The 45 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2021: The War on Drugs, Kacey Musgraves, Lizzo, Drake, and More

Marco B Divaio

Another year is nearing its end, which means one last batch of records before turning the calendar to 2022. Some of these albums, like Lil Nas X’s Montero, have been teased for quite some time, while others, like Kacey Musgraves’ Star-Crossed, seem like they’re arriving just as soon as they’re […]

Another year is nearing its end, which means one last batch of records before turning the calendar to 2022. Some of these albums, like Lil Nas X’s Montero, have been teased for quite some time, while others, like Kacey Musgraves’ Star-Crossed, seem like they’re arriving just as soon as they’re even announced. There’s plenty of room in between, too, for traditional album rollouts and records that may still be twinkles in their creators’ eyes. Here are 45 records to look forward to in the coming months. (As of August 30, all release dates have been confirmed. But, as usual, everything is subject to change.)


BadBadNotGood: Talk Memory

October 8

For their new album Talk Memory, the members of BadBadNotGood focused on collaboration and improvisation, bringing in a varied group of musicians—respected Brazilian composer Arthru Verocai, Terrace Martin, Laraaji, Karriem Riggins, and harpist Brandee Younger—to expand on their established sound. The result is a more free-form BadBadNotGood, evidenced by the nine-minute lead single “Signal From the Noise,” a psychedelic jazz odyssey. –Noah Yoo

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BadBadNotGood: Talk Memory


Bomba Estéreo: Deja

September 10

Bomba Estéreo’s first album since 2017’s Ayo is divided into parts based on the four classical elements, and the release strategy has followed suit. In February, the wide-ranging Colombian pop group released a three-song Agua EP, with a title track featuring Lido Pimienta and Afro-Cuban duo Okan. Another three-track helping, the Aire EP, arrived in April, before Tierra in July. The full album Deja lands on September 10, and, according to singer Li Saumet, it’s “about the connection and disconnection of human beings—from the planet, from one’s own self.” –Marc Hogan


Camila Cabello: Familia

TBA

Two years after 2019’s Romance, which featured the gigantic single “Señorita,” Camila Cabello has announced her third full-length record. Familia does not currently have a release date, but it’s is led by the song “Don’t Go Yet.” “This album was inspired by two things: family & food,” Cabello tweeted “Your family by blood, but also your chosen family. Who you want to sit at the dinner table, get wine-drunk, & dance in the living room with.” –Quinn Moreland


Cardi B

TBA

In early February, Cardi B shared her new single and video, “Up.” In an interview timed to the release, she said she wanted to put out an album in 2021 and had “like 50 songs” recorded. Since then, Cardi has performed her 2020 hit with Megan Thee Stallion, “WAP,” at the Grammys, although the song isn’t expected to be submitted for awards consideration until next year—hopefully timed to the release of the follow-up to her 2018 debut Invasion of Privacy. –Marc Hogan


Circuit des Yeux: -io

October 22

Haley Fohr’s latest album as Circuit des Yeux is her first LP for new label Matador. The title, -io, is the name Fohr created to describe the universe of grief that enveloped her after the death of a close friend, shortly before the pandemic began. She worked alongside 13 renowned musicians from Chicago’s jazz and experimental scenes to create the songs. –Noah Yoo


Coldplay: Music of the Spheres

October 15

Can the songs on Coldplay’s follow-up to 2019’s Everyday Life possibly be as remarkable as their titles, several of which are emoji? Find out in a couple of months, when Chris Martin and the lads release their Max Martin–produced ninth album, Music of the Spheres, with such tracks as “🪐 [Ringed Planet Emoji]” and “🌎.” So far from the upcoming LP, the group has shared the single “Higher Power” and the 10-minute album-closer “Coloratura.” Making more friends might be easy in a wooden house, but space—well, there aren’t enough alphanumeric characters to express it, are there? –Marc Hogan

