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)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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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)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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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)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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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)

  • Christopher  

    I know it's only May, but seriously:
    High Violet = AOTY

  • hassan cheema  

    Teen Dream is AOTY For Me so Far

  • Anya  

    Teen Dream is unforgettable!

  • Jayson  

    Teen Dream is great, but Sleigh Bells "Treats" is phenomenal. I love that disc. I also am a huge fan of Avi Buffalo and the new Broken Social Scene album.

  • J. Le  

    Which review said The Black Keys' Brothers is 115 minutes long? It is 55 minutes, which is hardly an endurance test.

  • Will  

    gotta agree with 'em... Teen Dream is just astonishing... and has been since the day it came out!

  • Dan  

    Heartland is still my favorite of the year so far, although Teen Dream gives it a run for its money (along with High Violet). May has been the strongest month for new music releases imo, not so much film though...

  • matt allen  

    Port Entropy by Shugo Tokumaru. Even better than Exit. Also, Crystal Castles is seriously underrated. Great album.

  • Nick Eesee  

    Why are MC so keen to avoid mentioning Foals? No front page for their album (which got an 82) and they've been overlooked here again. It was released on May 5 worldwide, so I don't know what the problem is? CONSPIRACIES etc...

  • dustin  

    a whole list proving how useless music critics are, unless, of course, you use their pants-soiling giddiness over an album to evaluate just how garbage it actually is.

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