Top 16 Metal Records Of 2017

I tried my best to keep this list to a round number, like an increment of 5, but I just couldn’t help it. There are 16 records that I needed to tell you about and I couldn’t cut a single one from the list.

There’s way more doom/sludge than I expected, and while I tried to branch out from the big labels, I couldn’t help it too much, so save for the couple self released ones, there’s not a lot of surprises on here. Doesn’t matter, though. IT’S ALL AWESOME.

Since the previous list (Top 10 (Not Drone Or Metal) Records) didn’t have embedded streams, I made a Spotify playlist due to popular demand. But when I went to make a playlist for this list, it was missing numbers 16, 12, 10, 4, & 3, because Spotify sucks and that was too many. So while I still made the playlist, I also embedded a streaming song for everything on this list. I also went back and did the same for the previous list.

As always: Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for making incredible music.

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Album Review

Top 20 Metal Records Of 2016

I did it! I made another list. I didn’t think it would happen, but it happened. No more lists, though. This is the last one for 2016.

Lots of black metal this year. And I mean lots. But it’s all A+ Amazing. I didn’t hear too much doom (or rather too much premium doom) this year, but, again the doom that was good was really fucking good. There’s tons of weird shit in here that pushes the limits of metal that you should come to expect from my metal lists. Also, I gotta say I’m surprised at the amount of color found on these album covers. 10 of them feature full multi-colored artwork and even more toss in some non-greyscale-but-still-monochromatic flair.

I did something that some of you may find treasonous. I have 2 records tied for first place. So, technically, this is a Top 21 list, but whatever. I spent way too long (like, weeks, maybe even months?) trying to decide which of the two I loved more and just couldn’t settle on one answer for more than a few days. And when I was putting this post together I realized “fuck it, there’s no reason I need to choose one over the other” and thus the Tied For Number 1 spot was born. I’m happy about it and you should be too.

As usual, I try to keep the big names/labels off the list because I’m definitely not a metal blog and I’m sure you all know that The Body, Ash Borer, SubRosa, Cough, ColdWorld, and Primitive Man put out truly outstanding records this year. You don’t need another site to tell you how good they are.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for making incredible music.

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Album Review

Top 30 Drone Records Of 2016

I did it! I made a list. I didn’t think it would happen being a new dad and all, but it happened. I’m going to try to make a Top Metal list too, but no promises.

At 30 entries, this is the longest Top Drone list I’ve made. But I’ve been eschewing reviews lately and focusing on AGB Radio and A Thick Mist, so I figure 30 is acceptable if you count how many records I’ve directly recommended over the past year.

I seem to continually expand my definition of what a Drone Record is, which means there’s probably a few on here that are stretching the confines of that label, but I still did my best to try to keep it as Drone as possible.

There’s plenty of reoccurring themes in here. Namely, lots of voices/singing (11 have vocals present at least somewhere on the record) and lots of organs & harmoniums. Neither of those are all that surprising, though. But there’s two solo records from drummers, so that’s kinda cool. There’s also two heavily inspired by traditional Indian music, also kinda cool.

I had fun with this one. I changed a few things up this year. First, I decided to exclude any artist that’s been on any previous list. This meant no Saåad, Roly Porter, Andrew Weathers, Sarah Davachi, Mamiffer, Ian William Craig, Danny Paul Grody, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, etc. (Seriously though go listen to the new Saåad and Mamiffer records.) No one likes to see the same people on such a niche list over and over again, so this was a good way to keep things new and exciting.

The other thing I decided to do was not rank this in the traditional way. Instead, I put the records in positions 7-30 into four groups of six, and the records within each group aren’t ranked. So that means the records in group 7-12 aren’t ranked, aside from me liking them more than the previous 13-30 drone records. I did this except for the top 6, which are ranked traditionally. I hope it’s not too confusing.

As usual, I try to keep the Big Droners off this list because anyone who’s a fan of drone probably already knows that Eluvium and Tim Hecker put out records this year and while their music is A+ Amazing, they don’t really need a little DIY blog to help them out.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for making incredible music.

