The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in May

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The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in May

May is packed with more show-stopping album releases than any month of the year so far. We can finally wrap our ears around highly-anticipated albums from The National, Vampire Weekend, Carly Rae Jepsen and Big Thief, plus exciting debut albums from Empath and ALASKALASKA and promising sophomore LPs from Charly Bliss, Kedr Livanskiy and Bedouine. Check out 10 of the albums we’re most excited to hear in May, listed by release date below and as chosen by the Paste Music Staff.

May 3

Big Thief: U.F.O.F.

New York indie-folk outfit Big Thief have been touring constantly for four years in conjunction with their first two full-lengths—2016’s Masterpiece and 2017’s Capacity—and their third album U.F.O.F. was largely informed by their relentless touring schedule and the band’s heightened personal and musical synergy. So far we’ve heard three selections from it—the title track, “Cattails” and “Century.” According to a press release, some of the songs were recorded just hours after they were written, while others were “perfected moments of dynamic feedback and spiritual, rhythmic togetherness.” The LP also includes new versions of “From” and “Terminal Paradise,” both originally written and recorded for Big Thief vocalist Adrianne Lenker’s 2018 solo album abysskiss. —Lizzie Manno

Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride

It’s been six long years since Vampire Weekend released their last album. Since then, each band member has released some sort of solo project, the lineup has undergone a few changes—production mastermind and keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij left the group in 2016— and the album itself has seen loads of delays and revised release dates (and new album titles). But here we are, just a few days from the album we’ve long been waiting for…and it sounds quite a bit different than we would have expected prior to Jan. 24 when we heard the first two album cuts from Father of the Bridge, “Harmony Hall” and “2024.” Gone are the introspective and world-weariness of Modern Vampires of the City and the swelling strings of Contra. Father of the Bride is here to soundtrack your summer parties and BBQs, complete with spritely Grateful Dead-influenced guitar solos and a breeziness unseen since 2008’s self-titled debut. Poppier with more complex guitarwork than anything we’ve heard previously from Ezra Koenig & co, Father of the Bride arrives just in time for summer, armed with sunny jams like “This Life” and “Sunflower” that are aimed more towards top down convertible road trips rather than a close reading of the lyric page. —Steven Edelstone

Empath: Active Listening: Night On Earth

Philadelphia four-piece Empath aren’t your everyday noise-pop band. They masterfully and curiously juggle bubblegum pop sweetness, ear-splitting noise guitar tornadoes, off-kilter synths and ambient nature sound effects. Last year’s cassette EP Liberating Guilt and Fear made Paste’s list of the 10 Best EPs of 2018. They intentionally overwhelm with discordant noise-punk rumbling and charm with tuneful pop melodies. You can hear three songs from their highly-anticipated debut album Active Listening: Night on Earth right now, each of them mystifying weirdo symphonies that defy all previously existing musical states of matter—”Soft Shape,” “Hanging Out of Cars” and “Roses That Cry.” —Lizzie Manno

Kedr Livanskiy: Your Need

Avant-garde Russian electronic producer Kedr Livanskiy makes music that’s as ready for the the poolside or backyard chill out as it is for the club. Her enchanting vocals in Russian are a spirit guide alongside production evoking shades of DJ Koze’s existentialism and Ladytron’s bounce, navigating everything from afternoon house (“Shy Kisses”) and dub (“Lugovoy”), to Ibiza breakbeats (“Ivan Kupala (New Day)”). This is one of the most intriguing dance music producers we’ve heard in a while, and Your Need (out May 31 on 2MR) looks to be building on the equally bright, stunning vibes of her previous record, Ariadna. —Adrian Spinelli


British art-pop group ALASKALASKA are on a roll. Following their 2017 self-titled EP and 2018 singles “Meateater” and “Monster,” the South London sophisti-pop outfit are ready to unleash their debut full-length The Dots with firm footing. Their horn-laden, ever-morphing pop skyscapes and dancefloor fillers are always catchy, but never in a predictable sense. Led by principal songwriter Lucinda Duarte-Holman and bassist and producer Fraser Rieley, ALASKALASKA are willing to experiment with any groove or sonic texture that will further cultivate their heady, intoxicating art-pop. —Lizzie Manno

More notable May 3 releases: Barrie: Happy To Be Here, Versing: 10000, Rhiannon Giddens: there is no Other, Caroline Spence: Mint Condition, Truth Club: Not an Exit, FURY: Failed Entertainment, Editors: The Blanck Mass Sessions

