Exclusive details on new albums by Haim, the Shins, Spoon, Brad Paisley, Depeche Mode and more.
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Pop some bottles and put on your party hats: 2016 is finally coming to a close. But as we say farewell to a year that brought us killer albums from Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Frank Ocean, it’s time to welcome a slew of new tunes from some of pop’s heavy hitters (Kelly Clarkson!), hip-hop’s radical MCs (Run The Jewels!), country’s queens (Shania Twain!), and rock’s coolest badasses (Haim!). Below, EW has exclusive details on 35 of the most anticipated albums of 2017.

The Flaming Lips, Oczy Mlody, Jan. 13
Oczy mlody is Polish for “eyes of the young” — not that Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne knew this when the psych-rock band decided to use the phrase as the title for its 15th studio album. The fearless psych-rocker, who doesn’t speak Polish, become enamored of the words after picking up a used book written in that language years ago. And that’s not even the most peculiar part of Oczy Mlody. One highlight: a protest song about unicorn eye colors featuring a spoken word interlude by Reggie Watts, which was inspired by Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Coyne says working with Miley Cyrus and producer Mike Will Made-It on her 2015 album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz reinvigorated the Lips’ creative process. “There’s probably 500 new gadgets every week put out there,” Coyne says. “We’re always playing with s—. It would be dreadfully boring for us to still be making records playing acoustic guitars and pianos all the time.” —Eric Renner Brown

Bumbershoot 2016
Credit: Jim Bennett/FilmMagic

Run The Jewels, Run The Jewels 3, Jan. 13.

Since forming RTJ in 2013, rappers El-P and Killer Mike have released two acclaimed albums of bombastic, belligerent rap — but they’re just getting started. “Run the Jewels is kind of a newborn child for us,” El-P says of Run the Jewels 3. “Every time we do one of these records, the kid grows up a little bit and has more to say.” This time around, they’re bringing in guests like TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and saxophone phenom Kamasi Washington. But their politically incendiary rhymes remain the draw, especially in the wake of 2016’s divisive election. “Our job is to make dope-ass rap music,” Mike says. Adds El-P: “We can provide some music and some swagger in the face of doom.” —E.R.B.

The xx, I See You, Jan. 13

Pop’s shiest trio have shared little details about their upcoming third LP, but judging by the lead single “On Hold,” expect them to veer into a more vibrant direction. That’d make sense considering member Jamie xx broke out in 2015 with his dazzling, dancey debut In Colour. “We know these are uncertain times,” the band wrote on Twitter in Nov., “and we hope the joy & love we found making the record will get out into the world, in however a small way.” —Madison Vain

Japandroids, Near to the Wild Heart of Life, Jan. 27

For their third album — and the follow-up to 2012’s critically-beloved Celebration Rock — the Vancouver garage-rock duo decamped to New Orleans. And the Big Easy’s strong musical spirit inspired the ‘Droids to think outside of the box for Near to the Wild Heart of Life‘s eight anthems. “Our old strategy was trying to basically create a really great live record in the studio,” guitarist and singer Brian King says. “Not being afraid of using the studio for what it’s capable of is not necessarily a strategy, per se, but it does kind of open the door to infinite possibilities that I don’t think we ever really considered before this album.” That means a smattering of loop pedals and acoustic guitars — but even with the sonic tweaks, their knack for cathartic sing-alongs is alive and well. —E.R.B.

2016 Soul Train Music Awards - Soul Train Day Party
Credit: Bryan Steffy/BET/Getty Images for BET

Bell Biv DeVoe, Three Stripes, Jan. 27

For their first new album in 15 years, the ’90s kings of new jack swing sought inspiration from a younger generation of artists like Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and the Weeknd. “We would be like, ‘What would Justin say right here?’ ” Ricky Bell says. “On one of our songs, ‘I’m Betta,’ we
 did a Timberlake impersonation.” But they also returned to their roots, and the album has nostalgic guest spots from Boyz II Men, Doug E. Fresh, and the R&B group SWV. “We see that millennials know us from ‘Poison’ and 
 ‘Do Me!’ but we wanted 
to keep it innovative,” 
says Ronnie DeVoe. 
“We’re still fresh and young and [this album] feels like an 
extension of what we 
did back in the day.” 
—Jessica Goodman

Sampha, Process, Feb. 3

You may not know his name, but you definitely know his voice. The British producer-singer has lent his soulful pipes to songs by Jessie Ware, Drake, Frank Ocean, Solange, and others. And he had breakout success in 2016 with his rousing stomper “Blood on Me.” Sampha was more surprised by that track’s trajectory than anyone. “I was a little bit weirded out by the song,” he admits. “It was a bit more aggressive than what I usually do.” Next spring, he’ll release his debut full-length, a sprawling, electronic exploration of soul, pop, and R&B. “I got to a point in my life where I was emotionally ready to take on all the things that come along with putting an album out. I learned a lot and, as experience does, it folds itself into your everyday character.” —M.V.

