Of Montreal, Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl). On their ninth studio album, these melodic misnomers from Athens, Georgia, continue to build upon their boffo brand of carnival pop. “Nonpareil of Favor” boils over with typical bubbly fare, anchored by frontman Kevin Barnes’s charming falsetto. On “For Our Elegant Caste,” an unexpected experiment in indie funk, Barnes lilts, “We can do it soft-core if you want, but you should know that I go both ways.” Similarly, “Gallery Piece” features lyrics like, “I want to hurt your pride, I want to slap your face, I want to paint your nails,” a perfectly bathetic trajectory for a perfectly contradictory band. —Nick Haramis
Deerhunter, Microcastle (Kranky). Has America finally found its very own Radiohead in Deerhunter? On their third album, this indie five-piece from Atlanta, Georgia coalesces ambition, experimentation and melody with a concision missing from previous releases. There’s as much ethereal post-punk noisemaking as ever, but honed into sharper songs: “Agoraphobia” could be a long-lost song by the Replacements, while “Nothing Ever Happened” rides an elegant krautrock rhythm majestically into the sunset. Frontman Bradford Cox proves as enigmatic and provocative as, well, Thom Yorke. —Matt Diehl
Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue (Warner Brothers). Album title aside, Jenny Lewis’s sophomore solo effort is guided by her honey-tinged voice. Still, her sharp songwriting supplies bite and introspection (“Acid Tongue”) in equal doses. Like her solo debut, 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat, Lewis’s preferred genre is soul, but the singer and her eclectic collaborators (Elvis Costello, Zooey Deschanel and boyfriend Johnathan Rice, among others) have also turned up the volume. “Jack Killed Mom” is a fiery, organ-led barnburner, while “The Next Messiah” churns along, changing course over nine jammy minutes—and here, Lewis sounds like she’s having more fun than ever. —Brian Orloff
Yo! Majesty, Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid (Domino). Finally, The L Word has its own Salt-N-Pepa. Actually, these Sapphic Floridian firestarters prove much tougher than that; in practice, their groove theory sounds mad, bad and dangerous. “I don’t give a damn what you say!” is the first line on this gloriously raunchy, raw dancefloor dirty bomb, and it sets the tone: throughout, MC’s Shunda K and Jwl. B put the “out” in outspoken over abrasive ’80s-style punk-funk, fashionable electro, grimy boom bap and crude crunk. —M.D.
Oasis, Dig Out Your Soul (Big Brother Recordings). O brothers, where art thou? Since their revolutionary debut, Definitely Maybe, and their inspired follow-up, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, the Gallagher fraternity has plagiarized itself into a palimpsest of irrelevance. And still, stalwart fans the world over wait with breath that is bated (and ultimately deflated) for something new, a flicker of earlier sonic friction. Unfortunately, these soggy rock tracks flounder with the immediacy of wilted arugula. Balladry and psychedelia are muddled together to lackluster effect. The best song of the bunch, “Waiting For the Rapture,” is solid enough, but quivers within the arms of the White Stripes, as if paralyzed by the band’s previous highs. —N.H.
Noah and the Whale, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down (Cherrytree). What would this Brit band be called had Noah Baumbach not made The Squid and the Whale? Noah at the Wedding, perhaps. Self-proclaimed Wes Anderson fanatics (he co-wrote the nautical navel-gazer), Charlie Fink and company emulate his oeuvre, a charming mise-en-scène, damage underneath. Peppy handclaps, cheerio whistles and backup vocals courtesy of Laura Marling can’t obscure lyrics like, “Wherever you go/ Whatever you do/ There’s a man underground/ Who will always love you.” But it’s not all morbid sheen. “5 Years Time” is a ukulele-driven summer-love hymn perfect for, well, a film by Wes Anderson. —Ben Barna
TV On The Radio, Dear Science (Interscope). The latest opus from these orchestral Brooklynites confirms that TV On the Radio are the maddest scientists in all of pop music, masters of sonic experimentation. From the opening Beach Boy doo-wop of “Halfway Home,” lead wailer Tunde Adebimpe goes track for track with Kyp Malone’s startling falsetto, which often ventures into the most unexpected of realms. Droning, distorted, lyrical, and pounding—and still, this is as catchy as art rock gets. —B.B.