With so much good music being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to listen to first. Every week, Pitchfork offers a run-down of significant new releases available on streaming services. This week’s batch includes new albums from Olivia Rodrigo, Sparklehorse, Romy, James Blake, Anjimile, Irreversible Entanglements, Buju Banton, Laufey, Gaika, and Speaker Music. Subscribe to Pitchfork’s New Music Friday newsletter to get our recommendations in your inbox every week. (All releases featured here are independently selected by our editors. When you buy something through our affiliate links, however, Pitchfork earns an affiliate commission.)
Olivia Rodrigo: Guts [Geffen]
Olivia Rodrigo teased her sophomore LP, Guts, with “Vampire,” a rallying operetta about a bloodsucking “fame fucker” that some fans believed to address Taylor Swift. “I was very surprised when people thought that,” Rodrigo told The Guardian. “I never want to say who any of my songs are about.” Rodrigo followed “Vampire” with “Bad Idea Right?,” an alt-rock anthem about tripping and falling into bed with an ex. “For me, this album is about growing pains and trying to figure out who I am at this point in my life,” Rodrigo said in a statement about Guts. “I feel like I grew 10 years between the ages of 18 and 20.”
Sparklehorse: Bird Machine [Anti-]
Bird Machine is the first full-length collection of new music from Sparklehorse since songwriter Mark Linkous died by suicide in 2010. The 14-song record was meticulously pieced together by Linkous’ younger brother Matt and his sister-in-law Melissa, who discovered boxes of tapes while organizing the Sparklehorse archives. The music on Bird Machine was initially meant to appear on the fifth Sparklehorse LP, originally slated for 2009. Mark Linkous had recorded the tracks with Steve Albini in Chicago, as well as with his 1968 Flickinger mixing console at his own Static King studio. The recordings, including singles “It Will Never Stop” and “Evening Star Supercharger,” were finished in collaboration with producer Alan Weatherhead, who co-produced with Matt and Melissa, mixer Joel Hamilton, and sometime Sparklehorse engineer Greg Calbi.
Romy: Mid Air [Young]
The xx’s Romy has said her solo debut, Mid Air, meditates on “celebration, sanctuary, and salvation on the dance floor.” The 11-song LP includes the 2022 single “Strong,” featuring Fred Again.., “Loveher” (produced by Fred Again..), and “The Sea.” Romy teased her solo endeavor back in 2020, when she debuted the LP’s second track, “Weightless,” during an Instagram Live session. Neither the song nor the album had names at that time. The xx released their most recent album, I See You, back in 2017.
James Blake: Playing Robots Into Heaven [Republic]
James Blake’s new album, Playing Robots Into Heaven, marks his return to electronic music following a string of melodic pop projects, like 2021’s Friends That Break Your Heart. The 11-track record includes glitchy lead single “Big Hammer,” which samples London jungle duo the Ragga Twins, as well as the synth-driven “Loading” and scuzzy dance cut “Tell Me.” Blake’s intricate textures on Playing Robots Into Heaven morph between techno, ambient, and subtle jungle rhythms—all of which converge for some of his most exciting work to date.
Anjimile: The King [4AD]
Boston-based artist Anjimile returns with The King, his 4AD debut and the follow-up to 2020’s Giver Taker. “If Giver Taker was an album of prayers,” the singer-songwriter explained in press materials, “The King is an album of curses.” The title track’s haunting, baroque pop is evidence enough for Anjimile’s thesis. Across the record’s 10 tracks, including the somber “Father,” Anjimile draws inspiration from religion, Philip Glass, and his own lived experiences. He also enlists a number of special guests for the project, such as Justine Bowe, Brad Allen Williams, Sam Gendel, and Big Thief’s James Krivchenia.
Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light [Impulse!]
And Protect Your Light is the latest album from experimental jazz outfit Irreversible Entanglements, made up of poet Camae Ayewa (aka Moor Mother), bassist Luke Stewart, trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, saxophonist Keir Neuringer, and drummer Tcheser Holmes. The sprawling free jazz document also marks the group’s debut on Impulse!, the legendary label that’s put out music by John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and more. The group recorded And Protect Your Light at Rudy Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, the birthplace of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
Buju Banton: Born for Greatness [Gargamel Music/Roc Nation/Def Jam]
Buju Banton’s last album was his first in 10 years, partly because the Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist served nearly seven years in a U.S. prison between 2011 and 2018. Having served his sentence, Banton is taking less of a pause between his 2020 album, Upside Down 2020, and a new LP. The new one, Born for Greatness, has collaborations with Victoria Monét, Stephen Marley, and Snoop Dogg.
Laufey: Bewitched [AWAL]
The title of Laufey’s second album, Bewitched, is also the title of its closing track, which the Icelandic Chinese artist called “my favorite song I’ve ever written.” Laufey blends traditional jazz with pop structures and instrumentation to create intimate but dramatic music that resonates with Gen Z. Her collaborations with artists like Beabadoobee have also helped.
Gaika: Drift [Big Dada]
Drift, Gaika’s first album for Big Dada Recordings, finds the London electronic artist drawing inspiration from the likes of Prince, John Coltrane, Massive Attack, A$AP Rocky, Pink Siifu, and the Wu-Tang Clan. Historically far-reaching in his tastes and influences, Gaika also gathers a variety of contributors, including Bbymutha, Azekel, Charlie Stacey, Brbko, the Narrator, and producer Kidä on production.
Speaker Music: Techxodus [Planet Mu]
DeForrest Brown Jr. has described his new Speaker Music album, Techxodus, as “abstracting Blackness through information overload.” The producer’s work has consistently focused on techno music as an inherently Black mode of expression. His 2022 book, Assembling a Black Counter Culture, for example, traced the history of the genre through the history of Black labor in America, highlighting Detroit as an important nexus for industrial capitalism, techno music, and the Black working class. He’s said Techxodus can be interpreted as an epilogue to the book, another consideration of the boundless forms electronic music can offer.