The best albums of 2019
A record year
The 10 greatest albums of 2019 included the work of a classic-rock icon, a bold and independent singer/rapper, a troubadour, a next-gen pop star, and more. Read ahead to check out the full list.
10. Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars
Few artists pair broad vision and intimate character detail with as balanced a hand as the Boss, who reminds us that redemption is possible and the land of hope and dreams can be a real place. —Sarah Rodman
9. Lana Del Rey — Norman F---ing Rockwell!
Del Rey takes her celebration and subversion of all things Americana — blue jeans, Coca-Cola, apple pie — on a loop round Laurel Canyon, co-opting the name of a painter synonymous with small-town innocence to spin her orchestral tales of slippery men, Cinnamon Girls, and all the bad-romance wreckage in between. —Leah Greenblatt
8. Thom Yorke, ANIMA
Who better to soundtrack this anxious, technologically omniscient era than the Radiohead leader? His third solo LP is a nervy, haunting, and gorgeous attempt at making sense of the noise around us. —Alex Suskind
7. Jenny Lewis, On the Line
Do they even make real troubadors anymore? If they did, Lewis would be their jukebox queen, the patron saint of sad-eyed ladies, long empty highways, and tarnished rhinestones. In a voice as rich as whiskey, she tells the tales only a woman who’s lived and learned and loved (sometimes too much, sometimes not enough) could know. —LG
6. Brittany Howard, Jaime
The Alabama Shakes frontwoman heads into new territory— vocally, lyrically, musically, and emotionally — on this hazy, genre-bending solo record that is both intensely personal and achingly universal. —SR
5. Tyler, the Creator, Igor
Told through the eyes of his blond-bewigged alter ego, Igor showcases Tyler’s repeated interest in defying conventions, this time through a mix of jangling keys, lowend synths, and melancholic hooks. —AS
4. The Highwomen, The Highwomen
Individually, Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, and Amanda Shires are formidable artists. Pooling their strengths in this supergroup creates a Voltron that radiates heart, humor, and high times. —SR
3. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You
By infusing broader pop sensibilities with what she’s always excelled at — boisterous vocals, quick-fire bars, an unending supply of female empowerment — Lizzo finally became the star she was supposed to be. —AS
2. Billie Eilish, when we all fall asleep, where do we go?
Born three months after 9/11, Eilish might be the new millenium’s first true pop superstar: a preternaturally gifted songwriter steeped in all the freeform anxiety and excess of the 21st century, churning out insidious darkwave bops from her Los Angeles bedroom. If this is what teen spirit smells like in 2019, the kids are more than alright. —LG
1. Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride
Behold: the rock star in Tevas. He’s moved to Los Angeles. He’s become a dad. He’s worried about our changing planet but content with the way his own life has played out. It’s all there on Vampire Weekend’s airy, optimistic fourth LP, one where frontman Ezra Koenig — the aforementioned man in sandals, which he’s sported throughout FOTB’s promotional cycle — conveys a tale of acceptance in the face of change. Set against the backdrop of the band’s usual melting-pot approach (the Grateful Dead riffs of “Harmony Hall,” the Melanesian choral samples of “Hold You Now,” the freak folk of “Sympathy”), this catchy and sprawling double record not only speaks to our current era of upheaval better than any other release in 2019, it serves as a balm. —AS