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The 22 Must-Hear Albums

From pantsless pop vixens to reinvigorated rock gods, indie upstarts to rising rappers, Autumn offers an embarrassment of sonic riches; these have our ear

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Dark-Rock Comeback King
Nine Inch Nails , Hesitation Marks
Trent Reznor emerges from NIN retirement with an Oscar (for scoring 2010’s The Social Network) and a newly energized — but still gratifyingly grown-up goth — album and tour. Sept. 3

New U.K. Cool Kids
The 1975, The 1975
The boys’ grunge-chic look makes you think they should be called the 1991, but it’s the songs that distill three decades of angular radio anthems into one immensely hooky debut. Sept. 3

EDM’s Great White Hope
Avicii, True
The Swedish club king goes loco with guests like Nile Rodgers and country singer Mac Davis. So far, so huge: The strummy ”Wake Me Up” is an international smash. Sept. 3

Out-There Soul Queen
Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady
Friends like Prince, Miguel, and Erykah Badu help the eccentric songstress scale up on her second album. Sept. 10

Tasty 24-Karat MC
2 Chainz, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time
The latest from Atlanta’s best-accessorized rapper/Instagram food-porn enthusiast will include a recipe for each track, so come hungry. Sept. 10

Down Under Strummer
Keith Urban, Fuse
The Idol judge citifies his sound, enlisting producers like Butch Walker (Pink) and Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift), and even adding some electronic touches. Sept. 10

Avant-Garde R&B Star
The Weeknd, Kiss Land
Drake pal Abel Tesfaye gets spooky, working scary-movie sounds into his acclaimed R&B atmospherics. Sept. 10

Most Rollin’ Rockers
Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull
It’s not as long as it used to be, but the Tennessee band of brothers (and cousins) let their hair down again on their sixth effort. Sept. 24

Dynamic Dance-Floor Duo
Icona Pop, This Is…
Are there more car-crash-worthy anthems like ”I Love It” on their full-length debut? Only these ’90s bitches know for sure. Sept. 24

[Electro-Pop Breakouts]
Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe
The Scottish trio have already won over indie blogs — if not the vowel police — with their airy synth-pop hit ”Recover.” Sept. 24

It-Girl Sister Act
Haim, Days Are Gone
Three L.A. siblings blend breezy Laurel Canyon rock with radio-pop production and a Roc Nation bankroll. Pencil them in to headline Coachella 2015. Sept. 30

MVP of Twerk
Miley Cyris, Bangerz
”We Can’t Stop” is a smash, so we can’t stop thinking there’s more where that came from, especially with Pharrell’s production help. Oct. 8

Great Grunge Survivalists
Pearl Jam, Lightning Bolt
The flannel gods deliver punk-surf agitation on their 10th studio album. It’s not all raging against the machine, though; look for some epic ballads that recall their Vs.-era heyday. Oct. 15

Southern Comforters
The Avett Brothers, Magpie and the Dandelion
Homier than Mumford, less suspendered than the Lumineers, these North Carolina boys bring more pretty, twangy folk on their eighth studio release. Oct. 15

Multiplatinum Pop Goddess
Katy Perry, Prism
The California Gurl reteams with high-gloss hitmakers Max Martin and Dr. Luke, and also brings the edgier Diplo into the fold. New Katy? No problem! Oct. 22

Majestic Rock Return
Arcade Fire, Reflektor
The Canadian art-rockers’ last record won them the Album of the Year Grammy. Now they’re back, with LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy handling partial production duties. Oct. 29

Agit-Pop Provocateur
M.I.A., Matangi
You don’t have to agree with her politics to love multiculti block-rockers like ”Bad Girls” — she might even like it better that way. Nov. 5

Ultimate Fame Monster
Lady Gaga, ARTPOP
It’s easy to forget that the multi-platform media queen’s main gig is, you know, music. But she promises that her fourth effort is ”a true glam electronic album.” In other words, it won’t be boring. Nov. 11

Hypnotic Hip-Hopper
Future, Honest
This Atlanta rapper’s ultra-mellow flow has saturated the charts via hits by the likes of Lil Wayne, but his latest proves that he’s earned a spot at center stage. Nov. 26

The Mayor MC of Motor City
Eminem, Title TBD
Slim Shady returns for his eighth album, featuring Dr. Dre, Kanye West mentor No I.D., and a whole lot more of his trademark underdog bluster. Date TBD

Rap’s Northern Light
Drake, Nothing Was the Same
Not even NAFTA can compel the Toronto native to share the details of his third studio album. Drizzy has been as tight-lipped as ever about his work, though he did reveal that Whitney Houston and Curtis Mayfield are both sampled on the record, and has confessed, ”It’s my story…I’m trying to get back to that kid in the basement.” Started from the bottom, indeed. Sept. 17

The Double Whammy
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2
Forget the night, dude’s taking back the year: The musical offensive that JT launched back in the spring will continue when he drops the second half of the 20/20 package. Other than the retro, Michael Jackson-sweatin’ lead single, Part 2 promises outtakes from the first installment, new stuff from more recent sessions, and a ”special surprise.” Here’s hoping it’s an *NSYNC reunion track! Sept. 30