The best albums of 2024… so far!

These are our picks for the best albums of 2024 so far – what's on your list?

From ‘Espresso’ to ‘Not Like Us’, it feels like songs have been cause for most of the liveliest cultural conversation this year, stoking heated discussion about everything from long-gestating feuds to pop lyricism. A few of those lightning rods – ‘Lunch’, ‘Bye Bye’ and a certain rework of ‘Jolene’ – came heralding excellent albums, 20 of which we’ve collected here in our stock-take of the best records of 2024 so far.

There’s been so much to savour in the past six months, from wistful folk to hyperpop odysseys to club bangers you can cry to – and there’s still more to come. Read on for NME’s (alphabetical) list of the best albums of 2024 so far, and let us know what we missed…

Karen Gwee, Managing Editor (Music)

A. G. Cook – ‘Britpop’

In a nutshell: One of hyperpop’s leaders builds his own dazzling Infinity Mirror Room, filling it with playful hooks, luminous synths and unexpectedly affecting moments
What NME said: “For every track you can imagine blacking out to in a bizarre underground club, there’s a more celestial one just around the corner”
Key track: ‘Soulbreaker’


Ariana Grande – ‘Eternal Sunshine’

In a nutshell: Pop’s perennial theatre kid reckons with life, love and divorce on a comeback album that’s as inventive as it is intimate
What NME said: “A sophisticated break-up album worth losing yourself in”
Key track: ‘Don’t Wanna Break Up Again’

Beyoncé – ‘Cowboy Carter’

In a nutshell: Sure, it’s Beyoncé’s ‘country album’ – and a rich and detailed tapestry that eschews genre conventions to celebrate and reclaim the star’s Southern roots
What NME said: “It’s an undeniable thrill to see her swing so big on a project that dares her to be so intimate and vocal-focused, while making way for country’s up-and-comers too”
Key track: ‘Ya Ya’

Bill Ryder-Jones – ‘Iechyd Da’

In a nutshell: Assisted by strings and a children’s choir, the Wirral songwriter crafts a record of unassuming beauty, complete with moments of cinematic transcendence
What NME said: “Its songs echo with references to his past tunes, its acoustic aesthetic is set to ‘wistful’ and the lyrics find him baring all with apparent fearlessness”
Key track: ‘This Can’t Go On’

Billie Eilish – ‘Hit Me Hard and Soft’

In a nutshell: An emotional sucker punch from start to finish that compels you to go back for more
What NME said: “Distinctly unique, a portrait of a singular talent entering young adulthood”
Key track: ‘L’amour de Ma Vie’


Brittany Howard – ‘What Now’

In a nutshell: A psychedelic and soulful mix of genres – and a generous look into the Alabama Shakes leader’s own emotional world
What NME said: “Thrillingly, ‘What Now’ embraces any and all sonic possibilities and challenges with glee”
Key track: ‘What Now’

Charli XCX – ‘Brat’

In a nutshell: A thrilling distillation of the Charli XCX ethos: heart-on-sleeve pop perfection
What NME said: “These heady songs see XCX at her most raw, smuggling the reflections that spill out in the early hours of the morning through the guise of club bangers”
Key track: ‘365’

English Teacher – ‘This Could Be Texas’

In a nutshell: A confident indie rock debut with kaleidoscopic emotional range and a distinct identity
What NME said: “A truly original effort from start to finish, an adventure in sound and words, and a landmark statement”
Key track: ‘Albert Road’

Kali Uchis – ‘Orquídeas’

In a nutshell: As lush and varied as the orchids it’s named after, this record finds the Latin pop visionary refusing to be contained by any one idea, sound or language
What NME said:Kali Uchis blossoms into a fearless pop ambassador at the forefront of breaking down the divide between music in English and Spanish”
Key track: ‘Diosa’

Kim Gordon – ‘The Collective’

In a nutshell: A clangorous, cutting experiment with trap beats and abrasive noise
What NME said:Kim Gordon balances her less than commercial sensibilities with crunchily on-trend production and relatable lyrics about rotten capitalism and fragile masculinity”
Key track: ‘Psychedelic Orgasm’

Kneecap – ‘Fine Art’

In a nutshell: A wild, raucous joyride that only this Belfast rap trio could take you on
What NME said: “This is the poetry on the cubicle wall: sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes aggravating, but it’s got your attention”
Key track: ‘Better Way To Live’ feat. Grian Chatten

Lola Young – ‘This Wasn’t Meant For You Anyway’

In a nutshell: A raw, riveting left-turn from the south London singer once positioned as the ‘next Adele’
What NME said:Lola Young’s first full-length album moves with an auteur-like touch to its production; opulent soul set pieces stand tall next to raw, scratchy indie tunes”
Key track: ‘Fuck’

NewDad – ‘Madra’

In a nutshell: Haunting shoegaze, made all the more ethereal by these Galway up-and-comers’ shining pop hooks
What NME said: “‘Madra’ is the sound of a band who have reckoned with where they come from and used it to map out where they’re going. NewDad will likely see you at the top”
Key track: ‘Nightmares’

Rachel Chinouriri – ‘What A Devastating Turn of Events’

In a nutshell: Suffused with wit and warmth, the Londoner’s debut is a pop-rock gem to hold close
What NME said: “Rather than sounding bleak, you can hear through these songs that Rachel Chinouriri’s healing process is underway. She can galvanise her voice with humour and steel”
Key track: ‘Never Need Me’

RM – ‘Right Place, Wrong Person’

In a nutshell: The BTS star defies expectations on this deliciously frenetic and introspective listen
What NME said: “Its often discordant layers viscerally reflect the album’s emotions of feeling out of place and its eventual message of the beauty in life’s imperfections”
Key track: ‘Domodachi’ feat. Little Simz

Sprints – ‘Letter to Self’

In a nutshell: Dublin rockers leave no stone unturned with their scorching garage punk
What NME said: “For all its heavy-hitting subject matter, the beauty in ‘Letter To Self’ is the optimism it leaves you with”
Key track: ‘Adore Adore Adore’

Tems – ‘Born In The Wild’

In a nutshell: The Nigerian superstar’s long-awaited debut is expansive and breathtaking – proof of a steady hand and clear vision
What NME said: “From Highlife to hip-hop, ‘Born In The Wild’ exemplifies the region’s rich musical diversity via Tems’ fluid approach to genre”
Key track: ‘Me & U’

tripleS – ‘ASSEMBLE24’

In a nutshell: Dreamy, vibrant and striking: the 24-member K-pop act distil girlhood into an album that’s all killer, no filler
What NME said:tripleS race through a spectrum of different sonics, each one moulded perfectly to fit them and made to feel their own”
Key track: ‘White Soul Sneakers’

Tyla – ‘Tyla’

In a nutshell: Expertly crafted and wholly authentic, the 22-year-old South African’s debut proves that ‘Water’ was just the beginning
What NME said: “Through sheer faith and tenacity, Tyla anoints herself as South Africa’s brightest new star”
Key track: ‘Breathe Me’

Waxahatchee – ‘Tigers Blood’

In a nutshell: Katie Crutchfield continues down her alt-country path with painterly sureness
What NME said: “‘Tigers Blood’ is a burning fire, and it’s a warm summer evening at once”
Key track: ‘Right Back To It’ feat. MJ Lenderman


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