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Album Review

Top 15 Metal Records Of 2015

I’ve reviewed a decent amount of metal records, I’ve made four Black (Metal) Mixmas mixes, and last year’s non-genre list had a few metal records in it, but I’ve never done a full metal-only list (except for the little thing in Black (Metal) Mixmas IV), so I hope this doesn’t seem too out of place, but honestly I listen to wayyyyy more metal than I ever write about on AGB, so this sort of makes up for that I guess. I’m not as deep into the metal scene as I am the drone one, so I’m sure there’s way more awesome obscure metal records that would’ve made it onto this list had I heard them, but whatever. If you’ve got any recs, let me know in the comments or email!

And in case you’re not a huge metal fan, know that there’s plenty of stuff on this list that A: is only debatably metal (see: numbers 15, 13, 12, 1) and B: has plenty of AGB friendly elements aka drone, noise, etc (see: numbers 9, 6, 5, 4, 1).

Have fun. Thanks for reading/listening/appreciating.


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Album Review

Top 10 Collaborative Drone Records Of 2015

There was so much amazing fucking music this year, I had to put together not one, not two, but FOUR lists, this is the first of em, and it’s a fuckin doozy, since there were wayyyy too many killer drone records, I split it up and made a more niche list of drone collaborations, and as usual, this isn’t even all of em. My main rule for this list was that the collaborations had to be people working together for the first time, so the new From The Mouth Of The Sun was out. And since I didn’t review any of these originally, I can’t link you to the review which has a streaming song, which is why I decided to include a song for each of these.

Have fun. Thanks for reading/listening/appreciating.


UPDATE: I have no idea how I didn’t realize that EUS, Postdrome, & Saåad broke the only rule I had for this list. I didn’t even realize it when I was linking to my previous Top Drone list from 2012 that had their first record. So, oops. I’m an asshole and I’m sorry.


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Album Review

William Cody Watson – Seafoam (self released / No Kings, 2014)

william cody watson - seafoam album cover
William Cody WatsonSeafoam (self released / No Kings)

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William Cody Watson is easily one of the most underrated and underrepresented bliss droners, and Seafoam is his final release, not as in he’s going on to make music using another moniker, he’s just done, no more music as WCW or Pink Priest or Gremlynz or Malibu Wands or any other name, but he’s going out on the fucking top with this one and he corralled thee High Aura’d to contribute some field recordings and piano, so this is a fuckin brilliant piece of sound, with gorgeous cascading harmonies and slow shifting tones that glow like angel choirs descending from a cracked open Cecil B. DeMille sky, the light of the world shining straight into your heart, and low sober minimalism, pulled out from your deep aching core and rapt in endless sorrows, melancholic & resigned, not admitting defeat but acknowledging reality, with long stretches of unsteadiness, the trembling anxiety before plunging into the unknown, and hoping it turns out ok, this is tender and glorious and just absolutely fucking magnificent, and you get your choice of digital, which Watson released back in January, or tape, which No Kings just dropped.

Album Review

Sun Splitter – Time Cathedral (self released, 2014)

sun splitter - time cathedral album cover
Sun SplitterDesistance (Sun Splitter)

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These Chicago dudes aren’t gettin the love they deserve. They’ve been at it for years (check out reviews of II and III) making consistently awesome dark demented psych doom, and their newest is a beast of a record, charging through the emptiness of space, destroying everything in its path, seeking Truth, this is some heavy weirdness that takes from industrial, noise, and drone just as easily as it does Lovecraft and Hawking, long riff heavy grooves that build into swirling chants, methodical and explosive arcs of abyssal rock, creeping, plodding, fuckin ugly, and heavily spiritual, worshiping the almighty Infinity, these songs are the mystic rituals aiming to cross through dimensions, reaching that which is unknown, and fuckin dooming it up real hard along the way. This will be primarily a digital release (available next week, along with a poster if you’d like) but there’s going to be a super limited CD-R version available only at the release show in Chicago at The Empty Bottle on January 5th. So, you know, that’s probably worth the hike if Chicago is in your general vicinity.