Coldplay: Music of the Spheres


Courtney Barnett: Things Take Time, Take Time

November 12

Written over the span of two years and recorded with the help of producer/drummer Stella Mozgawa, Courtney Barnett’s third solo album is titled Things Take Time, Take Time. It’s the follow-up to 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel and is led by the song “Rae Street.” –Cat Zhang

Courtney Barnett: Things Take Time, Take Time


Damon Albarn: The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows

November 12

Damon Albarn’s latest solo album started life as an orchestral piece. In 2019, the Gorillaz and Blur frontman announced plans to take the piece on the road with a string ensemble in 2020. After the pandemic wrecked those plans, Albarn revisited the music in the studio to develop what would become his new record. The album’s 11 tracks were inspired by the breathtaking beauty of Iceland’s landscapes. –Noah Yoo

Damon Albarn: The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows


Diana Ross: Thank You

November 5

Thank You is Diana Ross’ 25th solo album and first in 15 years. The 13-song comeback album boasts a wide range of collaborators, including Jack Antonoff, Jimmy Napes, Tayla Parx, and Spike Stent, and was recorded entirely at the former Supremes singer’s home studio during lockdown. So far, Ross has released the nostalgic gospel-pop title track. “​This collection of songs is my gift to you with appreciation and love,” she said of the project. –Eric Torres


Drake: Certified Lover Boy

September 3

“CLB September 3,” that’s what a brief, unexpected, and altogether bizarre promo on ESPN’s SportsCenter promised. A few days later, Drake made it official: The new album Certified Lover Boy is coming out this Friday. He’s been teasing the album for a year, announcing its title upon the August 2020 release of the single “Laugh Now Cry Later.” The formal follow-up to Scorpion was expected to arrive in January, but chose to delay the record, in part, due to a knee injury. –Matthew Strauss


Finneas: Optimist

October 15

A little less than a week after his sister Billie Eilish released Happier Than Ever, Grammy-winning producer Finneas announced his solo debut, Optimist. The first single, “A Concert Six Months From Now,” came with a video shot at the Hollywood Bowl. “I’m tired of being your ex,” Finneas sings, proof that if it’s the hope that kills you, then optimism still hurts pretty bad, too. –Marc Hogan


Grouper: Shade

October 22

Liz Harris returns with Shade, a collection of songs recorded over the last 15 years, many made at her home in Astoria, Oregon, and others originating from a residency at Mount Tamalpais in Portland. She recently released “Unclean Mind,” a guitar-led track and departure from her typical piano and voice arrangements. –Gio Santiago


Helado Negro: Far In

October 22

Helado Negro recorded his new album and 4AD debut, Far In, entirely in his Brooklyn apartment, but he took inspiration from farther away: Marfa, Texas, where he spent the height of the pandemic. As Eric Torres wrote in his recent profile of Helado Negro, the musician “intentionally moved away from themes of identity to focus more on evoking emotions through poetic, enigmatic verses.” –Gio Santiago


Illuminati Hotties: Let Me Do One More

October 1

Illuminati Hotties promise freewheeling, anarchist punk tracks on their third record, Let Me Do One More. After years of label conflicts, the band will be releasing the album through frontwoman Sarah Tudzin’s imprint, Snack Shack Tracks. “The songs tell a story of my gremlin-ass running around L.A., sneaking into pools at night, messing up and starting over, begging for attention for one second longer, and asking the audience to let me do one more,” Tudzin has said. Big Thief’s Buck Meek makes an appearance, as does Great Grandpa’s Alex Menne. –Kelly Liu

Illuminati Hotties: Let Me Do One More


J Balvin: Jose

September 10

José is J Balvin’s first name, and, as such, Jose is, in a way, the reggaeton superstar’s first self-titled album. Balvin’s fifth LP and the follow-up to last year’s Colores was announced with a Jose-Emilio Sagaró–directed video for a new song called “Que Locura.” Elsewhere on the tracklist: “In Da Getto,” J Balvin’s collaboration with Skrillex. –Noah Yoo