May 10

Charly Bliss: Young Enough

Still riding the critical success of their 2017 debut album Guppy, Charly Bliss are poised to debut one of the most anticipated releases of the year with Young Enough. After teasing new music back in February, the Brooklyn band dropped one of the year’s catchiest singles. Then they did it again. And again. They showed off some of their pop chops on Guppy, but Young Enough appears to be full of pure, sugar-charged hits. Their second album on Barsuk Records, Young Enough could very well be one of the best rock efforts of the year. Until we know for sure, spin “Capacity” on repeat. —Ellen Johnson

More notable May 10 releases: Mavis Staples: We Get By, Boogarins: Sombrou Dúvida, Dehd: Water, Jackie Cohen: Zagg, Jamila Woods: LEGACY! LEGACY!, Matt Kivel: last night in america

May 17

The National: I Am Easy to Find

When I caught Matt Berninger and co. for one of their handful of “A Special Night with The National” shows last week, they premiered a short film, making a point to mention that the new album—which they played in full—wouldn’t have happened without the Alicia Vikander-starring movie, noting that half the record was written in response to it. Upon listening to the eventual release, I Am Easy to Find, it makes total sense; the long-running Brooklyn band has made their most “cinematic-sounding” record, complete with swelling strings, gorgeous slow-building soundscapes, a choir, and a distinct female-led narrative. Adding guest vocals from Sharon Van Etten, This is The Kit’s Kate Stables, Lisa Hannigan and more, I Am Easy to Find may well be The National’s most well-rounded record, one with a wide range of sounds and Berninger’s most introspective and profound lyrics to date. Of note, “Not in Kansas,” a slow, bumbling track that sees Matt Berninger launch into a lengthy stream of consciousness, may be his group’s best song yet, a masterpiece on a record chock full of them. —Steven Edelstone

Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated

“Call Me Maybe” is the stuff of pop prestige. Few radio blockbusters from the past decade sound off with such lasting, crush-worthy kitsch. The song and its maker, Carly Rae Jepsen, are tied together forever, but Ms. Jepsen has always been more than that enslaving earworm from summer 2012. She herself is pop royalty, and when she began teasing her follow-up to 2015’s outstanding Emotion with two empowered new singles (following the already superb self-love banger, “Party for One”), the pop fans among us at Paste whipped out our dancing shoes. Whatever synthy, exhilarating, heartbreaking magic our Canadian queen has planned for her fourth full-length, bring it on. Our hearts are yours, Carly Rae. —Ellen Johnson

More notable May 17 releases: Interpol: A Fine Mess EP, Institute: Readjusting the Locks, Rich Aucoin: Release, The Head & the Heart: Living Mirage, Lucette: Deluxe Hotel Room

May 24

Faye Webster: Atlanta Millionaires Club

Secretly Canadian freshman Faye Webster is one-of-a-kind. The 21-year-old Atlanta native and Braves fanatic has bounced from one of the city’s rap collectives (PSA) to another (Awful Records). Thanks to years spent deep in ATL’s hip hop scene and polishing her own folk/country sensibilities, Faye Webster’s music is truly a singular, dreamy blend of R&B, rap and roots, garnished with a little pop for flavor. “Kingston,” the first single from Atlanta Millionaires Club and her first slice of new music since a 2017 self-titled LP, is a lush, twinkly treat, while “Flowers,” a collaboration featuring rapper Father and an impeccable flow, is a relaxed brush with romantic anxiety. Webster stretches herself across many sounds and places, and it pays off. Atlanta Millionaires Club will take her far beyond her ATL roots. —Ellen Johnson

More notable May 24 releases: Cate Le Bon: Reward, Amyl and the Sniffers: Amyl and the Sniffers, Hayden Thorpe: Diviner, Honeyblood: In Plain Sight, Sebadoh: Act Surprised

May 31

Bedouine: Bird Songs Of A Killjoy

There was a moment this past March at Bedouine’s Paste SXSW Live Session at our outdoor Riverview Dr. studio, when the Austin birds decided to chirp along with Az Korkejian’s exquisite tunes. It was as if the birds had been contracted by Spacebomb Records (who will be releasing Bedouine’s second album, aptly titled Bird Songs Of A Killjoy, on May 31) to act as Korkejian’s backing band for this affair. The LA-based singer songwriter’s sophomore release comes on the heels of her impressive self-titled debut, one of our Best Albums of 2017. And on the strength of beautiful singles like “When You’re Gone” and “Bird,” the birds are sure to follow Bedouine’s bucolic folk wherever she goes. —Adrian Spinelli

More notable May 31 releases: The Gotobeds: Debt Begins at 30, Rose Hotel: I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes, Pip Blom: Boat, *repeat repeat: Glazed, Sinkake: Dépaysé, Doug Tuttle: Dream Road, Sacred Paws: Run Around The Sun