Inside the 30 Biggest Albums of Fall

Posted on

Foo Fighters: Concrete and Gold

Superproducer Greg Kurstin met Foos frontman Dave Grohl at a restaurant a few years ago when Grohl came over to praise Kurstin's own indie-pop band, the Bird and the Bee. From there a partnership blossomed. "I was trying to push [Foo Fighters] sonically," Kurstin says. "I got in there with the lush harmonies and brought some freaky sounds." While Kurstin was bringing the sounds, Grohl was bringing the delicious smoked meats — via his very own barbecue. Says Kurstin, "He's running in, playing a guitar track, and then he's like, 'I gotta check the smoker!'" Release date: Sept. 15

Rostam: Half-Light

In recent years, former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij has worked with Haim, Frank Ocean, Carly Rae Jepsen, and more — all while honing his solo debut. "I've always been very good at helping other people finish their songs," he says. But when it came to finishing his own? "I was hard on myself in terms of the storytelling aspects of the lyrics." That story, told over ornate string arrangements and indie-pop melodies, examines the intersection of identity and culture. "I have a really complicated relationship with American music," says the U.S.-born son of Iranian immigrants. "This record is me exploring those relationships and doing my version of what I think of as American music." Release date: Sept. 15

Fergie: Double Dutchess

A lot has changed for Fergie since her 2006 blockbuster, The Dutchess: She got married, to Transformers heartthrob Josh Duhamel, and a few years later welcomed their son, Axl. “That's why it took so long,” the singer says of the delay between albums. “I'm not going to sacrifice time with my child.” She returns this fall with a set that claws at every corner of the musical spectrum. “Sometimes I want to go more rock, sometimes I want to go straight pop or hip-hop,” she teases. Tying it all together are her strikingly candid lyrics. Says Fergie, “There's the pretty and the ugly; there's the rage, the sad. All of the things that I've experienced in my life, this is the place to put them.” Release date: Sept. 22

The Killers: Wonderful Wonderful

As they contemplated their fifth studio album — their first in five years — the Killers grappled with one big question: How do you innovate as a rock band without losing sight of who you are? They found an answer in producer Jacknife Lee, who understood the foursome's musical DNA but encouraged them to experiment in the studio on songs like the disco-tinged lead single "The Man." They also dug deep with their subject matter. Frontman Brandon Flowers describes tracks like "Rut" and the Brian Eno-sampling "Some Kind of Love" as "more tender or contemplative than we've ever been," while other songs are straight from his personal life. "I'm moving from Las Vegas, which is something I never thought I'd do," says Flowers. "There's a lot about why I'm leaving on this record, but I don't want to blow it." Release date: Sept. 22

Demi Lovato: Tell Me You Love Me

The pop diva is putting her vocal talents front and center on the follow-up to 2015's Confident. "I wanted to make sure that this album showcased my voice," the 25-year-old says. And if you couldn't already tell from the album's sassy belt-athon of a first single, "Sorry Not Sorry," tracks like the gospel-tinged "Tell Me You Love Me" and the cinematic "You Don't Do It For Me Anymore" will cement her status as one of her generation's most powerful vocalists. Says Lovato: "I think what'll surprise fans the most for this new album is how R&B I'm going." Release date: Sept. 29

Miley Cyrus: Younger Now

"No one stays the same," Cyrus declares on the country-flavored title track from her new album, Younger Now. You can say that again: She's retired the foam finger from her twerking days and departed from the psychedelic leanings of her Dead Petz phase for a pop-rock sound that's a little more wholesome yet — if "Younger Now" and lead single "Malibu" are any indication — just as compelling. Release date: Sept. 29

Shania Twain: Now

Fifteen years after releasing her diamond-certified album Up!, the pop-country icon returns with a fresh batch of tunes. "I just kept writing and writing and writing and never getting to the next stage and finishing," she told EW last year. Once she was ready to record, Twain teamed up with producers like Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, One Direction) and Ron Aniello (Bruce Springsteen) as well as pop songsmith Matthew Koma for this "euphoric" set — her first since divorcing Mutt Lange, who produced three of her hit albums. "I enjoy it more now than I ever did," Twain said of the process. "I [used to be] less involved with the production side.... Now I'm in there all the way." Release date: Sept. 29

Liam Gallagher: As You Were

For the Oasis singer's solo debut, producer Greg Kurstin worked on four songs and flexed some new production muscles in the process. "[Liam] was referencing things that I love but haven't gotten a chance to do before on a recording — earlier Stones and Bowie and stuff like that," Kurstin says. "It was really fun for me to break out that gear in my studio and just try to get the raunchiest sounds I possibly could. He seemed into the sounds I was adding, so that got me really comfortable." Release date: Oct. 6

Beck: Colors

For the follow-up to 2014's contemplative Grammy-winning Morning Phase, Beck turned to Kurstin, who had played in Beck's touring band in the early 2000s. "We wanted to make a party album," Kurstin explains, citing his love of the alt-rocker's wilder '90s output. That meant drawing on everything from "psychedelic '60s music" to "angular kraut-rock" to Peter Gabriel. Says Kurstin, "We really love songs with some complex changes, and Beck has a history of these songs with really cool twists and turns." Release date: Oct. 13

Pink: Beautiful Trauma

Pink kicked off her first studio album in five years with a serious note — the politically charged single "What About Us" — but she swears her seventh LP won't be total a downer. "There was no other goal than to not have an album full of slow, sad songs, because that's all I had for a while," she says. "And I just wanted to record better than I have before. I've never been that great of a recorder, [I've always been] better live." Release date: Oct. 13

St. Vincent: MASSEDUCTION

After making the best album of 2014, Annie Clark decided to switch things up for her fifth LP as St. Vincent, recruiting pop hitmaker Jack Antonoff (Lorde, Taylor Swift) to give her intricate compositions some addictive '80s-inspired verve. "I found it to be like shaking up a can of soda and then opening the top," she says. "Oftentimes great things would happen—they would just burst out." Release date: Oct. 13

Robert Plant: Carry Fire

"It's been a great adventure and a departure for me," the iconic Led Zeppelin frontman says of his 11th solo studio album. "Structurally, songs can build in a totally different way [compared] to how they would've in the '60s and '70s. You can add a piece and at will take it away, put it back, try it sideways, upside down." Modern studio trickery allowed Plant to continue his electronic experiments with John Baggott (Portishead, Massive Attack). Carry Fire also features some of the singer's most political work yet, like the stomping "Carving Up the World Again... a wall and not a fence." Says Plant: "They're universal issues that have no particular time of beginning and don't look like they're ever going to end. You can't ignore them — you can only comment on them." Release date: Oct. 13

Margo Price: All American Made

When the singer-songwriter emerged in 2016 with her whip-smart Midwest Farmer's Daughter LP, music critics hailed her as the next Loretta Lynn and a savior of "real" country music. But don't expect more of the same when it comes to her follow-up this fall. "I think a lot of people think I just sing old-timey country music, but it ain't so!" explains Price, who's signed to Jack White's Third Man Records. True to her word, she expands her sonic palette, mixing in soul, rock, and the blues. "It feels good to rock out a little bit," she says. "There's so many different kinds of great music out there. [This] kind of fills in the sonic landscape of America." Release date: Oct. 20

Jessie Ware: Glasshouse

After giving birth to her first child last September, the British soul singer struggled to record the follow-up to 2014's critically acclaimed Tough Love. Ware admits she was too focused on potential hits and what she thought people wanted from her. "I'd lost a bit of myself," she says. After longtime collaborator Benny Blanco (Halsey, Maroon 5) took her aside and told her the material wasn't working, Ware tuned out the voices and trusted her instincts for her most powerful and vulnerable LP yet. Ed Sheeran co-wrote the stunning album-closer "Sam," named for Ware's husband, while the dreamy "Thinking About You" wrestles with the occasional guilt of being a working mom. "That song feels really raw," Ware says. "I'm going to cry when I sing it." Release date: Oct. 20

Kelly Clarkson: Meaning of Life

"This is a grown-ass-woman's record," EW's new cover star says of her upcoming LP. "This isn't a record I could have made at the age of 20. This is a record you make when you've lived." Though it features returning collaborators such as Jesse Shatkin and Greg Kurstin, the album marks a soulful new sound for the singer best known for fiery pop-rock anthems like "Since U Been Gone." Says Clarkson, "It’s nice to not always do the same thing over and over again. I’ve never been afraid of that." Release date: Oct. 27