Out of Print

October OOPs: Light – A Million Dead Beneath The Ice (self released, 2008)

light - a million dead beneath the ice album cover

Download A Million Dead Beneath The Ice

Before the folks in Book Of Sand were doing that avant black metal thing, they were doing this avant doom thing as Light. They put out three releases, and A Million Dead Beneath The Ice was the first, it came packaged in white folded paper with a bit of menstrual blood order cialis and viagra smeared on it, and the music was just fucking ridiculous, menacing faux organ, wall of static distortion, glacial hollow percussion, and tortured howling from the depths of hell, this is a slow droning slab of noisy old school doom with a tinge of Americana thrown in on the last song, absolutely horrific stuff, it’s perfect.

Album Review

Foie Gras – Held (self released, 2014)

foie gras - held album cover
Foie GrasWants You In That Way (self released)

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Foie Gras is one strong, tender force hailing from San Francisco who makes music in the subtlest ways. She’s as yet released a physical record under this name, instead gifting us with free downloads on her Bandcamp (although I think there’s something tangible in the works), and you would do well to hit up each and every one of her albums (currently two available in addition to Held) as she is prone to taking them down whenever she fancies, and this is one is especially special, with a couple covers (Sparklehorse’s “Heart Of Darkness” and Heroin Party’s “Summoning Ritual”), and a slow-mo drifting drone, a welcome smothering of soft thick fog that moves effortlessly through you, blank of all emotion on the surface but digging deeper shows this is lined with an almost imperceptible but undeniable void, a bittersweet minimalism under a thin veil of devastation, frequently singing of death & suffering but always from the most delicate perspective, including the intimate Chelsea Wolfe-esque acoustic closer “Cliffs” where she croons “This is why we can’t have nice things, this is why I’ve destroyed my being, and this how you prolong the suffering,” this is the brightest dark music I’ve ever heard, and it’s just fucking outstanding, a painfully doomed record that floats above and rests in the ether bliss, truly excellent shit that makes me wonder how she’s not at the top of the drone chain, so maybe you can do you part and give this a listen, it’ll stay with you forever.

Album Review

Halfway Through 2014: Look At All These Killer Fucking Records I Missed

No need to rehash the stuff I’ve already written about with a mid-year best of list. Once a year is plenty. And sometimes (ok all the time) it’s hard to keep up with all the supremely excellent releases that come out. And sometimes it’s easier to just bang out a bunch of mini(ish) reviews all at once so I don’t feel like I’m trapped under a stack of promos that’s ready to cave in on me. So here’s the awesome shit that came out this year (one was originally released on CD last year but put out on vinyl this year so whatever) that I didn’t have time to get around to. Each and every one of these is fantastic enough to have deserved their own individual review but oh well, so it’s likely more than one of these will end up on my year end Top Drone list. And while some of these records have already gotten more than enough coverage elsewhere, they’re all just too good for me to ignore. But I’m sure you’ll be able to find some stuff in here you haven’t heard yet.

Also, if record on here was self released, chances are it’s available for pay what you can on Bandcamp, so get excited.

The technically unranked list of 20 is below the jump so as not to clog up the front page.


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Album Review

Cinchel – A House Once Lived That Never Was (self released, 2014)

cinchel - A House Once Lived That Never Was album cover
CinchelFalling Asleep In The Big Blanket, Waking Up With snow Falling Outside The Bedroom Window (self released)

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Chicago’s Cinchel (aka Jason Shanley) has been slowly but steadily releasing super solid guitar drone records for the past few years, flying a bit under the radar for reasons unknown because this dude consistently knocks it out of the park and his newest release is no different. A House Once Lived That Never Was is like an hour and a half or something (according to my quick & sloppy math) and it’s all killer no filler tender ambient that’s as organic as Mountains used to be and as heartfelt as Andrew Weathers, taking a guitar and a tape delay and coaxing out the softest most delicate sounds, looped & dusty, droned & drifty, like chilling in a creaky house during a summer rain and listening to the air come alive, hypnotic strumming lulling you to a dreamland of pure perfection, this is absolutely wonderful stuff, and it comes with a 25 page color zine of photos taken by Shanley and his wife Kirstie (she’s really good). The digital version is out now (which includes a PDF of the zine) and the physical version will be out late May/early June.

