LCD Soundsystem celebrated its resurrection this year with American Dream, the dance-punk band’s fourth studio album and its first in seven years. The record’s 11 tracks consider somber themes of aging, death, and loss, but the music soars with spiky guitars, jubilant rhythms, and synthesizer lines that bring either fluidity or fragmentation. “But truth be told, we all have the same end,” James Murphy muses over a squishy, bouncing beat on “tonite.” Maybe your American Dream is a quaint house and a white picket fence, or maybe like Murphy, it’s marriage, a kid, a wine bar, and getting the band back together. Whatever it is, Murphy reminds us that no one ever gets out of here alive, so perhaps it’s best to grapple with our anxieties over mortality on the dance floor, alongside friends, while the music rings out. -- CHRISTINE WERTHMAN
?11. Jay Som, Everybody Works
On Everybody Works, the promise that Bay Area singer-songwriter Jay Som (a.k.a. Melina Duterte) showed on lush BandCamp debut Turn Into and exhilarating one-off single "I Think You're Alright" crystallized into one of the year's most spellbinding rock full-lengths, whose hushed fuzzscapes belie one of the genre's most assured pens and strongest new voices. Don't forget about Duterte's guitar work, though -- whether buzzsawing their way through "1 Billion Dogs" or swaying queasily underneath "(Bedhead)," it makes her productions just as consistently indelible as her compositions. -- A.U.
10. Harry Styles, Harry Styles
No longer a boy and without a band of bros by his side, Harry Styles emerged as a solo rock star in his own right. Led by grand introduction “Sign Of The Times” (“They told me that the end is near/We gotta get away from here”) he sings with such vagueness that he could be referring to the end of One Direction or the end of the world as we know it. Some would argue the those are one in the same, but this probably isn't the album for them -- rather, Styles’ self-titled debut made clear he was trading teenage pop hooks for more mature songs both in terms of lyrics and production. On the LP, he addresses everything from past loves (“Two Ghosts” and “Ever Since New York”) to the woes of being alone on the road (“Woke up alone in this hotel room/Played with myself, where were you?” he admits on closing track “From the Dining Table”) proving that, designer suits and worldwide fame aside, he’s not much different from many other young adult men. The end may have neared, but as it did, Styles strategically created a fresh start -- and in the absence of his band, found himself. -- LYNDSEY HAVENS
9. Japandroids, Near to the Wild Heart of Life
No one would've criticized Japandroids for not laying everything on the line after 2012's euphoric Celebration Rock. But after a four-and-a-half-year breather, Brian King and David Prowse swing for the fences yet again, Near to the Wild Heart of Life matched its predecessor in ebullient energy and singalong hooks and even introduced new electronic wrinkles in Japandroids' signature drum 'n guitar repertoire (the seven-minute epic "Arc of Bar"). Alongside the necessary growth, the cult heroes succeeded in delivering a long-awaited LP that was still Japandroids through and through; we look forward to the rock 'n roll mythology of "No Known Drink or Drug" and "North East South West" driving the duo's sets for years to come. -- K.R.