With large-scale tours and festivals still nowhere in sight, getting pumped about new music this fall means getting pumped about the season's upcoming albums. Fortunately, there are plenty to stoke our excitement, from the highly anticipated debut by K-pop's biggest girl group to a timely return from a veteran club queen. Here are the eight LPs we can't wait to hear.
Sufjan Stevens, "The Ascension" (Sept. 25)
Two years after the exquisitely wispy "Mystery of Love" (from "Call Me By Your Name") carried him to the Oscars, Stevens has returned with a furious and densely arranged electro-folk album about what he views as the "diseased" state of American culture in the age of Trump.
SuperM, "Super One" (Sept. 25)
A K-pop supergroup featuring members of EXO, SHINee, NCT127 and WayV, Super M was built with the express purpose of producing the biggest records and stadium shows possible. They got there almost immediately with the instantly meme-able techno-pop single "Jopping," a Billboard 200-topping EP and sold-out Forum dates, and now they're prepping a full-length debut, preceded by a pair of high-octane singles, "100" and "Tiger Inside."
Various Artists, "The Harry Smith B-Sides" (Oct. 16)
The Atlanta archival imprint Dust-to-Digital describes this set as "the closing of a collector's circle." Drawing on noted experimental filmmaker and music collector Harry Smith's famed 1951 six-album Folkways Records collection, "The Anthology of American Folk Music," producers compiled remastered versions of those folk, blues and country songs' B-sides. It features both the Carter Family's foundational rural twang and Mississippi John Hurt's sweet blues music; and mixes Southern Black jug bands with banjo-playing white coal miners.
Gorillaz, "Song Machine: Season One — Strange Timez" (Oct. 23)
The latest from Damon Albarn's shape-shifting animated troupe is a collection of tunes created as part of his rolling multimedia Song Machine project. But the smart-alecky spirit and spooky-festive sound are classic Gorillaz, as is the delightfully random guest list, which includes Beck, Elton John, Schoolboy Q, the Cure's Robert Smith and the late, great Tony Allen.
Bruce Springsteen, "Letter to You" (Oct. 23)
Springsteen tends to release albums right at moments of national crisis. His 2002 LP "The Rising" helped speak to the grief of 9/11, and "Letter to You" will no doubt be some kind of salve for the most divisive election in a generation. His 20th album, recorded in a five-day blitz with his longtime comrades in the E Street Band, betrays no signs of age. Recorded live at his New Jersey home studio, it's loud and passionate and maybe the last thing you'll be able to talk to your Republican dad about after November.
Kylie Minogue, "Disco" (Nov. 6)
If anyone deserves to capitalize on 2020's dance-pop revival, it's 52-year-old Kylie Minogue, who was pairing airy melodies and ecstatic grooves before Dua Lipa and Doja Cat were born. As if to prove the point, the Australian diva's latest — her follow-up to 2018's country-accented "Golden" — is called simply "Disco."
Chris Stapleton, "Starting Over" (Nov. 13)
Will country music's most impressively bearded traditionalist jump on the Fleetwood Mac bandwagon that's been rolling through Nashville of late? Seems unlikely — though Stapleton's new one does feature a cameo by Mike Campbell, the longtime Tom Petty sideman who stepped in for Lindsey Buckingham on FM's last tour.
CNCO, title TBD (date TBD)
Idiosyncratic Latin acts like Bad Bunny and Anuel AA proved you don't have to compromise to find global success, or gloss up your sound to appease Anglo tastes. But what if you put modern movimiento music in the tried-and-true package of a heartthrob boy band helmed by Simon Cowell? CNCO's 2018 self-titled album was the biggest Latin album debut in the U.S. that year, and while hits like "Reggaeton Lento" proved their mettle there, the R&B-driven "Pretend" showed their range and ambitions for this long-delayed 2020 LP.