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Spooky season is over: here are October’s best albums from the land of the living

Look, Jarvis has come as Serge Gainsbourg

Rejoice: spooky season is over. You can all stop pretending to enjoy fancy dress now.

Back in the land of the living, October was full of incredible new music, ranging from despondent post-folk to dub-inflected UK jazz, and everything else in between. Here are the best albums we heard in the past month.

Artist: Grouper
Title: Shade
Label: Kranky
What is it? The twelfth studio album by Liz Harris as Grouper, mapping out the Pacific Northwest with her distinctive, reverberating mix of slowcore, ambient and folk music.
L&Q says: “Harris has never been a static artist, but this capacity for self-questioning feels healthy and well-timed, and she still writes a despondent vocal hook better than almost anyone.”

Read Luke Cartledge’s full review here.

Artist: Voka Gentle
Title: WRITHING!
Label: Leafy Outlook
What is it? A Flaming Lips-approved weird-pop-come-indie-psych revival with three-part harmonies and a nebulous, oneiric edge.
L&Q says: “Music like this rarely sounds so grounded in feeling. Through the chaos and colour of WRITHING!come moments of real heartache and elation.”

Read Tristan Gatward’s full review here.

Artist: Aya
Title: im hole
Label: Hyperdub
What is it? A rich debut at the cutting edge of electronic and club music exploring the boundaries of queer art, released physically as a hardback poetry book.
L&Q says: “The line between poetry, voice and instrumentation is blurred with simultaneously reckless glee and knowing calculation.”

Read Oskar Jeff’s full review here.

Artist: Theon Cross
Title: Intra-I
Label: New Soil
What is it? A totally unpredictable celebration of Black music through jazz, dub, hip-hop, soca and grime from London’s tuba luminary.
L&Q says: “Despite chronicling a journey of loss and introspection, Intra-I’s tight instrumentation shows no moments of insecurity.”

Read Sophia McDonald’s full review here, or Cat Gough’s interview with Theon here.

Artist: audiobooks
Title: Astro Tough
Label: Heavenly
What is it? The second attempt by producer extraordinaire David Wrench and visual artist Evangeline Ling to send you spiralling into their surrealist freak-pop cosmos.
L&Q says: “If Wrench’s masterful production is the expertly-made canvas, it’s this storytelling which gives the record its colour, and combined they make a brilliant piece of art.”

Read Jessica Wrigglesworth’s full review here, or order a copy of Issue 148 with audiobooks on the cover here.

Artist: Lone
Title: Always Inside Your Head
Label: Greco-Roman
What is it? A Cocteau Twins and my bloody valentine-inspired eighth studio album from Nottingham DJ/producer Matt Cutler.
L&Q says: “Following epic themes of “birth, death, and our existence in-between”, Always Inside Your Head is easily Cutler’s most personal and ambitious effort yet.”

Read Woody Delaney’s full review here.

Artist: Self Esteem
Title: Prioritise Pleasure
Label: Virgin
What is it? A gloriously timed, frank and uplifting middle finger to anyone who’s ever wronged indie-pop veteran Rebecca Taylor.
L&Q says: “Sure, it’s calculated, but it’s also raw and dangerous. Taylor’s shocking lyrical honesty goes beyond what most pop stars can offer.”

Read Skye Butchard’s full review here.

Artist: Hand Habits
Title: Fun House
Label: Saddle Creek
What is it? A heady confliction of self-reflecting, introspective music entirely entrusted to Meg Duffy’s housemates and producers, Sasami Ashworth and King Tuff.
L&Q says: “Confessional and cathartic at the same time, Fun House raises the bar for an already incredibly talented and interesting singer-songwriter.”

Read Guia Cortassa’s full review here.

Artist: Lotic
Title: Water
Label: Houndstooth
What is it? The Texas-born artist J’Kieran Morgan’s surrender to softness and impermanence, via heart-wrenching electronics and reverberating siren songs.
L&Q says: “Across nine breathtaking tracksLotic bursts the banks of her imagination, fetching sounds and tempos that hitherto felt confined to dreamspace, all guided by the surreal swirl of her voice.”

Read Robert Davidson’s full review here.

Artist: Jarvis Cocker
Title: Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top
Label: Concord
What is it? A companion piece to Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch from Pulp’s frontman, covering the likes of Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot.
L&Q says: “His Sheffield twang still shines through and gives each of these covers an uncertainty that’s quite compelling; someone playing a part in a place that isn’t quite yet home.”

Read Chris Taylor’s full review here.

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