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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Japanese Breakfast, 'Soft Sounds From Another Planet'
50
39/50

39. Japanese Breakfast, 'Soft Sounds From Another Planet'

Japanese Breakfast's Michelle Zauner has always been the kind of indie songwriter who takes on the big stuff – for her last album, she wrote a collection of downbeat grief confessions and gave it the witty title Psychopomp. But on Soft Sounds, her music has opened up with a grandeur worthy of her lyrical concerns – it's an expansively trippy album saturated in science fiction and 1980s shoegaze sounds. It all comes together in "Diving Woman," a six-minute synth-drone flight, as she meditates on underwater isolation. And in "Boyish," she talks tough about a useless relationship, sneering: "I can't get you off my mind/I can't get you off in general." R.S.

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