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Rewinding 2019 | The Poppermost Toppermost

The best and the rest of the year's pop offerings.

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Women generally rule the pop scene. But this year, they didn’t just dominate the charts and airwaves — they also produced some of the most exciting new sounds of 2019. Here are the ones that got my attention:


TINNITIST’S PICKS

Billie Eilish
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Teenage girls are scary at the best of times. But Billie Eilish takes it to a whole new level. Just take a gander at the cover pic of the 17-year-old L.A. pop phenom’s debut album: Decked out in institutional white T-shirt and sweats, she’s perched on the edge of a bed, grinning maniacally and leering through pupil-less eyes like something out of a Japanese horror movie. It’s enough to give you the creeps. And to her credit, the rest of When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is just as nightmarish and weird. Co-written and produced with her brother Finneas O’Connell — and reportedly inspired by her own twisted dreams and night terrors — this demented 14-song groundbreaker eschews the usual lowest-common-denominator dance-pop fluff for idiosyncratic, introspective and intriguingly inventive songcraft and sonics.

READ THE FULL REVIEW AND HEAR THE ALBUM HERE


Lana Del Rey
Norman Fucking Rockwell!

WHO IS SHE? Good question: Although she’s been a major-label pop star and celebrity for nearly a decade, dark-hearted balladeer Lana Del Rey remains something of a cipher — which proves she’s either deeper or shallower than she’s letting on, depending on how you feel about her.

WHAT IS THIS? Her sixth studio release and first collaboration with singer-songwriter-turned-superstar producer Jack Antonoff, who had a helluva month in August: He also co-wrote and co-produced Taylor Swift’s Lover and released the debut disc from his latest band Red Hearse.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? To her credit, something of a departure and/or evolution that downplays the trip-hoppy noir and hazy pop-rock of previous albums in favour of smouldering piano-based ballads set in Southern California, swirled with psychedelic textures and delivered with more confidence than previous outings.

READ THE FULL REVIEW AND HEAR THE ALBUM HERE


Jenny Lewis
On the Line

Jenny Lewis is in good company. For her fourth solo album On The Line, the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman is backed by a VIP roster of talent that includes Beck, Ryan Adams, Ringo Starr, Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Don Was and session drummer extraordinaire Jim Keltner. Admittedly, those who still romantically view Lewis as an idiosyncratic and occasionally ironic indie darling might see all those high-wattage heavyweights as an odd fit. Truth is, they’re a perfect match. Partly because of Lewis’s actual professional stature and station — the former child actor has been doing pretty well at this music thing for more than two decades now, after all. But mostly, it makes sense because On The Line is the closest Lewis has come to making a bona fide classic pop-rock album. While the sounds of the ’70s have often factored into her music, these 11 songs find her comfortably making herself at home in the songwriting terrain of predecessors like Carole King (whose vintage Tapestry-era piano is played on several cuts) and Fleetwood Mac.

READ THE FULL REVIEW AND HEAR THE ALBUM HERE


HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Sara Bareilles | Amidst The Chaos
The Bird & The Bee | Interpreting The Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen
James Blake | Assume Form
Sheryl Crow | Threads
Miley Cyrus | She is Coming
Fitz & The Tantrums | All The Feels
FKA Twigs | Magdalene
Lizzo | Cuz I Love You
LSD | LSD
Madonna | Madame X
Post Malone | Hollywood’s Bleeding
Sarah Potenza | Road to Rome
Solange | When I Get Home
Taylor Swift | Lover
Charli XCX | Charli

TO FIND REVIEWS OF THESE ALBUMS, PLEASE USE THE SEARCH WINDOW AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE