MICHAEL JACKSON Invincible (Epic) Incredible. After two years of delays and more manufactured buzz than a bee convention, Jacko–dare we say it?–is back.

BACKSTREET BOYS The Hits–Chapter One (Jive) All your favorites–“I Want It That Way,” and, um, what else?–are on this optimistically titled collection.

LENNY KRAVITZ Lenny (Virgin) On his first new disc since 1998’s 5, the classic-rock revivalist produced, sang, and played guitar, bass, drums, and organ.

JERMAINE DUPRI Instructions (SoSoDef/Columbia) A roster of all-stars (Lil’ Bow Wow, Ludacris) go to bat on the hip-hop superproducer’s second solo album.


STARSAILOR “Good Souls” (import single) This U.K. quartet are the latest practitioners of grandiose Brit melancholia. Look for their U.S. debut early next year.

MAXIMILIAN HECKER “Polyester” (from Infinite Love Song) Berlin street busker-turned-pop craftsman drops the loveliest sad song in recent memory.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE “We Laugh Indoors” (from The Photo Album) “I loved you, Guinevere,” singer Benjamin Gibbard repeatedly intones over a fast-but-spare beat that sounds just like a happily pounding heartbeat.

KEN STRINGFELLOW “Down Like Me” (from Touched) The Posies singer’s first solo disc is as warm and hooky as you’d expect, with fine recording by Mitch Easter.

NIKKI SUDDEN “Death Is Hanging Over Me” (from the Texas reissue) Little heard in this country, Sudden’s ’80s solo albums are finally getting the reissue treatment–great news for fans of spacey roots-adelia.