James Blake: Friends That Break Your Heart

September 10

Following his 2019 album Assume Form and two EPs—one featuring club-ready tracks and another of covers—James Blake will be releasing the new album Friends That Break Your Heart. The 12-track record features SZA and J.I.D., and more. Blake said of the lead single, “Say What You Will”: “The song is about finding peace with who you are and where you’re at regardless of how well other people seem to be doing.” –Cat Zhang

James Blake: Friends That Break Your Heart


Japanese Breakfast: Sable

September 24

A critically-acclaimed memoir (Crying in H Mart) and a full-length album (Jubilee) weren’t enough to keep Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast busy this year. The indie pop artist wrote and performed an original soundtrack for the video game Sable, which sees the light of day this fall. This is not her first foray into video games; for her 2017 record Soft Sounds From Another Planet, she released a role-playing game called Japanese BreakQuest featuring 8-bit versions of the record. –Cat Zhang


José González: Local Valley

September 17

In February, more than 15 years after his solo debut, José González shared his first-ever Spanish-language release, “El Invento.” The song heralded the Swedish singer-songwriter’s first studio album in six years, Local Valley. Another new track, “Visions,” followed in April and added synth loops and bird sounds. González’s previous studio effort, 2015’s Vestiges & Claws, came eight years after its full-length predecessor, 2007’s In Our Nature, although there was a handful of González records with his folk-rock band Junip in between. –Marc Hogan

José González: Local Valley


Kacey Musgraves: Star-Crossed

September 10

Kacey Musgraves released Golden Hour, her Grammy-winning pop breakout, after marrying country musician Ruston Kelly. Accordingly, the album was optimistic and bright, a kaleidoscope of love. Musgraves’ follow-up, Star-Crossed, is being released the year after she and Kelly divorced, and it’s not like Musgraves to ignore a room’s elephant. “It’s a modern tragedy in three acts,” she recently told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, “and I think it would have been extremely awkward if I just acted like this last chapter didn’t happen for me.” –Matthew Strauss

Kacey Musgraves: Star-Crossed


Kari Faux: Lowkey Superstar Deluxe

September 24

Last July, Kari Faux summed up her quarantine in a Pitchfork interview as “a lot of self-reflection and a lot of avoidance of self-reflection.” On August 17, the rapper/producer from Little Rock, Arkansas, announced her new album Lowkey Superstar Deluxe, which includes new songs, remixes, and featured performances from J.I.D, Smino, and more. At the same time, Faux also released the first single, “Too Much, Too Fast,” which features Deante’ Hitchcock. –Marc Hogan


Kedr Livanskiy: Liminal Soul

October 1

“I’m a punk,” Kedr Livanksiy told Pitchfork last year. The Russian electronic artist, whose alias means “Lebanon cedar,” is punk in a very different way than you’ll read about in the glossy magazine trend pieces with their obligatory Travis Barker quotes. Her 2019 album, Your Need, found the Moscow producer gliding between ethereal electro-pop and underground breakbeats. The follow-up, Liminal Soul, brings her vocals even more to the fore, as heard on the pulsating first single, “Stars Light Up.” Liminal Soul reunites Livanskiy with fellow Moscow producer Flaty and features electronic group Synecdoche Montauk. –Marc Hogan


Klein: Harmattan

November 19

London experimental musician Klein wrote, produced, performed, and mixed Harmattan, her follow-up to 2020’s Frozen and debut on classical label Pentatone. She has already shared the dream-like first single, “Hope Dealers,” which she describes as “an R&B tribute song to grime.” The album features guest vocalist Charlotte Church and the synthesizer-transposed vocals of grime MC Jawnino on the track “Skyfall.” Tantalizingly, Harmattan’s announcement included a written introduction by the cultural theorist Fred Moten, who describes the album as “​​a soundtrack of epic revolt against beginnings and ends.” –Marc Hogan