Ryan Adams, Prisoner, Feb. 17

Originally scheduled for this Fall, the singer-songwriter’s 16th studio album culls “quite literally 80” songs, as he told EW in Aug., down to the dozen that appear here. Expect Adams to explore heartbreak in the wake of his 2016 divorce from actress Mandy Moore. (Sample song titles include “To Be Without You” and “Haunted House.”) “I’m taking all the cool, big questions I’m asking on this record, then flipping it over, and then flipping it back to Side-A and you still have more questions…I’m a relatively convoluted soul creatively,” he told EW. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think the challenge for me — the Everest peak, for me — is to tell this story in [these] songs, to tell this part of my life in [these] songs. How do I make a real distinct record where anybody listens to it and says, ‘That’s the truth from beginning to end.’ So it’s like exercise. It sucks in the beginning. But then you get into it.” —Kevin O’Donnell

Alison Krauss, Windy City, Feb. 17

The country singer had a simple idea for this collection of covers. “I wanted songs that were older than me,” Krauss says. So she and Nashville producer Buddy Cannon selected 10 of their favorites — from Willie Nelson’s “I Never Cared For You” to Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me” — and set them to rootsy arrangements. And while many of the tunes are united by themes of love lost, Krauss says, “There’s a hope to it.” —M.V.

Jens Lekman, Life Will See You Now, Feb. 17

Sweden’s finest storyteller had a version 
of his fourth record ready to go in 2014, but something felt off. “It sounded like I had given up,” he says. To escape his rut, he launched the ambitious Postcards project, where he wrote and released one song per week in 2015. “It was a way of slapping myself in the face and saying, ‘You can do anything!’” he says. That liberated approach shows on the jaunty “To Know Your Mission,” which was inspired by Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Says Lekman, “Every song started like a joke with myself — ‘I’m just going to do this stupid thing’ — that turned into something great.” —Nolan Feeney

Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival - Day 3
Credit: David Becker/Getty Images

Little Big Town, The Breaker, Feb. 24

The Grammy-winning group 
took a detour into the pop world in June with the Pharrell-produced Wanderlust. But with The Breaker, Little Big Town are reviving their more homespun country sound. To record the album, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook took over a converted Nashville church owned by producer Jay Joyce and laid down the tracks in a live setting. “The vibe was so cool, with all the stained-glass windows,” says Fairchild. “We’d all play and sing at the same time, right there with Jay at the boards.” The resulting collection blends upbeat fare like “Drivin’ Around” (“a crazy, fun, loud throwback song” says Fairchild) with wistful odes like “Beat Up Bible,” featuring Schlapman on lead vocals. And naturally the album also includes the band’s Taylor Swift–penned hit single “Better Man.” “She had sent it to Phillip and we were like, ‘Wow! That’s a good email to get — and thank God that didn’t go to your spam folder!’ ” says Fairchild. “When we played it for her [the first time], it was nerve-racking but fun because you could see the joy on her face.” —K.O.

2016 Pemberton Music Festival
Credit: Phillip Chin/WireImage

SZA, Title TBD, Feb. TBD

After three dreamy EPs and choice collaborations with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Rihanna, Solána “SZA” Rowe is finally ready to drop her debut album. And the collection finds the St. Louis native punching up the volume. “I was hiding before,” the art-soul singer admits, referencing her more subdued EPs. “I was scared. I’m not professionally trained, I didn’t grow up in the church — so I didn’t have choir — and, you know, I wanted to be great.” Her ambition was partly realized by tastemaking collaborators like Kaytranada, Travis Scott, and BADBADNOTGOOD — and she’s serving up no shortage of racy lyrics. “There are certain things that, in my mind, are conversations that I don’t realize are candid,” she explains. “But my mom definitely lets me know when she hears it. She’s like, ‘That is not appropriate!’” —M.V.

