May's Best New Music

Our monthly roundup looks at the best albums released over the past month. For reviews of these and many more albums, visit Metacritic Music.

The best albums released this month

Below, we look at the best reviewed albums released in May 2010. For each album below, we list the percentages of "great" critic reviews (with an individual critic score above 80), "good" critic reviews (61-80), "mixed" reviews (40-60), and "bad" reviews (below 40). Note that all song download links go to Hype Machine, where you can find the indicated MP3s on a variety of music blogs.

Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid (Atlantic)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Tightrope
, Cold War

60% 40% 0% 0% 89 9.3

Monáe's full-length debut is an Afrofuturistic concept album that continues the journey of her Metropolis EP alter ego, android Cyndi Mayweather, through a mind-blowing array of genres.

What the critics liked: In this ambitious, cinematic opus about "a cybergirl's struggle to love in the futuristic city of Metropolis," Monáe playfully leaps from cabaret to gospel to rap with a versatility that would make mentor/collaborator Big Boi's head spin.

What they didn't: Considering that it's one of the best-reviewed albums of the year, there are few detractors, but Prefix noted that "Monáe has crafted an album that freely borrows ideas without adding much to the process."

Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (Warp)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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...And the World Laughs with You
, Do the Astral Plane

48% 48% 4% 0% 87 9.2

Producer FlyLo's electronica space opera includes guest spots by the likes of his cousin, Ravi Coltrane, and Radiohead's Thom Yorke.

What the critics liked: The laws of physics and music are both challenged in this quantum-like collage that encompasses dubstep, jazz, IDM, hip-hop, dance, and countless other genres; more than one critic has warned that it's not for casual listening.

What they didn't: Nothing. Reviewers wore out their superlatives when discussing this album.

Listen to "And the World Laughs with You (feat. Thom Yorke)":

Also by this artist:
Los Angeles 2008 81 10.0    

The National: High Violet (4AD)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Bloodbuzz Ohio
, Afraid of Everyone

50% 43% 7% 0% 85 9.2

The Brooklyn-via-Ohio quintet's latest album is even more confident than its predecessor, 2007's acclaimed Boxer.

What the critics liked: Dense production, anthemic melodies, and introspective vocals cast a gorgeous, melancholy spell that few listeners will be able to resist.

What they didn't: Hot Press “can’t get behind" Matt Berninger's distinctive voice.

Also by this artist:
Boxer 2007 86 8.9    
Alligator 2005 81 9.3    
Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers 2003 78 9.2    

LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Drunk Girls
, Dance Yrself Clean

42% 48% 10% 0% 85 8.0

It's rumored that this third album may be the last for DFA mastermind James Murphy's punk-electronica-dance project LCD Soundsystem.

What the critics liked: With impossibly catchy dance beats, pristine production, and the occasional wistful ballad, Murphy & friends prove that 40 is hipper than 30, if perhaps more melancholy.

What they didn't: Even hardcore LCD -loving critics conceded that self-reference can occasionally be more derivative than clever.

Listen to "Dance Yrself Clean":

Also by this artist:
Sound of Silver 2007 86 8.2    
LCD Soundsystem 2005 86 7.6    
45:33 2007 86 7.3    

Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles [2010] (Fiction)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Celestica
, Doe Deer

33% 50% 17% 0% 82 n/a

Electronica enfants terribles Alice Glass and Ethan Kath tighten up their ferociously raw aesthetic for their second eponymous album.

What the critics liked: The Canadian duo continues to make atmospheric, synth-based glitch-punk you can dance, scream, and freak to while expanding their melodic and stylistic range.

What they didn't: The slicker production can dull weaker songs, making the album somewhat uneven.

Listen to "Celestica":

Also by this artist:
Crystal Castles [2008] 2008 73 7.4    

Male Bonding: Nothing Hurts (Sub Pop)

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Year's Not Long
, Franklin

14% 71% 14% 0% 81 6.0

Armed with the formula "tinnitus and a hook," this London trio's debut speeds out of the park with mostly two-minute punk-pop masterpieces.

What the critics liked: The band's sheer exuberance and sincerity lend an edge to their pleasing, if somewhat derivative, noise-pop confections.

What they didn't: Rock Sound disparages them as "just another hipster band who got lucky."

Listen to "Franklin":

The Black Keys: Brothers (Nonesuch)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Tighten Up
, Next Girl

24% 67% 10% 0% 81 9.1

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney's minimalist blues rock gets a little spit-and-shine in The Black Keys' sixth full-length.

What the critics liked: The album is at its best with its garage-band combo of bluesy ballads and occasional sonic experimentation; überproducer Danger Mouse's influence on single "Tighten Up" will no doubt provide the band an influx of both new fans and needle-drop cash.

What they didn't: The album's 115 minutes go on too long, and the newer production polish isn't for everyone.