Lana Del Rey: Blue Banisters

TBA

It’s been a bit more than a few months since Lana Del Rey’s latest album, March’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club, but she’s already staging a comeback. So far, she’s floated two potential titles—Rock Candy Sweet and Blue Banisters—and shared three songs: “Text Book,” “Blue Banisters,” and “Wildflower Wildfire,” which featured production from Mike Dean. “I’m writing my own story,” Del Rey wrote on Twitter alongside a teaser of what appeared to be a new music video. “And no one can tell it but me.” –Sam Sodomsky


Lil Nas X: Montero

September 17

For the past few months, Lil Nas X has been in fearless album mode. Whether obliterating streaming records in stripper heels with his devil-seducing video for title track “Montero (Call Me by Your Name” or upping his performance game on late-night shows, the “Old Town Road” artist is clearly planting a flag in pop star territory in preparation for his debut, which finally arrives this September. Lil Nas X recently followed up “Montero” with the guitar-laced “Sun Goes Down,” capturing his teenage years with the 20/20 hindsight of someone who’s grown comfortable in their skin, and “Industry Baby,” another single with an eye-catching music video. –Eric Torres


Lindsey Buckingham: Lindsey Buckingham

September 17

Lindsey Buckingham’s upcoming self-titled album will be his first solo LP since 2011’s Seeds We Sow. In the meantime, he toured with Fleetwood Mac as part of their reunited Rumours-era lineup, released a duets album with fellow on-off Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie, and parted ways with Fleetwood Mac. In 2019, Buckingham underwent open-heart surgery. He has said that many of the songs on Lindsey Buckingham, including first single “I Don’t Mind,” are “about the challenges couples face in long-term relationships.” Also streaming is “On the Wrong Side,” a more uptempo track with a characteristic Buckingham guitar solo. –Marc Hogan

Lindsey Buckingham: Lindsey Buckingham


Little Simz: Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

September 3

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert will be Little Simz’s first full-length record since Grey Area in 2019. That same year, she had a starring role in the Netflix revival of Top Boy. The British MC has remained active, putting out an EP last year titled Drop 6 and building anticipation for her album with the singles “Introvert” and the Cleo Sol–assisted “Woman.” With the music video for “Woman,” Simz stepped into the director’s chair for the first time. –Alphonse Pierre

Little Simz: Sometimes I Might Be Introvert


Lizzo

TBA

Could it be Lizzo season? On August 13, the Minnesota artist returned with her first single as a lead artist since 2019’s Cuz I Love You. Titled “Rumors,” the track features Lizzo’s Atlantic Records labelmate Cardi B. There’s no official word yet about a prospective follow-up to Cuz I Love You, which featured the hits “Truth Hurts,” “Good as Hell,” and “Juice.” But “Rumors” has already started tongues wagging. –Marc Hogan


Low: Hey What

September 10

In 2018, Low released their 12th album, Double Negative, which found the slowcore pioneers bending themselves into a deliriously ambitious new shape. It was a wondrous metamorphosis. This past June, the now-duo of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker (Low’s bassist for the past decade, Steve Garrington, has departed) announced their follow-up, Hey What, and it reunites them with producer BJ Burton, who helmed Double Negative, as well as 2015’s Ones and Sixes. The singles, like “Days Like These” and “Disappearing,” promise yet another glorious reinvention. –Marc Hogan


Magdalena Bay: Mercurial World

October 8

Los Angeles–based Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin are releasing their debut LP Mercurial World after sharing a string of EPs and singles over four years. The duo first met in Miami as teenagers, bonding over their shared love of Genesis and King Crimson. Now, Tenenbaum and Lewin make glittering retro synth pop, recorded over a year and a half during the pandemic. Mercurial World’s lyrical musings span from online persona to the theory of time, its tracklist bookended by opener “The End” and closing track “The Beginning.” –Kelly Liu

Magdalena Bay: Mercurial World


Matthew E. White: K Bay

September 10

A lot has happened since Matthew E. White’s 2015 album Fresh Blood: He got married, made his television debut, and released two collaborative records. White’s first solo album in six years, K Bay, is named after his studio refuge in Richmond, Kensington Bay. It features familiar collaborators, including guitarist Alan Parker and keyboardists Devonne Harris and Daniel Clarke. Backed by his own label Spacebomb’s house band, the record is “a bold reclamation of independence and identity.” White recently shared two radiant singles, “Genuine Hesitation” and “Electric,” ahead of its release. –Kelly Liu


