Goldfrapp, Head First (Mute) Whereas Goldfrapp’s early material was introspective and cool, the band’s fifth album just might melt the dancefloor and everyone trampling it. Head First is a giddy, 80s-inspired dance offering that, if not exactly reinventing the disco ball, is a blissful shout-out to ABBA’s heavily stylized, grandiose glam. Lead singer Alison Goldfrapp exercises her Olympian voice with throaty gymnastics, only occasionally overshadowed by partner Will Gregory’s pounding bass line. Songs such as “Believer” and “Alive” provide Saturday Night Fever-worthy moments, but the jubilant and kitschy “Rocket” is the album’s gold standard.—Ashley Simpson
Four Tet, There Is Love In You (Domino) Kieran Hebden has always seemed allergic to the mathematics of percussion, embracing the unhinged and unmetered instead. It’s surprising, then, that on the British DJ’s fifth album, his songs are constructed on a bedrock of measured beats—Frank Lloyd Wright this time, to his previous albums’ Frank Gehry. His first single, “Love Cry,” is a nine-minute master class in letting the beat build. “Angel Echoes” splices and dices ethereal voices over a steady bass kick and lingering glockenspiel. Meanwhile, “Plastic People” is the best Aphex Twin song Aphex Twin never recorded.—Ben Barna
Los Campesinos!, Romance Is Boring (Arts & Crafts) “But let’s talk about you for a minute,” insists the opening line of this chamber pop collective’s third release in as many years. What follows, however, is the Welsh septet’s most personal album yet. Tantrums run the gamut: lead singer Gareth Campesinos! (not his given name, obviously) speak-sings behind gritted teeth over hushed xylophone solos; the band’s Greek chorus shouts over brass and string sections that change chords on hairpin turns. As evidenced by the single-ready “These Are Listed Buildings,” Romance still serves up the band’s sticky-sweet hooks, only now with a serrated spoon.—Foster Kamer
Massive Attack, Heligoland (EMI) Seven years after the release of the British duo’s fourth studio album (Daddy G split after 2003’s 100th Window, turning the trio into a pair), Massive Attack is back with their inimitable sound. They’re still tirelessly trip-hopping along, joined, with varying degrees of success, by a revolving door of experimentalists, including TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Hope Sandoval, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Martina Topley-Bird and Damon Albarn. One of the album’s most wonderfully conflicted moments arrives courtesy of “Rush Minute,” with the lyrics, “I wanna be clean but I gotta get high.” Languorous, calm and dark, it’s like chicken soup for the heroin addict’s soul.—Eiseley Tauginas
The Watson Twins, Talking To You, Talking To Me (Vanguard) On their sophomore album, the Watson sisters inject some throwback (no, really, more throwback) into their sound. Although this 12-track effort fails to outshine their collaboration with Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, Chandra and Leigh have brightened and deepened their songs, adding some welcome levity to their work. “U-N-Me” successfully fuses ’60s pop with Feist-like harmonious folk. Soulful and syrupy, yes, but Talking To You, Talking To Me leaves us hungry for something with a little more bite. —Alexandra Vickers
Adam Green, Minor Love (Fat Possum) Six folk-rock solo albums into his career—to say nothing of his time spent with the now-disbanded Moldy Peaches—perennial jester Adam Green has recorded his most mature release yet. “What Makes Him Act So Bad?” is a spot-on imitation of ’70s Vegas-rock, while “Bathing Birds” is a whiskey-thick tribute to more serious country crooners. Yet the real genius of Minor Love isn’t the album’s embrace of disparate genres (although that’s impressive, too), it’s how charming and easy Green makes all this variety sound.—C.G.
k-os, Yes! (Last Gang) Two minutes into his fourth studio album, Canadian rapper k-os informs listeners, “I’m not indie rock / I’m West Indies hip-hop.” But k-os might be a touch more indie rock than he cares to admit: “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman” is an ode to the ultimate object of hipster desire and a take on Phantom Planet’s “California” to boot; Metric’s Emily Haines and the Dears’ Murray Lightburn share vocal duties on “Uptown Girl.” Still, if k-os doesn’t want to be pigeonholed, so be it. When he’s adding urgent piano chords to a sample of Pharcyde’s “Soul Flower (Remix),” on the anthemic album standout “4 3 2 1,” he can be whatever he wants.—B.B.