Homeland

For her first studio album in nine years, performance art's greatest star combines personal acoustic songs with the synth-powered social commentary of her 1980s heyday. Laurie Anderson summons chamber music on "Thinking of You" and echoes classic Motown on the lyrics to "Strange Perfumes." The meat of the album, however, is explicitly political, and its showstopper is "Only an Expert," which melds global warming, bank bailouts, Oprah Winfrey and roaring guitar feedback from Anderson's hubby, Lou Reed. Hilarious and horrifying, it's the harsh 21st-century flip side to her unnervingly gentle hit "O Superman."