Yes, unbelievably it really is the end of September.
This month the Mercury Prize brought amazing live performances from some of Britain and Ireland's most exhilarating artists - not to mention some emotional scenes, both political and personal (Dave and slowthai, we're looking at you) - reminding us just how exciting music is right now.
The month's album output has been equally high-calibre, with brilliant LPs released by the deeply honest MUNA, the unflinchingly experimental Klein and avant-pop Charli XCX.
There was an ecstatic offering from Glaswegian purveyors of utopian ashram jams Free Love and a stunning, joyful solo debut from Brittany Howard.
Needless to say it was tough to choose our top tips, but here's our round-up of some of the best albums that dropped in September...
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MUNA - Saves The World // REVIEW
Californian trio MUNA might not wrestle the world away from its troubles but they certainly come close on this fantastic second LP. Seemingly written against a backdrop of mutual heartbreaks and trauma, ‘Saves The World’ portrays the LA trio finding faith in one another, and in the sublime artistry of their songwriting.
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Free Love - Extreme Dance Anthems // REVIEW
Dancing is a form of ecstatic movement; raves a collective communion. Free Love are pilgrims on an ancient trail: cosmonauts of inner space seeking unity on the dancefloor. From their Full Ashram Celestial Garden (AKA their studio) sprung ‘Extreme Dance Anthems’, their second offering and follow-up to the SAY Award-nominated ‘Luxury Hits’. And suitably for a studio that shares space with both a church and a sex club, it delivers raptures of both the spirit and the flesh.
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Sampa The Great - The Return // REVIEW
The term “World Music” is painful. A clumsy, outdated, catch-all phrase for artists that don’t fit into the Western ideal of pop.It’s easy to see how Sampa The Great might have one become pegged into this slightly bizarre genre black hole. Her influences are vast. Her sphere is global. It would be wrong to put her in a box though. She’s far too good for that. ‘The Return’ challenges the very notion of “World Music”, shattering the tag into tiny pieces with over an hour’s worth of slick, genre hopping rap that spends as much time in the library as the dancefloor.
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JPEGMAFIA - All My Heroes Are Cornballs // REVIEW
On ‘All My Heroes Are Cornballs’ JPEGMAFIA has proved anyone who questioned whether ‘Veteran’ was a fluke wrong and joined that elusive club of rappers, and musicians as a whole, who have released a second album stronger than their first. “This album is my real life realisation.” Peggy recently said. And it feels real. After listening to the album and immersing yourself in Peggy’s world, it’s safe to say he is now a cornball.
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Charli XCX - Charli // REVIEW
Charlotte Aitchison has come a long way from Iggy Azalea’s 'Fancy'. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since that song was everywhere - and equally as much time since Charli XCX has released a full studio album. While she’s kept us quite a bit satiated in between with two different mixtapes and her 'Vroom Vroom' EP, the much-anticipated release of Charli is here. It sees producer A.G. Cook (of PC Music - known for pushing the limits of pop to sickly-sweet extremes) and Charli teaming up for yet a third project together— one that strikes an artful, masterful balance between too much... and much too much.
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Klein - Lifetime // REVIEW
Every now and again an album, and artist, comes along that leaves you breathless and exhilarated. After playing it you are left speechless and at a loss to make sense of what you’ve heard. So you play it again. At the end you know it was enjoyable and it spoke to you, but you are at a loss to try and articulate it. ‘Lifetime’ by Klein is this kind of album. It encompasses everything the artist has experienced so far, rich with texture and ideas. Let’s hope it doesn’t take her another lifetime to create something as singular and enjoyable as this.
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Brittany Howard - Jaime // REVIEW
‘Jaime’ is arguably Brittany Howard’s most important work to date spiritually, let alone critically. From the tantalisingly percussive ‘History Repeats’ to the melancholically synthesised ‘Run to Me’, ‘Jaime’ is an unflinching exploration of the very nooks and crannies we censor even from ourselves. Named in memoriam of the beloved sister Howard lost to cancer when both were in their teens, the album is a sonic sucking of the poison from the wounds of life, and the regeneration of the artist thereafter.
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Kojey Radical - Cashmere Tears // REVIEW
'Cashmere Tears' places Kojey Radical in a nuanced state of emotions. Backed by real-life experiences and growth from them, the physically young artist is able to convey mature, nurtured and considered life-timelines which - if failing to resonate with his target audience - allow for the wider-eyes of the world to get a glimpse of the true package and depth that he possesses in the palm of his hand. A truly refreshing LP.
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Joe Armon-Jones - Turn To Clear View // REVIEW
‘Turn To Clear View’ is an album that shoots out of the speakers like a bolt of sunshine and immediately sucks you into its woozy world. After Joe Armon-Jones and collaborator/co-producer Maxwell Owin wrote out the musical charts that would turn into ‘Turn To Clear View’ the whole thing was recorded over two days.
And its feeling of immediacy really comes across in the playing. But when you have Oscar Jerome, Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia in your band, the results were always going to be something special.
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Girl Band - The Talkies // REVIEW
This is a beautiful album from Girl Band, but not conventionally. Its bespoke aesthetics depict the sense of a particular space, one where panic, desperation, anger, paranoia and claustrophobia are found. Recorded last year at Ireland’s historic Ballintubbert House, this second album sees them create an impressionist series of snapshots, a sonic representation of the house they were occupying. Primal, raw and unformed - and ultimately not an album for the faint-hearted - its lyrical content alternates between the absurd and the everyday.
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