Brad Paisley, Love and War, March 3

Paisley has been a major Nashville player since debuting in 1999, but now he’s trying to mix things up. “There might have been a few [albums] in a row where we had figured out a formula,” he admits. “You know it’s time to go away from that when the reviews are like, ‘Well, he’s doing the same thing again…’” So for his 11th studio LP, Paisley wanted to “throw a wrench in it. It’s really empowering. I’m beyond excited for it to come out.” —M.V.

FYF Fest 2016 - Day 2
Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for FYF

Nelly Furtado, The Ride, March 31

When she began working on her sixth album in 2014, Nelly Furtado had just come out of a 20-year business relationship, the end of which she says felt like a divorce. “But that very same day I sat at the piano and wrote the best song I’d written in a long time,” says the “Promiscuous” singer. That track became “Phoenix,” a featured cut on The Ride — her first album since 2012’s The Spirit Indestructible. Other tunes were penned during her far-flung travels to places like Chile, Kenya, and Nashville, where she teamed with writer Liz Rose (Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”). Her best moments, however, happened in Dallas; there she collaborated with Grammy-winning producer John Congleton, who pushed her lyrically. “These songs are more poetic than I’ve been in the past.” 

Michelle Branch, Hopeless Romantic, April 7

After frustrations with her onetime label, which shelved two releases, Michelle Branch was anxious about her next career move. Then the singer-songwriter met the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney at a Grammys party in 2015. “He was like, ‘Where have you been?’” recalls Branch, who has since signed with Verve. It wasn’t long before the “Everywhere” singer hit the studio with Carney to work on her fourth LP. “Patrick was like, ‘This is your record, it has to sound like you,’” she says. “It was the first time that someone pushed me to figure it all out on my own.” And what she discovered was a laid-back rock & roll sound, with deeply personal lyrics inspired by her 2015 divorce and — plot twist! — her budding romance with Carney. “The lust, the love, the heartbreak,” she says. “It’s all there.” —M.V.

Shania Twain In Concert - Denver, Colorado
Shania Twain
| Credit: Daniel Petty/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Shania Twain, Title TBD, Late Spring

When you’ve sold a bajillion albums and become one of the best-selling female artists in history, you can be allowed a little time off. So it’s been for country-pop queen Shania Twain. But after her successful two-year Las Vegas residency and 2015’s Rock This Country tour, she’s finally returning with a follow-up to 2002’s diamond-certified Up! “I’m so overdue!” says the 51-year-old. “I feel like I just need to keep making albums now.” For her fifth studio LP, Twain drew upon years of melodic and lyrical ideas that she had stored on various recording devices. “There’s, like, five of them,” she says with a laugh. “I’m forever backing things up. So if it’s a rainy day or I’m bored, I’ll go through my electronics and listen to things. They’ll have titles like ‘Fun beat’ or ‘Fab memory.’ ” Armed with those gigabytes of data, Twain teamed up with producers Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, One Direction), Ron Aniello (Bruce Springsteen), Jacquire King (Kings of Leon), and songwriter-producer 
Matthew Koma to hone the material. She says the finished album includes “painful and melancholy ballads that evolved into complete upbeat songs” and “triumphant” girl-power rockers. Although her ex-husband Mutt Lange, who produced Up! and 1997’s record-breaking Come On Over, is out of the picture, Twain is as confident as ever about her new songs. “By the end [of the recording process], I felt like I had climbed a huge mountain and was standing on top of it, looking God in the eye, and saying, ‘I’m here! What do I gotta do next?’” —K.O.

Charli XCX, Title TBD, Spring TBD

The British singer says her third album is “half a straight-up pop album and half a more club-oriented record.… It’s all pop, but some of it’s harder and more aggressive, and you’ll want to take more drugs to [one] half than the other.” The bonkers, futuristic sound of songs like the tentatively titled “Girl’s Night Out” comes courtesy of avant-garde beatsmith SOPHIE, who produced Charli’s experimental Vroom Vroom EP from February. “He has an immense knowledge of pop music and can produce really next-level 
records,” Charli says. She’s also scored a guest spot from Lil Yachty on the lead single “After the Afterparty.” Though the record isn’t due until late spring, she’s hoping to tide fans over with a mixtape in early 2017, too: 
“I’m definitely someone who gets bored waiting [around].” —N.F.