Metallica: The Metallica Blacklist

September 10

In conjunction with a 30th-anniversary reissue of The Black Album, Metallica are releasing The Metallica Blacklist. Benefiting various charities, it’s a 53-track, four-hour compilation of different artists covering Black Album songs. Here’s a sampling of the names on the tracklist: Phoebe Bridgers, Weezer, St. Vincent, J Balvin, Miley Cyrus, Kamasi Washington, Rina Sawayama, the Neptunes, Mac DeMarco, Moses Sumney, and Mickey Guyton. Whew. –Marc Hogan

Metallica: The Metallica Blacklist


Moor Mother: Black Encyclopedia of the Air

September 17

Last year, Moor Mother teamed up with New York rapper Billy Woods for the captivating, avant-garde album BRASS. Now, the Philadelphia-based experimental artist returns with the solo album Black Encyclopedia of the Air, recorded with soundscape artist and producer Olof Melander in March 2020. She has shared the blistering “Zami,” named after the Audre Lorde book, and the anxious, Pink Siifu–featuring “Obsidian,” which she says focuses on “thinking about one’s proximity to violence. Thinking about violence in the home. Violence in communities.” Black Encyclopedia of the Air will be Moor Mother’s first release for Anti-, and features Elucid, Nappy Nina, Maassai, and more. –Eric Torres

Moor Mother: Black Encyclopedia of the Air


Normani

TBA

Normani’s solo debut has been a long time in the making. Fans have been clamoring for a full-length album from the singer-songwriter since her first proper solo single, “Motivation,” came out in 2019. Now, it finally seems like Normani’s LP is around the corner. “I naturally gravitate toward eerier, darker sounds,” she told W when asked about the making of the album, ahead of sharing the comeback single “Wild Side.” “Sound selection is my favorite part of the production process, especially when you get in with a producer who is willing to break barriers.” –Noah Yoo


Parquet Courts: Sympathy for Life

October 22

Parquet Courts’ new album Sympathy for Life features some of the same threads the New York explored in its past work. The album is, of course, inspired by the city, but where Parquet Courts’ last album, Wide Awake! was what co-frontman Austin Brown called a “record you could put on at a party,” the new LP is “influenced by the party itself.” Produced alongside longtime XL Recordings affiliate Rodaidh McDonald and PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, Sympathy for Life is led by the song “Walking at a Downtown Pace.” –Noah Yoo

Parquet Courts: Sympathy for Life


Saweetie: Pretty B*tch Music

TBA

Saweetie has been such a constant in the music world in the past several years that it feels like her debut album has already happened. But after tons of EPs, hit singles, and gross-out recipes, Pretty B*tch Music is finally set to arrive. The album already has a couple of big lead singles under its belt with “Tap In” and the Doja Cat–assisted “Best Friend.” –Alphonse Pierre


The Smile

TBA

The Smile are a new band made up of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, both of Radiohead fame, and drummer Tom Skinner, a London jazz scene fixture who plays with Sons of Kemet. On May 22, they made their live debut as the surprise headliner for Glastonbury’s streaming event. The band’s release plans are unclear, but Yorke has credited Nigel Godrich as a producer, and their Glastonbury set delivered some Radiohead-like songs with titles like “We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings” and “Thin Thing.” –Marc Hogan


Sufjan Stevens / Angelo De Augustine: A Beginner’s Mind

September 24

Sufjan Stevens made his latest album, A Beginner’s Mind, with Angelo De Augustine, creating the album at a cabin in Upstate New York. The record is loosely based on Stevens’ and De Augustine’s time together watching movies, resulting in songs like “Back to Oz,” which he completed after watching Return to Oz. –Gio Santiago

