50 Best Albums of 2017

Taylor Swift clapped back, Kendrick Lamar got personal, Lorde threw a high-concept party and more

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Grizzly Bear, 'Painted Ruins'
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40/50

40. Grizzly Bear, 'Painted Ruins'

A decade or so ago, Grizzly Bear helped define the new wave of psychedelic-leaning folk-rock on 2006's Yellow House and 2009's Veckatimest. Enough time has passed for that sound to begin creeping back into fashion – which makes it all the more impressive that Grizzly Bear swung hard in another direction entirely on their first album since 2012. Painted Ruins is an audacious pivot to synth-pop, using the band's most direct hooks ever ("Mourning Sound," "Losing All Sense") to address break-ups and the end of the world. It's also spiced with plenty of jazzy weirdness, particularly on the delightfully Steely waltz "Glass Hillside." Fully charged and ready to break new ground, this is the kind of post-hiatus comeback most band's fans only dream of. S.V.L.

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