Reviews of the new records from Lenny Kravitz, Perfume Genius, and more


Aphex Twin, Syro
Thirteen years after his last release — the abstract, obtuse Drukqs — electronic music’s favorite madman returns with a startlingly accessible, possibly even pop-friendly effort. Who knows, the whole thing may turn out to be an elaborate conceptual prank in Richard D. James’ mind, but when it’s this amazing to dance to, it hardly matters. AMiles Raymer

Lenny Kravitz, Strut
Filmmaker Brian De Palma cribs most of his moves from Hitchcock, but he does it with such gusto that you can’t help but admire the work. That’s Lenny Kravitz: Ten albums in, his lustful embrace of Prince guitar jams and Sly Stone jungle funk — highlighted by Strut‘s sweaty disco hybrid ”The Chamber” — makes his lack of originality and occasional corniness eminently forgivable. B+Kyle Anderson

alt-J, This Is All Yours
The British trio have built a fervent following by combining fringy sounds with unabashedly poppy hooks, like three early-career Becks reincarnated as Miley Cyrus fans. The band has upped its sonic ambition on the follow-up to its Mercury Prize-winning debut, but the plethora of headphone-friendly tones frequently overshadow melodies that feel less than fully developed. B-Miles Raymer

Perfume Genius, Too Bright
”No family is safe/When I sashay,” Mike Hadreas, a.k.a. Perfume Genius, sings with a sneer on ”Queen.” The song, like the rest of his third album, is hypnotic, sublime, scary pop music — catchy enough for a teen-movie soundtrack, weird enough to employ the word sashay as a threat. Too Bright feels like his strongest statement yet, and his loveliest: On the title track, a vulnerable choral ballad, delicate pianos and airy vocals mingle winsomely, while ”Grid” plays like an art-damaged rock & roll nightmare. Even the moments between the standouts float by with a strange beauty. Don’t miss them. A-Ray Rahman

John Mellencamp, Plain Spoken
On his past two albums, Mellencamp leaned heavily on producer T Bone Burnett to guide his transformation into a strummy folk warbler. His self-produced 22nd release is less fussily arranged, which lets Plain‘s simple tunes unfold breezily and organically. He’s not a Dylan-or Springsteen-level poet, but his commitment to melody galvanizes ”Sometimes There’s God” and ”The Courtesy of Kings,” two sweet, shaggy campfire jams. BKyle Anderson