Haiku Review

Haunted Disco – Enter Through The Exit (self released, 2013)

haunted disco - enter through the exit album cover
Haunted DiscoParadigm (self released)

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Download Enter Through The Exit
/murky dream rhythms/
/chill party time on cloud nine/
/sexxxed up bedroom pop/

Album Review

K’an – Anima (self released, 2013)

k'an - anima album cover
K’anThe Tree In The Garden Of Limbs (self released)

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One truly fucking astounding record from out of nowhere. This Roman dude takes digital drone to another level, already playing in the same court as Tim Hecker, this thing is bursting at the seams with organic life & deep emotion and it’s only his first goddamn record. Entire solar systems of detail blossom out of each song and as a whole, Anima is a universe teaming with a rare dark beauty. K’an gifts us with a gritty textured drone that sounds fresh & familiar all at once, taking an already glorious sound and infusing it with an original brilliance. Thick sheets of stuttering static cover everything, competing for your attention with bleak hypnotic drones, weaving a bittersweet tapestry peppered with glitchy smoke, ethereal distorted vocals, and buzzing heart ache, it heaves with hidden rhythms and builds to staggering & overwhelming epiphanies, leaving you drenched in a pool of your own blood, sweat, & tears. This is not a record to be fucking trifled with. Maximum awesomeness that’ll leave your jaw on the floor. I honestly can’t get enough of this. It’s easy to say now that my Top Drone list of 2013 is done and over with, but I 100% guarantee Anima would’ve been on the list had I heard it in time. And I forgot to mention, this is currently digital only and you can pay what you want for it right here.

Album Review

In The Meantime Part 2: Bad Dreams

The second part (of a two parter, this is it. ICYMI: part 1) of what I’ve been blasting the fuck out of for the past few months. Here lie the black, doomed, & loud as hell records that are front to back awesome.
hope drone album cover
Hope DroneHope Drone (OSCL)

100% killer post black metal out of Australia, blistering & furious with raspy roaring vocals and a grim outlook set to annihilate you that’s not very often seen in the Cascadian stuff, it’s low on the shimmer (though it’s there a bit) and heavy on the heavy.
sadhaka - terma album cover
SadhakaTerma (Pest / Sick Man Getting Sick)

Super fucking awesome USBM band that sadly only got their record released overseas. This is some insane post everything shit, a little post metalcore here, a little post black metal there, but monstrous through & through, thick atmospheres, major dark riffs that are admittedly a bit catchy, but when this thing explodes, it’s so beastly, vocals sounding like they’re being echoed out of a bottomless abyss and spot on heart attack beats. Been playing this one almost nonstop since I found it.
quttinirpaaq - no visitors album cover
QuttinirpaaqNo Visitors (Rural Isolation Project)

Hands down the weirdest record in this list, these guys have churned out some gruesome industrial sludge that sounds like it was scraped from the bottom of an evaporated acid bath and splattered up against bass heavy grooves & rusted iron drum beats, gritty & heavy as fuck with a Bachelor’s degree in bombastic noise punk and a minor in scorched psych, something a freakish cult would dance to as they burn you alive in your fevered hallucinations.
old witch - come mourning come album cover
Old WitchCome Mourning Come (self released)

Holy fuck this is one huge goddamn record, the most perfect blending of doom, black metal, & drone I’ve heard in a long time, monstrous drums & earth rattling guitars that will tear the fucking world apart as we all fall into the pits of hell, and definitely a Carpenter/horror score vibe with backing synths that turn this into a brutally tense nightmare. Hands down of of my favorites this year.
surachai - embraced album cover
SurachaiEmbraced (self released)

This one came out of nowhere and it fuckin rules, just one dude who enlisted a bunch of pals to flesh things out and give this a truly overwhelming sound, Embraced is some next level shit, complex wall of sound black metal that’s super fuckin precise, tight tremolo shredding on top of a controlled chaos of percussion a la Zach Hill or Greg Fox, this is nonstop amazing.
peste noire album cover
Peste NoirePeste Noire (La Mesnie Herlequin)