Weezer: Pacific Daydream

The nerd-rockers have been on a prolific streak — their 11th LP, Pacific Daydream, is also their third in the past four years. "I have stockpiles of ideas going back to the '90s," frontman Rivers Cuomo says. "There's material on the record that pulls from way back when." But anyone hoping for a carbon copy of the seminal Blue Album sound will be surprised. "We finally succeeded in making a radical departure from the power-pop songs we've always done," Cuomo says, likening their new material to "the Clash playing Pet Sounds." Cuomo even imposed some unusual lyrical restrictions on himself. "On this album I prohibited the word girl," he shares. "It always works, and it's great, but what happens if you're not allowed to use it? It sent me off in some different directions." Release date: Oct. 27

Niall Horan: Flicker

Horan has known what his eventual solo album would sound like since he was 10 years old. Now that he's 23 — and One Direction are on hiatus — we get to hear what it sounds like too. "I wanted to make music that would come really freely to me," the Ireland native says, adding that he looked to rock & roll legends like Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen for inspiration on his debut, a collection of "relationship-based" songs that includes the folky lead single "This Town," the funky "Slow Hands," and the Maren Morris collab "Seeing Blind." But even a vision as assured as his couldn't help him out with one challenge: the physical demands of singing without his bandmates. "I had never really sung on a song for three and a half minutes," he says with a laugh. "That was different." Release date: Oct. TBD

Camila Cabello: Title TBD

The former Fifth Harmony star estimates that about half of her upcoming album has the same Latin flavor as "Havana," her recent collaboration with Young Thug and Pharrell Williams. "I wanted it to be a song that tied what was playing around my house as a kid to the kind of music I listen to now," Cabello says of the song, which "went through at least nine different versions" before it was released. "I wanted it to be something nobody else could do," she explains. Release date: Oct. TBD

Kelsea Ballerini: Unapologetically

This breakout star made history in 2016 when she became the first female artist to have her first three singles go to No. 1 on country radio. For the successor to 2015's The First Time, she wanted to hone her songwriting style. "My goal is that if someone listens to the record, they will know I wrote it without looking at the credits," she says. The album pulls from the ups and downs of her past two years. Says Ballerini, "It starts dark and angsty with a breakup, then goes into living life in my young 20s and finding more pieces of who I am, and then into meeting [fiancé] Morgan [Evans] and falling on my face in love." Release date: Nov. 3

Maroon 5: Title TBD

They've got a dozen top 10 hits to their name, but the L.A. band isn't afraid to get weird in the studio. "The song we did is one of the strangest songs I've ever made," says producer Ricky Reed, who's helmed oddball winners from Meghan Trainor ("No") and Kesha ("Hymn") in recent years. "It feels like wind chimes — as breezy, beautiful, and effortless as it is wandering and unpredictable." And for those who think Adam Levine & Co. have strayed too far from their rockier roots, Reed divulges that the guys still love to thrash. "I spent most of the day guitar-geeking with James [Valentine] and jamming Rage Against the Machine with Adam." Rock on. Release date: Nov. 3

Taylor Swift: reputation

The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now — because she’s busy twisting the pop sheen of her megawatt 1989 LP into something almost unrecognizably dark and in-your-face. The album’s polarizing first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” draws on aggressive electroclash, while the Max Martin team-up “…Ready For It?” experiments with dubstep and hip-hop. And as the LP’s title suggests, instead of just mining her love life for Top 40 gold, she’s also confronting her own public image: Come November, the national sport might be matching up songs with the feuds that may have inspired them, not her exes. Release date: Nov. 10

Mavis Staples: If All I Was Was Black

The Staples Singer teamed up with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy for the third time in her legendary career for an incendiary soul album that wrestles with racism, violence, and division but ultimately insists on hope. "He seemed like he just got all up inside my heart to write these songs for me," Staples says of Tweedy's lyrics. "I'm all about love and coming together and forgiving." She believes the message will resonate in 2017: "I'm thinking that this album is going to change the world, turn us around, and get us back on safe street." Your lips, God's ears, Mavis! Release date: Nov. 17