St. Vincent, Title TBD, Spring TBD

The art-rock queen promises her fifth album will be a “real sea change” for her sound. “I think it’ll be the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done,” she told Guitar World. “I feel the playing field is really open for creative people to do whatever you want, and that risk will be rewarded.” Expect plenty of forward-thinking tunes from the woman whose most recent effort, St. Vincent, was EW’s top album of 2014. —E.R.B.

Depeche Mode, Spirit, Spring TBD

Like the American electoral process, Depeche Mode have been operating on a four-year cycle — just not exactly on purpose. 
“It looks as if we planned it that way, but we really didn’t,” says guitarist Martin Gore 
of the synth-rock gods’ last six releases 
being so evenly spaced. “I actually think 
it’s a nice healthy length of time, though. 
In the ’80s we were putting out albums pretty much every year — and you can’t keep up that pace, on all kinds of levels.” Instead, the group settled in with a new 
producer, James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence + the Machine), and turned out tracks, such as “Where’s the Revolution,” that are more topical than they intended: “The songs were written before things like Brexit and Trump happened, but there were a lot of hints the world was in a mess before that. And I think it’s very fitting with the times.” —Leah Greenblatt

Spoon, Title TBD, Spring TBD

For Spoon’s ninth studio album, the Austin rockers are returning to Matador Records, the indie label that released their 1996 debut, Telephono. They’ve also teamed once more with Flaming Lips’ longtime producer Dave Fridmann. “I love working with Dave because he makes a point to f— things up,” says frontman Britt Daniel. As ever, Daniel & Co. have crafted multidimensional jams that showcase textured guitar riffs, warm keyboards, oddball studio effects, and 
 Daniel’s sandpaper-rough croon. Twenty-three years in, he is creatively invigorated like never before. “I love this record,” Daniel says. “I feel like we are on to something—we’re covering some new ground.” –K.O.

Credit: Carlo Cruz/redbullcontentpool.com Courtesy Columbia Records

Haim, Title TBD, Summer TBD

When Danielle, Este, and Alana Haim began work on the follow-up to 2013’s Days Are Gone, they regrouped in their childhood living room. The trio wanted to preserve their creative independence after a few marathon years that saw them sign with Jay Z’s Roc Nation management, play stadiums with Taylor Swift, and dominate critics’ best-of lists. “We wanted to get back to our so-called roots,” Danielle says. “We needed it just to be the three of us in the beginning.” As a result, the sisters say their new album strips away some of the bells and whistles of their debut in favor of a more organic live-band feel. “I played a fretless five-string [bass], and I haven’t played one since I was a 12-year-old listening to Korn,” says Este. To keep their process intimate, they collaborated with only two outsiders: indie producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who worked on their debut, and ex–Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij. “There’s three perfectionists in our band,” says Alana. “To add any more people would be too much of a party.” Haim’s perfectionist tendencies are the cause of the LP’s shifting arrival date—they’d hoped to release it this fall—but they are eager to share new music soon. (The group has already road-tested the songs “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Little of Your Love.”) Says Alana: “We’re super excited for the next chapter, to just tour our hearts out and really hit the ground running in 2017.” —N.F.

Niall Horan, Title TBD, Summer TBD

The One Direction member grew up listening to classic rock acts like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, so it makes sense that he’d mine that sound for his first solo effort. “Whenever I would pick up a guitar, I would always naturally play chords like that and fingerpick a lot [in] that kind of folkie style,” he says. After writing the material on piano and guitar, Horan worked with session musicians to realize his songs. And while he says the collection has a “folk-with-pop feel to it,” there are plugged-in moments: “Some of the songs are heavier than others.… I found it so interesting to watch those [session musicians] do it. We played around a lot with percussion stuff to build up the songs so there were a lot of things going on.” —J.G.

Erykah Badu Performs At The Warfield
Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Erykah Badu, Title TBD, Date TBD

The R&B-soul queen has two new projects in the pipeline for the new year. Badu is prepping a collaborative EP with the breakout rapper D.R.A.M., after the duo collaborated on “WiFi,” from his debut album Big Baby D.R.A.M.. And she’s also working on a follow-up to her 2015 mixtape But You Caint Use My Phone. “I’m enjoying the process of re-creation,” Badu told EW in Nov. “The universe is re-creating me right now.”

