20 Best Pop Albums of 2017

Kesha, Harry, Taylor and more of the year in hooks

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Girl Ray, 'Earl Grey'
20
16/20

16. Girl Ray, 'Earl Grey'

North London trio Girl Ray formed three years ago when their members were in high school, but the craftsmanship on their debut full-length calls back to Tapestry and "Tempted" and Tiger Trap. Here, gauzy intertwining vocals and gentle instrumentals cushion the blow of their more biting lyrics. ("Talking to our friends all about their favorite cleanse/It gets so old," vocalist Poppy Hankin sighs on "Don't Go Back at Ten.") "Stupid Things," with its rolling piano and sunlight-beam backing vocals, is Carole King by way of K Records; "Just Like That" shimmies and sighs over exclamation-point riffs. But Girl Ray isn't completely tied to the verse-chorus-verse ideal: The 13-minute title track blossoms from dark-cloud moodiness into progged-out clamor. M.J.

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