Walk The Moon: Title TBD

The band's 2014 single "Shut Up and Dance" marked a professional high for the foursome when it became a sleeper pop hit, but what followed were some personal lows, including the death of frontman Nicholas Petricca's father. "This album is based around looking into the unknown and realizing that it could all go to s--- or it could be the best thing in your life," he says. "We're reaching higher and further with each sound, but the lyrics are closer to the heart." Release date: Nov. TBD

Wiz Khalifa: Title TBD

Don't expect the MC's upcoming full-length to have the same somber vibes of his 2015 chart-topper "See You Again." Says Khalifa, "My motivation was really just to keep people happy. That's where the inspiration comes from. Any good situation or any fun feeling, I tried to capsulize that and put it in the record and give people the happy sides to relate to." But while Khalifa emphasizes the project's positivity, he warns that the album isn't all good vibes. "There's a lot of f--- s--- going on that you can talk about," he says, alluding to current tensions throughout the world. "And of course I get real on the album. It was a process of me really putting all of my true feelings out there." Release date: Nov. TBD

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill: Title TBD

More than 20 years into McGraw and Hill's superstar marriage, fans are finally getting what they've long hoped for: a duets record! "The timing never seemed right," McGraw says. "We didn't want to do an album just because we could." So they waited to find the right cuts and are now ready to share their hard work. McGraw says the collection runs the gamut from "some stuff that's almost retro-country" to "some stuff that pushes the envelope [of modern country]," and the result has them both thrilled. It better, says Hill, "because we're only doing it once!" Release date: Nov. TBD

U2: Songs of Experience

The follow-up to 2014’s Songs of Innocence has been gestating for a long time — so long, in fact, that in 2015 Bono told EW the band was whittling down 18 tracks for an imminent release. That obviously didn’t happen, but the record finally is about to: The band recently dropped the first single, “You’re the Best Thing About Me,” and shared new tracks like “The Blackout” and “The Little Things That Give You Away.” Release date: Dec. 1

Chris Stapleton: From A Room: Volume 2

After debuting with his double-platinum, Grammy-winning LP Traveller in 2015, the soul-country revivalist spread out his follow-up, From A Room, across two records this year. Volume 1 landed in May, and now Volume 2 is on its way. "Traveller was made by doing what I always try to do, which is make music that I like and think is fun," Stapleton says of how he handles the pressure. "I very quickly made the decision that we were just going to let the chips fall where they will." He reunited with Nashville studio whiz Dave Cobb and cut songs he'd written as far back as 12 years ago. "We try to make it about guys and girls in a room playing music when the mood strikes," he says. "That's where the magic lives." Release date: TBD

Sia: Title TBD

"She is unbelievable," producer Greg Kurstin says of the woman he's worked with for a decade. "I don't know how she comes up with song lyric and melody ideas so quickly. She's like no one else." Working with the enigmatic singer on her album of original Christmas songs reminded Kurstin of their early, pre-wig days together. "[It] took me back to when we used to get into jazz chord changes," he says, noting that this record will run the stylistic gamut: "There's some really fun uptempo Christmas jams, and then there's also some Sia ballads." Release date: TBD

Tove Lo: Blue Lips

Last fall, Sweden's resident wild child revealed that her 2016 Lady Wood opus was the first part of a double album — and that she already had the second part in the can. The upcoming sequel will continue the LP's story line about chasing rushes — whether through sex, drugs, or performing on stage — with high-octane material like the deliriously fun "Disco Tits." Says the electro-pop singer, "It all comes back to the fact that I never want to live a life where I'm numb or life just passes me by. No matter how painful, it's worth the risk. It's been a chaotic writing period, but that gave this album a lot of fire." Release date: TBD

Sam Smith: Title TBD

Smith's world has turned upside down since he released “Stay With Me” in 2014: He became a chart-topping superstar, cleaned up at the Grammys, noticeably slimmed down, and saw his personal life become headline fodder. But you wouldn’t guess any of that from the LP’s first single, “Too Good at Goodbyes,” which reunites him with “Stay With Me” collaborator Jimmy Napes for another heartbreak ballad that checks the boxes for everything you’d want from a Sam Smith song. (He does have some surprises in the works, though: Smith recently confirmed that he worked with Timbaland on one track.) Release date: TBD
Outbrain