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'

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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