The fact that more than half of these selections are from female artists isn’t significant for any other reason than the fact that they’re brilliant records. I’m not interested in quotas or pity votes. The women on this list are here, because they deserve to be.
Tool – “Fear Inoculum”
They made us wait 13 years, but we should all be grateful that we’re alive at a time when Tool is still making new music.
Brittany Howard – “Jaime”
Her solo debut is as fearless and impassioned as anything I’ve heard this decade, let alone this year.
The Highwomen – “The Highwomen”
Country as it was meant to be sung, played, and written, as opposed to the pablum that has dominated the airwaves this decade.
Bruce Springsteen – “Western Stars”
The Boss harnesses the intimacy he found on Broadway and directs it toward a mythical exploration of the American West.
Miranda Lambert – “Wildcard”
The finest release of her career thus far and further proof that Blake Shelton was only dragging her down.
Lana Del Rey – “Norman Fucking Rockwell”
A lot has been said about the level of authenticity (or lack thereof) that Del Rey brings to her work, but, when the work is this good, does it really matter?
Billie Eilish – “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go”
Her lyrical obsession with death rivals Lydia Deetz and the simplicity of the production is something too often missing from modern pop music.
Lizzo – “Cuz I Love You”
A vibrant, millennial update of Aretha Franklin’s 1967 staple “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.”
The Glorious Sons – “A War on Everything”
I wrote at-length about this record earlier in the fall and its disheveled rock aesthetic still resonates.
The Who – “WHO”
I might be the only writer in America to put this on a year-end list, but that’s just fine with me. It was a late addition and a reminder that the bloody Who can still make a bloody good album.