Sufjan Stevens / Angelo De Augustine: A Beginner’s Mind


Taylor Swift: Red (Taylor’s Version)

November 19

2012’s Red is the second Taylor Swift album to get the “Taylor’s Version” treatment. In addition to re-recorded versions of the original tracks—including an additional 10-minute version of fan-favorite “All Too Well”—and one-off cuts (“Ronan”), there will be new bonus songs featuring Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Stapleton, and Ed Sheeran. Ever the plotter, Swift revealed some of these clues in a puzzle for her fans to crack. –Cat Zhang


Tirzah: Colourgrade

October 1

UK electronic artist Tirzah released her mesmerizing debut, Devotion, back in 2018. The follow-up, Colourgrade, was created mainly with regular collaborators Mica Levi and Coby Sey, forming a trio that bonded more closely after touring together for Devotion. Recorded after the birth of her first child and before the birth of her second child, the 10-song album focuses on connection, love, and motherhood and features the enigmatic, off-kilter singles “Send Me,” “Sink In,” and “Tectonic.” –Eric Torres


Various Artists: I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico

September 24

Have you ever wondered what Kurt Vile would sound like if he fronted the Velvet Underground? I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico features Vile, Michael Stipe, Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett, the National’s Matt Berninger, Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and more, covering tracks off the band’s 1967 debut. The collection also marks the final production work from the late Saturday Night Live music coordinator Hal Willner, who died last year after showing COVID-19 symptoms. –Quinn Moreland

Various Artists: I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico


The War on Drugs: I Don’t Live Here Anymore

October 29

I Don’t Live Here Anymore, the War on Drugs’ first album since 2017’s A Deeper Understanding, is led by the single “Living Proof,” which sees frontman Adam Granduciel experiment with restraint while still throwing in an electric guitar solo. The band plans to hit the road in 2022—still a little while away. Luckily, the group shared its first live album last year. –Quinn Moreland

The War on Drugs: I Don’t Live Here Anymore


The Weeknd

TBA

The Weeknd’s next album will—if you believe GQ’s description—be made up of “Quincy Jones meets Giorgio Moroder meets the best-night-of-your-fucking-life party records.” The Weeknd also told the magazine that the follow-up to last year’s After Hours is “the album [he’s] always wanted to make.” His August solo single “Take My Breath” is a reunion with Max Martin and Oscar Holter, who previously produced the inescapable After Hours hit “Blinding Lights.” –Marc Hogan


The World Is a Beautiful Place and I’m No Longer Afraid to Die: Illusory Walls

October 8

The World Is a Beautiful Place and I’m No Longer Afraid to Die’s fourth album Illusory Walls is a testament to patience. The band’s first proper LP since 2017’s Always Foreign took about a year to complete, with recording and writing taking place remotely between Connecticut and quarantined Philadelphia. The title, a nod to the video game Dark Souls, “refers to a hidden surface that seems to prevent entry, but upon inspection, is nothing more than a visual illusion,” singer/guitarist David F. Bello has said. The first taste of the new album is “Invading the World of the Guilty as a Spirit of Vengeance,” also named as a Dark Souls allusion. –Marc Hogan


Xenia Rubinos: Una Rosa

October 15

It’s been five years since Xenia Rubinos released Black Terry Cat, and she’s now releasing the follow-up Una Rosa in the fall. She calls one of the standout singles, “Sacude,” her “El Juidero”: “It is my reimagining or retelling of rhythms and melodies I have heard all my life that I carry inside me.” –Gio Santiago


Young Thug: Punk

October 15

Young Thug has had rockstar dreams for some time now, and he may finally live them out on Punk, rumored to be his foray into the genre. He premiered a handful of songs from the project during his NPR “Tiny Desk” set; the music was heavy on melancholy guitars, live drums, and a delivery that was like Thug’s version of spoken word. It sounds like Punk should be drastically different from the more traditional Atlanta rap that filled his Slime Language 2 compilation, although even those cuts have gotten the rockstar treatment. –Alphonse Pierre

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