You proved that Swervedriver still retained the capacity to deliver thunderous slices of fuzzed-out, road-trip shoegaze rock, the band returned to touring, and is now back with a new set of songs leveled straight at the bleakest of timelines: our present situation. Future Ruins continues to mine the band’s distinctive vein of “space travel rock ’n’ roll,” even as it gets darker, spacier, and more consumed with 21st-century anxiety. [Alex McLevy]

Tame Impala, TBD

When Tame Impala confirmed its headlining set at Coachella last week via Instagram, the Aussie psych outfit also announced the year would bring “new sounds,” and we’re hoping that means the full-length follow-up to 2015’s Currents that frontman Kevin Parker teased on Beats 1 last summer. Parker’s been extremely busy since Currents, working with Rihanna, Kanye West, Kali Uchis, and Travis Scott, so the exact direction or release date of the new sounds is anyone’s guess. But they’re sure to be worth hearing and waiting for. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Toro Y Moi, Outer Peace (Jan. 18)

Chaz Bear is thinking about technology on his sixth full-length as Toro Y Moi—specifically how it dominates and distracts us in our daily lives. So he’s offering up a kind of respite on Outer Peace, a place to find tranquility “in antithetical conditions: being stuck in traffic, hustling for your next check…” These songs have a strong pop bent, calling up Bear’s funk/dance roots and showcasing his ease and vision as a producer by pairing experimental sounds with familiar samples. Singles “Ordinary Pleasure” and “Freelance” suggest Outer Peace could be an early bright spot for music in 2019. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow (Jan. 18)

On her fifth official studio album, Sharon Van Etten trades in stripped-down guitar for a visit to what she calls “reverb universe,” favoring scuzzy synths, organ, and drum machines. Van Etten’s dark, pretty harmonies are paired with instrumentation that swells to the point of overflowing, the mark of producer John Congleton. Dance beats and percussive punctuations on “Comeback Kid” recall recent Arcade Fire, while “Seventeen” is unabashed Tunnel Of Love-era Springsteen. Van Etten wrote Remind Me Tomorrow in between stints appearing on The OA and (very briefly) Twin Peaks: The Return, and composing television and film scores, and the album could easily accompany on-screen emotional climaxes. [Laura Adamczyk]

Thom Yorke, TBD

Thom Yorke is bored with computers. What that means for his untitled, upcoming third solo album is unclear—we’re not even sure when it’ll be out at this point—but Yorke says the album, which he’s currently “trying to finish” with longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, is deconstructionist in nature, following the unusual procedure of recording songs in a studio, breaking them down, rebuilding them with a live mix, and then re-recording that. It’s still “very electronic,” he says, adding that although he didn’t originally intend to make an album about Brexit, “Everything I do goes that way anyways.” You can take the man out of Radiohead, but you can’t take the Radiohead out of the man. [Katie Rife]