The best albums of 2015 – so far

Bob Dylan

January

Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love A return to form for the reunited riot grrrl pioneers, filled to capacity with their signature crunching guitars and breathless, animated vocals.

Björk: Vulnicura
Imagine the crushing blow of a devastating heartbreak. Add jittery electronic beats, Björk’s powerful voice and a string section, and you’ve just about got a sense of the latest album from Iceland’s reigning queen of experimental pop.

Music video for Lionsong by Björk

Mark Ronson: Uptown Special
This funk-inspired album sticks with Ronson’s tried-and-tested slick production, and features guest appearances by Stevie Wonder and author Michel Chabon.

Natalie Prass: Natalie Prass
Lushly orchestrated and elegantly arranged pop, steeped in Americana and soulful nostalgia.

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith: Club Meds
Experimental rock from the Canadian singer-songwriter and his matching bearded band.

Belle and Sebastian: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Once considered shorthand for anything twee and indie, Belle and Sebastian throw disco flourishes and dry humour into this ninth studio album.

Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
More of the playful, psychedelia-inspired and experimental music we’ve come to expect from the Animal Collective band member’s solo project.

February

Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night
Dylan tries his hand at a series of Sinatra-affiliated old standards from the Great America Songbook – unexpected, but lovely.

Music video for The Night We Called it A Day by Bob Dylan

Jessica Pratt: On Your Own Love Again
Delicate, folksy songs from the LA-based singer-songwriter, on her second album.

Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear
Navel-gazing yet potent songwriting from former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, under his Misty moniker.

Viet Cong: Viet Cong
Guitar squalls and pounding drums abound on this debut full-length release from the Canadian post-punk band.

Susanne Sundfør: Ten Love Songs
A collection of beautifully crafted songs, in that trusted tradition of emotive and euphoric Scandinavian pop.

Music video for Fade Away by Susanne Sundfør

Drake: If You’re Reading This, it’s Too Late
Self-reflection mingles with bravado on this bass-heavy surprise release from the Canadian rapper.

Nikki Lane: All or Nothin’
Lane huskily addresses heartbreak and lust on lap steel guitar-heavy songs.

March

Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
A crushingly personal collection of acoustic guitar-led songs tackling Stevens’s childhood and the death of his mother.

Fantasma: Free Love
An ebullient release from the South African band, spanning kwaito, Zulu folk and electronic music.

Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Barnett can turn the most seemingly mundane topics – house-hunting, insomnia or swimming in a public pool – into scuzzy, indie-pop demonstrations of lyrical prowess.

Courtney Barnett performs Pedestrian at Best live in a Guardian music session

Marina and the Diamonds: Froot
Tight electropop steeped in introspection from the Welsh singer-songwriter, on this third album.

Matthew E White: Fresh Blood
The Spacebomb record label and studio founder mines soul sensibilities on this beautifully produced second album.

Pops Staples: Don’t Lose This
The blues master’s last set of recordings, released years after his death and featuring his daughter Mavis on backing vocal duties.

Marc Almond: The Velvet Trail
Big-chorus pop from the former Soft Cell frontman, still comfortably making music in his own right.

Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly
A dense and powerful album, spanning jazz, funk and neo-soul influences while tackling both personal and social politics.

April

Nadine Shah: Fast Food
A passionate and intense album, marked by Shah’s distinctive, resonant alto voice and piercing electric guitar riffs.

Music video for Fool by Nadine Shah

Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
Moody and introspective rap verses over jittery, self-produced beats on the Odd Future crew member’s latest.

East India Youth: Culture of Volume
A bold and expansive exploration of the limits of experimental pop with a synth-driven edge.

Blur: The Magic Whip
After 12 years away, the Britpop four-piece return for this unexpected release that turns some loose jam sessions in Hong Kong into a joyful reunion.

Wire: Wire
It took 14 albums for the post-punk pioneers to opt for an eponymous release, and Wire – poppy and self-assured – doesn’t disappoint.

Young Fathers: White Men Are Black Men Too
A defiantly pop-driven release from the experimental, Mercury prize-winning Scottish trio.

Young Fathers perform the single Shame live in a Guardian music session

Stealing Sheep: Not Real
Moving away from their so-called pagan-pop debut, the Liverpudlian trio sweep into sparkling, synth-laden artpop territory.

Bop English: Constant Bop
The White Denim frontman chucks a mix of sonic influences at the wall on this eclectic debut.

Listen to a selection of songs from the best albums released between January and April, using the Spotify player below:

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