As the UK hits 40°, here are our albums of the month – including one called Hellfire

From weirdo experimental rock to the R&B blockbuster everyone's talking about

This July has stunned us all, from crafty collaborations between the UK’s most divisive rock auteurs and the Met Office (releasing an album calling for hellfire into a literal climate emergency) to it finally coming home and scuppering the national identity of miserable cynicism for good. Calm your ensuing existentialism with these seven albums that have best soundtracked our last month, from psychic synths to pining for the pines.

Artist: Black Midi
Title: Hellfire
Label: Rough Trade
What is it? The third full-length album in four years from a generational rock’n’roll band of meandering provocateurs, ripely plucked from the theatrical school of Beefheart and Zappa.
L&Q says: “Bird song, strings, flute, harmonica, and xylophone pool into a warm ray of light and weld together, before you’re thrown back into the hellfire”.

Read Cat Gough’s full review here.

Artist: Caterina Barbieri
Title: Spirit Exit
Label: Light-Years
What is it? The Italian composer’s first foray into strings, guitars and vocals, by way of a modular synth rig she thinks of as her mechanical fortune teller.
L&Q says: “Equal part blissful and mysterious, Barbieri’s arpeggiated synth passages narrate an abstract story that is both melancholic and charged with energy.”

Read Shrey Kathuria’s full review here.

Artist: Wu-Lu
Label: Warp
What is it? A totally unique debut album from Brixton producer and songwriter Miles Romans-Hopcraft packed with genreless mutations of abstract hip-hop, skate punk and dub.
L&Q says: “The whole album squeezes so many wild ideas into its grooves, but master scientist Wu-Lu pulls off every experiment with aplomb.”

Read Cal Cashin’s full review here.

Artist: Beyoncé
Title: Renaissance
Label: Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia
What is it? A dizzying hour of dance excess from pop’s crowning creator, in homage to the safe spaces club music can create for Black women and queer communities.
L&Q says: “It’s a celebration of Black dance music, of disco divas, and of ballroom culture. It’s raunchy, camp, and constantly moving.”

Read Skye Butchard’s full review here.

Artist: Jemima Coulter
Title: Grace After A Party
Label: Hand In Hive
What is it? A debut coming-of-age citing Arthur Russell and Justin Vernon at its earnest and angst-ridden core, that’s still remarkably self-realised.
L&Q says: “If this is the sound of an artist just getting to know themselves, what comes next is bound to be even more accomplished.”

Read Jessica Wrigglesworth’s full review here.

Artist: JayWood
Title: Slingshot
Label: Captured Tracks
What is it? Canadian songwriter and producer Jeremy Haywood-Smith’s bedroom project turned maximalist, dealing with grief by forcing his thoughts homeward to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
L&Q says: “Through 12 songs that seamlessly marry funk grooves with ’90s indie and modern hip hop giants, JayWood’s second album abstracts the 28-year-old’s life experiences into a narrative that traverses the prairies without getting lost.”

Read Hayden Merrick’s full review here.

Artist: Beabadoobee
Title: Beatopia
Label: Dirty Hit
What is it? A concept album 15 years in the dreaming, cycling through ‘00s pop, emo, fuzz rock, bossonova and commercial indie while losing none of the joy.
L&Q says: “It’s commendable that a record this varied feels so coherent, and it’s a credit to the songwriting itself, which is incredibly conscious and devoid of cliché.”

Read Jasleen Dhindsa’s full review here.