Also by this artist:
Rubber Factory 2004 81 9.5    
Attack & Release 2008 76 9.0    
thickfreakness 2003 74 9.7    
Magic Potion 2006 69 7.9    

Harvey Milk: A Small Turn Of Human Kindness (Hydra Head)

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11% 89% 0% 0% 81 n/a

This seventh album by this Athens, GA experimental band consists of seven tracks that interconnect to form a single funereal whole.

What the critics liked: Critics agreed that the album was mournful, sad, doom-filled, gothic, downtrodden, gloomy, heartbreaking, "heavily depressing" (The Number of the Blog), and "deeply disturbing" (Popmatters)—but compellingly so.

What they didn't: Not much—Apparently, music critics are down with melancholy.

Also by this artist:
Life... The Best Game in Town 2008 85 7.0    
Harvey Milk 2010 73 8.0   [first release of 1994 album]

The Fall: Your Future, Our Clutter (Domino)

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Y.F.O.C./Slippy Floor

17% 67% 17% 0% 81 8.0

Mark E. Smith brings together what he calls The Fall's "best lineup" for the 34-year-old Manchester post-punk outfit's 28th album.

What the critics liked: Clocking in at just under an hour, this noisy and unapologetic album is a solid Fall effort, with Smith's surreal rants occasionally veering into the travails of an aging rocker.

What they didn't: A few critics seemed mildly disappointed by some of the tracks, but only in comparison to the rest of the record.

Listen to "Y.F.O.C./Slippy Floor":

Also by this artist:
The Real New Fall L.P. 2004 85 9.5    
Imperial Wax Solvent 2008 81 8.5    
Fall Heads Roll 2005 80 8.8    
Reformation Post T.L.C. 2007 67 7.2    
More Well-Reviewed May Albums
Album Label Metascore
So Runs The World Away by Josh RitterPytheas80
Love And Its Opposite by Tracey ThornMerge80
Diamond Eyes by DeftonesReprise80
Mondo Cane by Mike PattonIpecac78
Here's To Taking It Easy by PhosphorescentDead Oceans77
Heaven Is Whenever by The Hold SteadyVagrant77
Stuck On Nothing by Free EnergyAstralwerks/Caroline76
Forgiveness Rock Record by Broken Social SceneArts & Crafts76
Distant Relatives by Nas And Damian MarleyRepublic76
Compass by Jamie LidellWarp75
Avoid these:
Keep Calm And Carry On by StereophonicsV2/Island/Mercury59
Grey Oceans by CocoRosieSub Pop59
Night Train [EP] by KeaneInterscope56

The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores are from May 25, 2010.

What are you listening to?

What new albums or songs are in heavy rotation on your MP3 player? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (24)

  • abilify  

    Yeasayer – Odd Blood (#1), Broken Bells – s/t (#2), David Byrne and Fatboy Slim – Here Lies Love, LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening, Foals – Total Life Forever, The Black Keys – Brothers, Band of Horses – Infinite Arms and Beach House – Teen Dream are all in the Top 10 so far.

  • Brent H  

    Jonsi's "Go" is my favorite of the year so far. It's joyous music that takes me somewhere else. "Go" is followed closely by Rufus Wainwright's "All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu", M.I.A.'s "Maya, Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More" and Robyn's new EP is fantastic. After listening to the new Arcade Fire songs though, I have a sneaky suspicion that "The Suburbs" might be the record to beat this year.

  • Brian  

    LCD Soundsystem gets the slight nod over The National if for no other reason than tracks 4 (All I Want) & 9 (Home) are more spectacular than anything on High Violet. The Radio Dept's "Clinging to a Scheme" isn't getting the love it deserves. And you guys have totally forgotten about Delorean's "Subiza". In fact, there are no reviews for Delorean albums on Metacritic -- a glaring omission.

  • JLR  

    Beach House - Teen Dream is amazing and Joanna Newsom's Have one on me is second.

  • Aex Cho  

    Yeasayer - Odd Blood (#1), Broken Bells - s/t (#2), David Byrne and Fatboy Slim - Here Lies Love, LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening, Foals - Total Life Forever, The Black Keys - Brothers, Band of Horses - Infinite Arms and Beach House - Teen Dream are all in the Top 10 so far. The National's High Violet is growing on me too.

  • Joseph  

    Re: The Black Keys, Brothers: "What they didn’t: The album’s 115 minutes go on too long, and the newer production polish isn’t for everyone." Mine is only 55 minutes and it's certainly not to long.

  • Fretless94  

    Pendulum's Immersion album! DONT FORGET THEM!

  • Ryan  

    I don't know about anyone else, but for me so far the album I think is closest to "classic" is Mr. Paul Weller's REMARKABLE Wake Up The Nation. Teen Dream also blew me away, but lets give the ex-Jam man some props

  • Christopher  

    Thanks for the recommendation of Hadestown. I would have been pissed had I missed on this. The album is great.

  • Chris  

    Janelle Monae, The National, and LCD Soundsystem's albums are all better than pretty much anything that's come out since 2007. Amazing month of new releases. Also Anais Mitchell's Hadestown, which isn't even on Metacritic yet!

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