Taylor Swift, Look What You Made Me Do (video) — Dear Taylor, as fresh as the minimalist beats may sound, please don’t let your Reputation album follow the Katy Perry route of vindictiveness and self-conscious reinvention. This can’t end well.
Liars, TFCF (Mute Records) — New York’s Liars never cease to surprise with their stylistic shifts in electronica and acoustic rock. But their eighth studio album TFCF (which stands for “Theme from Crying Fountain”) is really a solo effort by Angus Andrew, singer and only remaining original Liars member. The compositions are often minimal, even flamenco at times, but the weirdness is always set to high.
Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins (RCA) — The bicoastal Grizzly Bear specialize in beautiful abstract washes that occasionally lean to ethereal, even gauzy sounds. The new release opts for a clearer precision driven by tenor vocals resembling Fleet Foxes or Talking Heads, yet the lyrics remain mysteriously vague.
Iron & Wine, Beast Epic (Sub Pop) — Despite the expansive title, North Carolina’s Sam Beam returns here to the simplicity of his earliest works, offering 11 stark and unadorned folk tracks like “Bitter Truth,” as powerful as anything he’s ever recorded.
Rainer Maria, S/T, (Polyvinyl) — Poet/vocalist Caithlin De Marrais is back with the first Rainer Maria album since 2006. The Brooklyn trio opts for slower and fuzzier guitars compared to the band’s late-‘90s heyday, but De Marrais wrenches an abundance of angst from these nine complex and tense tracks.