What does fall really feel like? For some, it may be the cool, crisp air that comes with the change of season. Others may enjoy the visual stimulation of colorful foliage or the sound of crunching leaves under their feet. Musically, these five albums all resonate this type of energy through their bright chord progressions and softly spoken lyrics.
Bon Iver – i,i
Justin Vernon has hinted at seasonal themes for each of his albums. For Emma, Forever Ago reflected the mellow cushion that comes with winter. Bon Iver, Bon Iver featured several bright tracks in the mood of spring. 22, A Million is beautifully textured for an easygoing summer mood. i,i continues this pattern with echoed, layered vocals that feel like a warm blanket to complement the crisp, fall air, especially in tracks like “Hey, Ma,” “Faith,” “RABi,” and “Marion.”
Kevin Krauter, Toss Up
Kevin Krauter is incredibly overlooked in his ability to create a mood. In particular, the wavy synths overlayed with his effervescent voice on “Top Up” is mellow and refreshing. I’ve listened to this album countless times but still could not tell you the lyrics to most of the songs; they wash together to create a relaxed and soothing auditory experience, much like i,i. “Rollerskate” is an especially addicting track featuring one of the catchiest and most satisfying guitar licks in years.
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
If you’re looking for well-produced, soothing art-rock tracks, this album has everything you could ever want. Radiohead’s gloomy sentiment is not overwhelming on A Moon Shaped Pool. This album sounds like an Alexandre Desplat score mixed with some beautiful guitar licks as well as Thom Yorke’s vocals, which are soothing as ever. Just listen to “Glass Eyes” — the strings complement Yorke’s crooning to create an incredibly satisfying listen.
Aldous Harding, Designer
New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding’s Designer is an excellent example of how beautiful minimalist music can sound. This album is one of the best of the year because of Harding’s ability to convey so much emotion with her voice, lyrics, and guitar. Take “Heaven is Empty,” a relatively “empty” track other than a strummed guitar and Harding’s mesmerizing vocals. It’s gripping the whole way through, conjuring an image in your head of the last leaf falling from a naked tree.
Khruangbin, Con Todo El Mundo
What this project lacks in vocals it makes up for with its absolutely addictive guitar riffs. While the energy on this album isn’t consistent (just compare “Maria Tambien” to “Friday Morning”), it is incredibly fulfilling. The upbeat tempos on some of the more energetic songs, as well as the drum breaks on the slower cuts, mesh together very well and truly showcase the band’s synergy.