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Spring Music Preview 2014: 27 Must-Hear Albums

The season’s hottest albums – from U2’s big return to Miranda Lambert’s country-pop blowout

The cold is slowly, gradually starting to subside, the leaves will soon be budding on the trees and the album release schedule is heating up. Yep, spring is on its way. The season is shaping up to be a good one, as it'll bring new albums by rock and R&B superstars, avant-garde favorites, Internet sensations and indie heroes. These are the 27 we're most excited to hear. 

Contributors: Mike Ayers, Patrick Doyle, Cady Drell, David Fricke, Andy Greene, Kory Grow, Brian Hiatt, David Marchese, Nick Murray, Matthew Trammell and Christopher R. Weingarten

Sam Smith

Courtesy Capitol Records

Sam Smith, ‘In the Lonely Hour,’ (June 17th)

Smith, 21, has been having a breakout run. The Londoner sang on Disclosure's U.K. hit "Latch," topped the U.K. charts with "La La La" and even got Twitter love from Adele. Smith goes all in on somber elegance on his debut, mixing dance beats with elements of gospel, soul, classic pop and even country. Five songs were Adele-ishly inspired by Smith's unrequited love for one person. "But there's songs about other things – like one-night stands," he says. "I deal with all the different aspects of loneliness."

Bleachers

Courtesy Bleachers

Bleachers, Title TBD (Late Spring)

As fun. toured the world off 2012's hit Some Nights, guitarist Jack Antonoff spent his downtime recording music for his new project, Bleachers. "I wanted to bridge the gap between Disclosure and Arcade Fire," he says. "It's extremely over the top and extremely epic." Antonoff worked with producers John Hill (MIA, Jay Z) and Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure) for bombastic synth-heavy singalongs, like "I Wanna Get Better," where he mines the scars of his past, from a damaging acid trip to losing his sister 10 years ago. "The record is all about finding a world where you can be kind to yourself."

Future

Courtesy Epic Records

Future, ‘Honest’ (Spring TBD)

"Everybody thought it was going to be pop," says hip-hop's reigning hook master Future, who has robo-crooned with everyone from Miley Cyrus to Justin Bieber. "But we're gonna go so hood and so underground on 'em." Indeed, Honest, possibly the year's most anticipated rap release, will have the hard-edged, tear-the-club-up feel of recent tracks like "Sh!t": "T-Shirt" is an impassioned shout over slow-mo EDM, and elsewhere, Wiz Khalifa raps over a collision of Wagner and Miami bass. "It's gonna shock the world," Future says.