Janelle Monáe The Electric Lady (September 10) With the Erykah Badu-featuring neo-soul/hip-hop sassfest “Q.U.E.E.N.” already causing a stir, it’s clear Monáe isn’t taking chances with the success of her second album. Need more proof? Besides Badu, The Electric Lady’s guests include Solange, Miguel and Prince(!).
The Roots & Elvis Costello Wise Up Ghost (September 17) In Costello’s long and storied career, the biting bard has collaborated with dozens of diverse musicians, so it kinda makes sense he’s working with The Roots, another group that thrives creatively during unexpected collaborations.
Icona Pop This Is… Icona Pop (September 24) Thanks to the mega-smash “I Love It,” the Swedish synth-pop duo’s debut has been gathering buzz for months. New tune “All Night” sounds like Tegan and Sara working with Euro-pop music producers; in other words, it has a gigantic hook grafted to pulsating beats and dancefloor-ready electronics.
Chvrches The Bones of What You Believe (September 24) These Scots have climbed to the top of the indie-pop heap behind their ethereal ’80s keyboards, a shard-like rhythmic foundation and frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s winsome vocals. The group’s debut builds on that promise by including new songs and some of their much-loved “old” tunes.
Lorde Pure Heroine (September 30) After unleashing the monster hit “Royals”—where pop’s hedonistic fantasies collide with a teenager’s more modest suburban reality—this 16-year-old New Zealand songwriter isn’t wasting time releasing a full-length. Expect self-aware lyrics, minimalist beats influenced by hip-hop and electro and a voice that sounds soulful, innocent and wounded.
Deltron 3030 Deltron 3030: Event II (October 1) In a musical fluke, Deltron 3030’s core musicians—Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala—found great success with Gorillaz in 2001, the year after their own influential debut record landed. Thirteen years later, the space-age hip-hop group’s second album sounds just as forward-thinking, laid-back and smart: Set in 3040, it tackles such topics as Occupy Wall Street and economic uncertainty.
Panic! At the Disco Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! (October 8) In light of drummer Spencer Smith’s bombshell about his addictions and trips to rehab, the band’s Hunter S. Thompson-derived album title—and lyrics inspired by, among other things, clubbing in Vegas—seem somewhat ill-timed. But musically, Panic!’s fourth album is very of-the-moment; in fact, it seems to be going for the Top-40 jugular, embracing hip-pop (the beat-heavy “Miss Jackson”) and Fall Out Boy-plated electro (“This Is Gospel”).
Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt (October 15) Who says elder rock ’n’ roll statesmen have to be well-mannered? Not Pearl Jam, which teased studio album No. 10 with thrashing punk tune “Mind Your Manners.” Still, with longtime producer Brendan O’Brien at the helm, fans can expect a balance of delicacy and heft.
Katy Perry Prism (October 22) How will music’s reigning sugar-pop queen follow up 2010’s multiplatinum Teenage Dream? By continuing to push her sound—and lyrics—forward: First single “Roar” is full of self-empowerment and kicky keyboards, while a teaser snippet of “Walking on Air” is pure ’90s Euro-techno cheese.
Arcade Fire tbd (October 29) The new Arcade Fire album is shrouded in secrecy. Besides the fact that LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy worked on part of the record at his New York studio—and that the band is doing something at 9 p.m. on September 9—the musical and lyrical direction remains a complete question mark. For the ever-ambitious Grammy winners, such mystery only heightens the excitement.
Lady Gaga Artpop (November 11) Queen Gaga has been low-key as of late (especially for her), thanks to hip surgery and the birth of her fourth studio album. Naturally, Artpop’s first single comes out swinging and clamors for attention: “Applause” is a theatrical, cabaret-like celebration about craving the spotlight, with German techno-pop leanings and an energized ’80s exercise-pop backbone.
Also: Arctic Monkeys, AM (September 10); Factory Floor, Factory Floor (September 10); Kaskade, Atmosphere (September 10); MGMT, MGMT (September 17); Drake, Nothing Was the Same (September 24); Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull (September 24); Moby, Innocents (October 1); Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience: Part 2 (October 1); Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (November 5); M.I.A., Matangi (November 5).