Forget all those shoegazey French black metal bands, Peste Noire is the Frenchest black metal there is and they’re the fucking best. Their newest record eschews a lot of the black metal norms and takes on a heavy dose of punk & cabaret styles, both of which I normally hate, but for some reason the accordion, xylophone, classical acoustic guitar, spit in your face vocals, and all the other non-BM sounds on here get folded in with the blast beats & buzzing guitars and end up making the craziest, noisiest, coolest fucking (mostly) black metal record.
when woods make graves - whispers from the black lake album cover
When Woods Make GravesWhispers From The Black Lake (self released)

Solo British dude who’s pretty prolific, cites my favorite classics (Burzum, Paysage D’Hiver, Weakling, etc) as influences, and makes his shit free* for the taking, there’s no reason not to love him already. But his records are incredible and his most recent one is no different, with 6 tracks (4 of which break the 14 minute mark) churning out guitar squalls & murky atmospheres, overwhelming in every way, he’s just as good at making lengthy devastating epics as he is switching out his guitar for some synths and laying down massive bleak drones.
hivelords - cavern apothecary album cover
HivelordsCavern Apothecary (Anthropic)

Some fearsome shit right here, these Philly dudes spill fresh blood in the blackened doom arena, frenzied blast beats & killer fucking riffs b/w a slow plodding death march & clean majestic vocals, at once black, heavy, doomed, & pure fucking evil, these guys have a path to the Dark Throne laid out right in front of them.
charnel house - black blood album cover
Charnel HouseBlack Blood (Sygil)

A record unlike any other, this is some sort of beautifully dark atmospheric black metal, but not the kind you’re thinking of, this is a record straight out of a haunted house, eerie guitars & bass jamming a fucked up atmosphere while some ghost lady seduces you to the Underworld, lurching drums that rise up from the basement to burst out in flaming blast beats. I don’t know what depths this came from but I both hope I never find it and am pissed I’m not there already.
cultes des ghoules - henbane album cover
Cultes Des GhoulsHenbane (Hells Headbangers)

A truly twisted black metal record, equal parts thrashy, heavy, and fucked, this is grizzly necro show with dual vocals that howl & groan, debased buzzing riffs, start & stop drums, crazy samples, a candlelit graveyard stomp, the kind of shit that Satan himself rocks to.