Kelsea Ballerini, Title TBD, Date TBD

Don’t expect the Grammy-nominated country breakout to dial things down after releasing her rousing debut, The First Time. “It’ll be bolder and more ‘me,’” she says. Lyrically, Ballerini — who’s dating Australian country artist Morgan Evans — is promising more autobiographical confessionals. “I think its going to be one third breakup record, one third growing-up record, and a third falling-in-love record. It’s about the last two years of my life.” —M.V.

The Chainsmokers, Title TBD, Date TBD

After dominating 2016 with hits like “Closer” and “Don’t Let Me Down,” the duo are hoping to re-create that pop magic with new material in 2017. “We write a lot about friendships and romantic relationships,” says singer Drew Taggart. “We’re homing in on a style that’s ours, and we want to make 10 to 12 songs like that.” Adds Alex Pall, “We want to give people more of a clear vision of who we are.” —J.G.

94th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Kelly Clarkson, Title TBD, Date TBD

With a new home at Atlantic Records, 
the pop star is embracing a fresh sound inspired by R&B and soul music. “I’ve actually always wanted to make this album,” she told EW in Sept. “We don’t need to hear ‘Stronger’ again, or ‘Since U Been Gone.’ It’s time for something else.” Longtime fans shouldn’t worry, though: Clarkson said her next set 
of songs will take her back to her American Idol days, when she regularly covered the likes of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. During conversations with her team at Atlantic, Clarkson explained, “I was like, ‘Look, this isn’t different. This is what the people voted for.’” So far, she’s finding inspiration in some unlikely places: One song, which addresses domestic violence, was inspired by the character Celeste from Liane Moriarty’s novel Big Little Lies. Said Clarkson, “It feels like I’m a brand-new artist again.” —N.F., with reporting by Isabella Biedenharn

Dreamcar, Title TBD, Date TBD

Supergroup alert! No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont, and Adrian Young are teaming with AFI frontman Davey Havok for a new side project. The crew came together in 2014 and bonded over their love of ‘80s new wave and new romantic music. “It was obvious early on that we had something, and it felt really exciting,” says Young. “It really was one of the most amazingly organic experiences — and Davey’s voice is mind-blowing!” As for the status of No Doubt, Young says they’re still going strong. “I don’t think it affects the future of 
 No Doubt at all. This is just what we are doing at the moment.” —K.O.

Fergie, Double Dutchess, Date TBD

The Black Eyed Peas singer recently apologized to fans for the wait for her second solo album — her first in more than a decade. “I’ve turned it in, it’s done, and it’s coming out beginning of the year, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long,” Fergie said in an Instagram video. “I’ve got a kid and a husband and I just need to sleep and I just really cared about it.” Expect club-ready tracks like the provocative single “M.I.L.F. $,” as well as a more emotional cuts like “Love Is Pain,” which she wrote with “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)” collaborator Toby Gad. “It’s all over the map because if it wasn’t,” she recently told People, “that wouldn’t be true to who I am.” —N.F.

Icona Pop, Title TBD, Date TBD
Since breaking out with “I Love It” in 2012, the Swedish pop duo has kept busy touring with the likes of One Direction and Katy Perry — a little too busy if you ask them. “We love being out on the road doing what we love, but it came to a point where we were like, ‘We need to write some new music,’” Caroline Hjelt told EW in Nov. So they cleared their schedules and holed up in the studio to reconnect as a band and process the last few years. “We needed to decide for ourselves where we were and what we wanted to write about,” Aino Jawo said of the follow-up to 2013’s This Is…Icona Pop. “We’ve gone back to what Icona Pop was from the beginning: raw, dirty sounds, [a little] slower.” —N.F.

Lorde, Title TBD, Date TBD

On the eve of her 20th birthday, the New Zealand singer-songwriter posted a lengthy note about her hugely anticipated new album on Facebook. “I want nothing more than to spill my guts RIGHT NOW about the whole thing,” she said. “I want you to see the album cover, [pour] over the lyrics (the best I’ve written in my life), touch the mercy, experience the live show. I can hardly stop myself from typing out the name.” Of course, she stopped short of revealing the title and other specifics, only offering her fans the promise that the LP would arrive “soon.” —M.V.

Credit: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Julia Michaels, Title TBD, Date TBD

She’s only 23 years-old, but Julia Michaels is already one of pop’s most sought-after hitmakers. Along with writing partner Justin Tranter, she’s minted such Top 40 gold as Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Selena Gomez’s “Hands to Myself,” and nearly every track on Gwen Stefani’s latest solo LP, This Is What the Truth Feels Like. But until recently, Michaels didn’t think she could cut it as an artist herself. “I’m not a confident person,” she says. “I didn’t believe in myself enough 
 to do it.”

That changed after she wrote “Issues,” a simmering, string-driven track about owning your insecurities that’s also her debut single, arriving in January. “It was the first time I had written a song that felt so much like myself that I couldn’t picture anyone else singing it,” she says. Helping her make the transition: encouragement from the artists she’s worked with. “Selena’s always been very supportive, and so has Hailee [Steinfeld],” she says. “Every woman that I’ve worked with has been so supportive. They just want 
everyone to win and be happy. They’re 
 not competitive or jealous people.”

The journey to her first major-label EP, due in early 2017, hasn’t been without challenges. Michaels, who has put out a handful of EPs on indies, had to fight to keep “Issues” for 
 herself. “There were definitely a lot of people that wanted that song,” she says. “A lot of people were surprised I wanted to do this all of a sudden because I had been so [reluctant to become an artist] for such a long time.” 
 And though she has an impressive track record as a songwriter, Michaels knows she has to prove herself all over again as an artist. It’s why she says we shouldn’t expect any of her famous collaborators to make guest appearances anytime soon. “I don’t want to ask for favors,“ she says. “I want to work for it. I want to earn it.” —N.F.

Katy Perry, Title TBD, Date TBD

Back in 2015, Katy Perry’s manger said the pop star’s fourth album would be out by 2016. That didn’t happen, of course, but the follow-up to 2013’s Prism appears to be finally on its way — the singer recently shared two snippets of new music on her Snapchat. She’s also been tweeting studio updates via her Twitter account, where she promised big plans for the new year. “Ok back to the studio for me,” she wrote in October. “2017 is gonna [be] tight af.” —N.F.

2016 Life Is Beautiful Festival - Day 1
Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

The Shins, Title TBD, Date TBD

Eighteen months ago, Shins leader James Mercer holed up in the converted-carriage-house studio of his Portland, Ore., home to begin work on his group’s anticipated fifth album. After collaborating with producer Greg Kurstin (Adele) and enduring a lineup change for 2012’s Port of Morrow, Mercer had one specific goal this time. “I wanted to do something more handmade,” says the 45-year-old. “I wanted to get back into the production and engineering side of the work as well as the writing.” With Mercer’s vision firmly established, he has created the Shins’ most adventurous album yet: The record’s 11 tracks veer wildly from dense, Beach Boys-style arrangements and arpeggiated synthesizer melodies to breezy country-tinged balladry. Mercer, who produced the set, had such fun experimenting that he says the band — including new touring guitarist Mark Watrous — recorded alternate versions of each track, “[just] to see what might happen.” He says, “It turned out the songs were cool either way. So, production is important, but songwriting still rules the day.” —M.V.

Justin Timberlake, Title TBD, Date TBD

Justin Timberlake’s Trolls earworm “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” was his poppiest, most immediate single in years. Now, his fifth studio album appears to be following suit. “I wouldn’t say [my new material] is the antithesis of 20/20, but it does sound more singular,” he told Variety this fall. “If 20/20 sounded like it literally surrounds your entire head, this stuff feels more like it just punches you between the eyes.” He’s already spent several weeks in the studio with Pharrell, who told the publication they had at least six great tracks in the can. But Timberlake, as usual, is taking his time. He told EW in Sept. “I guess I’m resigned to the fact that I’m a tortoise when it comes to this process. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.” —N.F.

Big Sean, TBD, TBD

For his fourth studio LP, the rapper is 
aiming high with an album inspired 
by the idea of rebirth. He has so far shared “Bounce Back,” “No More Interviews,” and “Living Single,” which features Chance the Rapper and Jeremih. —M.V.

Betty Who, Title TBD, Date TBD
For her second album, the Australian electro-pop singer is moving beyond what she calls the “I’m a romantic and I’m always broken-hearted” theme that dominated her 2014 debut. “I want to show more of myself,” she told EW last summer. “If I’m angry, be angry. If I’m sad, be sad. If I want to feel sexy, I want to do that specifically.” And while she still recorded the bulk of the album with longtime producer Peter Thomas, she also branched out and logged studio time with hit songwriters like Justin Tranter (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez) and MNEK (Madonna, Zara Larsson). “It was like speed dating for songwriting,” she says. “I’ve experimented a lot.” —N.F.