Album Review

In The Meantime Part 1: Good Dreams

Just because I stopped writing for a bit doesn’t mean I stopped listening. Actually felt like I did way more listening than usual, or maybe it was just more quality listening without the review cloud storming up in my brain. Either way, here’s a quick rundown of some chill records I’ve been jamming these past few months. Part 2 will be the louder noisier scarier stuff.
danny paul grody - between two worlds album cover
Danny Paul GrodyBetween Two Worlds (Three Lobed)
Omfg this is one of my favorites from this year, Grody (of the forever missed Tarentel) goes way beyond the experimental guitar soli stuff and turns solo guitarscapes into a lush & serene ocean spanning this life and every other, delicate drone, subtle piano, & obscured vocals breathing bliss into every moment of this record. For a guitar record, it goes places you never dreamed of.
Alessandro CortiniForse Volume 1 (Important)
This has been getting tonnnns of spins over here. Cortini is from Nine Inch Nails and How To Destroy Angels, which automatically (shamefully) made me not care about this. But for some reason I listened to a sound sample and was instantly sold. This is some incredible minimal/maximal single-Buchla-synth drone stuff that’s got the occasional rhythm and is fucking out of this world awesome. Sadly you missed your chance with the 2xLP, it’s sold out. Luckily, Volumes 2 & 3 are forthcoming before the year’s end. This is gonna be a trilogy to write home about let me tell you.
Hell On Earth Bathetic copy
EarnHell On Earth (Bathetic)
Why this guy isn’t at the top of the drone chain yet I don’t know. But lets hope Hell On Earth puts him there. I can hardly imagine a more beautifully dark record than this, channeling soft woozy bliss into a black mourning shroud, this is the ghostly stuff you see out of the corner of your eye on a sun-drenched foggy morning, supremely perfect, definitely one of the best drone records you’ll come across this year.
Henry PlotnickFields (Holy Mountain)
It’s hard to not call every embarrassingly talented kid that hasn’t even hit high school a genius, but here we have 11 year old Plotnick’s debut 2xLP of melodic loops in the vain of the early minimal masters and goddamn this guy is fuckin going places. Regardless of his age, Fields is a fucking triumph of transcendental zoning. Fingers crossed he keeps recording.
the archivist - the wooden laser album cover
The ArchivistThe Wooden Laser (self released)
I was maybe a bit biased from the get-go due to this guy’s name but objectively speaking this record is the fucking best. The Wooden Laser is a barely there minimalism, crank this fucker up and you can still hear you pet’s heartbeat 3 rooms over. An ambiance formed around dusty tapes and whispered electronics, you can give 100% of your ears to this and it’ll show you all the crevices in the fabric of reality.
sarah davachi - the untuning of the sky album cover
Sarah DavachiThe Untuning Of The Sky (Full Spectrum)
A debut of this caliber shouldn’t be going as unnoticed as it is, Davachi has cuddled up next to a variety of electronics (ARP, Buchla, Serge, Mellotron) and coaxed tender long-form minimal drone dreams out of them, deeply saturated in warmth & finessed to a level of tonal perfection I don’t think many people ever achieve.
d burke mahoney - loran-c album cover
D. Burke MahoneyLORAN-C (self released)
An homage to the 1350 foot transmitter LORAN-C in Greeland that collapsed in 1964, this is a beautiful drone record that’s overwhelmingly minimal, the kind of sounds you hear emerge from a silent room that has various quiet machines powered up, the sound of a room breathing, exceptional, precise, & absolutely perfect. Also, it’s free.
lustmord - the word as power album cover
LustmordThe Word As Power (Blackest Ever Black)
I was never too into Lustmord but when I heard this was a drone record based on various guest artists’ vocals (Jarboe! Soriah!), I had to check it out. Blew my expectations right out of the water. I love some quality black magic ritual drone like Phurpa and Zurvan and this fits right in, expansive & evocative detailed drones resonating through empty caverns, so fucking excellent.
marisa anderson - mercury album cover
Marisa AndersonMercury (Mississippi)
How I’ve yet to hear of Anderson before this record is a baffling travesty. She picks & strums her way on electric, acoustic, and lap-steel guitars playing 100% awesome experimental Americana, twanging & echoing under wide open skies and doing an assortment of styles, bluesy drags, lazy folk, dusty Appalachian ragas, and tying it all together with an old fashioned tenderness. Love this so much.
Big Blood - Radio Valkyrie 1905-1917 album cover
Big BloodRadio Valkyrie 1905-1917 (Feeding Tube)
Insanely fantastic record from this Maine psych folk duo, only their second full length and somehow they’ve already honed a hazy dark sound that puts everything else to shame. Songs fit for midnight forest rituals and ghost stories by the fire, a seriously warped ethereal vibe that’s unshakeable after the first track’s vapors seep into your pores.
molly drake album cover
Molly DrakeMolly Drake (Squirrel Thing)
Unearthed recordings from the 50s by Nick Drake’s mom!! This woman has an undeniably charming & enchanting voice, singing sweet somber tunes & floating effortlessly on her piano, this is a record that’ll transport you to the drawing room you never got to hang in.
agarttha - a water which does not wet hands album cover
AgartthaA Water Which Does Not Wet Hands (King Of The Monsters)
Agarttha is one Francesca Marongiu (of Architeuthis Rex) conjuring a doomy folk, or folksy doom, or some manner of subdued occult magik that pours out of your speakers like a fog, offering elements of psych & pop that are as inexplicable as they are welcome. One weird fuckin record, covers you in a thick layer of moss that you’ll never wash off.
Julianna BarwickNepenthe (Dead Oceans)
Been enthralled with Barwick ever since I saw her open for Eluvium years ago and her new record takes her layered vocal bliss to uncharted heights, sometimes venturing into pop territory, but pure fucking heaven through & through. Hands down one of the most beautiful records and completely deserving of all the praise that’s been heaped upon it lately.